Monday, November 30, 2015

Jar Jar: 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4

The original Corvette is a venerated icon in the automotive world; when released in 1953 it captured the heart of America, sort of like a young Luke Skywalker.  A few years later the Corvette got better. The C2 Vette was the ultimate in badassery culminating in the Darth Vader '63 Coupe (yes, that one).  The C3 Vette was not as pretty but had some serious firepower with the ZL1 all-alloy 427 cubic inch V8 fit for a galactic Emperor and Sith Lord...things were looking good for Corvette fans.  And then in 1984 Chevrolet released the Jar Jar Binks of the Corvette progression, a floppy pile of parts that had the structural rigidity of a Gungan's ear flaps and the reliability of a pod racer built by an 8 year old with salvage yard parts.  Find this 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4 offered for $6,950 located in Lakeville, CT via craigslist. Tip from Cory.

The C4 Corvette was first introduced in 1984 as the future of Corvette styling and it passed on the traditional Vette curves for a sleek and aerodynamic look.  The inside introduced a digital LCD dash display that was going to be the future of motoring....of course the next generation Corvette reverted to curvy hips and analog gauges...I guess buyers didn't like the future as much as the product planners at GM.  Sounds familiar -- like the Aztec, EV-1, Vega, Saturn...etc.

Just feast your eyes for a minute on that digital gauge, a paradigm of futurism gone awry.  One thing that gearheads figured out in the revived analog gauge era is that the gauge doesn't always mean what it says, like the re-calibrated tachometer on the E46 M3 (8,000 rpm isn't really 8,000 rpm) and every temperature gauge in a car since about Y2K doesn't show temperature, but shows a pegged in the middle needle if temp is in a certain range (yeah, even the ones with numbers on 'em, the numbers mean jack squat). 

This Vette shipped from the factory with a 230 horsepower L98 small block, but is now pounding pavement into submission with a 408 cubic inch small block with a Lingenfelter cam and a bunch of hop up parts -- expect something in excess of 400 horsepower if it was built well.  Even with the funky 4+3 manual shifter it should go like stink.

See another car with which I can channel my inner old man?


  1. This a a killer built injected SBC for $6,950 with a body thrown in for free.
    What a really nice Corvette. Factory appearance, clean and tidy, with a awesome motor.
    Really great deal if you ask me.

  2. I can usually count on this site to not pull any punches. Your description of this generation Corvette hints at how awful it really is, but I assume you are bowing to the pressure of the powerful C4 loyal owner(s).

    Seriously, thanks for calling these cars for what they are. If anyone wants to inflict punishment on yourself, or someone else you loath, take a ride on a bumpy side road in a Z51 version. The "Masochist Edition."

    Junk, unless you have no bones or a spine, then it is a heckuva deal.

    1. I used to use a C4 with the Z51 package as a daily driver. It worked pretty well, but I never attempted to off road it and the roads here are in pretty good shape compared to, say, Michigan. Reliability wasn't its strong suite, but the Corvette was over 25 years old and had nearly 200,000 miles on the clock.

      I'd have to say that the chassis rigidity was not something that really held me back with that car - and it's a MUCH better chassis than a C3. The car did have quite a few things to complain about - it had some major water leaks, a lot of the controls were in really weird places, the gas would run out before the gauge hit Empty, the engine's torque curve would have been better suited to a dump truck, and the interior looked like it was designed by Fisher Price - but it was a great handling car.

  3. Wow Harsh words

    400 hp and it's red!

    Have a Snickers bar and hit the edit button

    Happy Monday

    1. Yeah, I have to admit that a modified C4 with today's prices would be tempting if I were in the market for a 2-seater. Was I too negative? You know what my Momma always said: "If you can't say anything nice, you might have a future career in journalism"

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    3. I'd say 'get the latest one you can', they were competitively quick for their time by the advent of the LT1/LT4, and by then the interior and material quality were...acceptable.

      Me, I'll save my pennies for a C2 roadster, or a C6 Z06.

      My enormous raging lust for the late turtleback C3 is a little like one's feeling for the chubby girl with the cute smile who you got all hormonal with in eleventh grade; it probably wasn't as good as you remember, but hey, you weren't all that either. Not a bad thing to be comfortable with something that's not perfect.

  4. Well, yeah, the C4s were never my thing, but if ever a 'Vette could be described as a sleeper this is probably it.

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  7. Pretty sure Anakin took the checkered in Episode 1...

    Buddy of mine was a cone killer in his c4; found some local success in autoX in Houston BITD. His handled pretty well.

  8. Lakeville CT is also home to Lime Rock, and the headquarters of Skip Barber. Its fully possible this is/owned by an employee. As a long ago employee of said company... im not really sure if that adds or subtracts value. It might be really well taken care of by someone who really knows cars. Or flogged mercilessly, occationally on track. Or both. Or it just happens to be there. But its a tiny tiny town so any car guy in town probably works at skip


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