The Gradual Refining Process of the C4 Corvette Is Underway
Dateline: 10.9.14 – Twenty-eight years ago today Chevrolet released the new 1987 Corvette to the buying public. A look back at the 1987 Corvette fills me with irony. Performance was back to ‘60s levels, fuel-injection was standard (yes, a Fuelie!), the car had a top speed of 150-MPH making it the fastest car in America in 1987, the Kim Baker’s Corvette was kicking butt in the SCCA Showroom Stock racing series, and it was one of Car and Driver’s Top Ten Cars of 1987. That’s not too shabby! Especially considering the Corvette’s dark disco days of the late ‘70s.
Yet today, 1987 Corvettes are some of the most unwanted used Corvettes on the market. Check out Keith Cornett’s VetteFinders.com and you’ll see many mid-‘80s Corvettes going for less than $10,000. Why is this? Simple – because since that time Corvettes have gotten so progressively better! It doesn’t mean that there’s anything “wrong” or “bad” with the ‘80s Corvettes (unless you can’t stand the square dash design) , it’s just that Chevrolet did such a fine job of honing and refining the car, the new Vettes are just more desirable.
I covered the 1987 Corvette in my Illustrated Corvette Series No. 71 monthly column in the May 2003 issue of VETTE Magazine. Here’s the story copy, the article layout is below.
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 71 – 1987 Corvette “Return to Greatness”
After having been kicked around for over 15 years as an overweight has-been, the ’87 Corvette reestablished itself as America’s performance car. You have to go back to the ’70-1/2 LT-1 and LS6 454 big-block to see performance figures like those of the ’87 Corvette. Although there was only a 5hp increase in power, testers reported that it felt more like 25hp. With 0-60 mph times of 6.3-seconds and a top speed of 152-mph, critics, the competition, and racers were beginning to notice.
The fuel-injected 350 engine only received two improvements, the old-style hydraulic lifters were replaced with racer-like roller valve lifters, and the spark plugs were relocated to the center of the combustion chambers. The overall performance of the ’87 Corvette was vastly improved with the new Z52 “sport package.” For $470, the ’87 Corvette was treated to most of the parts used on the Z51 package, but with the softer, stock suspension. Z52 extras included a radiator boost fan, Bilstein shocks, an engine oil-cooler, a heavy-duty radiator, 16 x 9.5-inch wheels, faster 13:1 steering, and a larger front stabilizer bar. The Z52 option was available with the coupe and convertible, manual or automatic transmission.
And in keeping with the Duntov tradition, the Z51 option included all of the before mentioned, plus the stiffer suspension, as well as the extra structural stiffening from the convertible. The $795 Z51 option formed the basis of the SCCA Showroom Stock competition Corvettes that went undefeated for four years straight!
Visual changes on the ’87 Corvette are hard to spot. On the wheels there was a paint change to argent gray on the center-section and radial slots. Interior changes included relocating the “overdrive engage” light to the tachometer display area, a lighted vanity mirror, heated side-view mirrors, rear window defogger, six-way power seats, and standard electronic air-conditioning. Two anti-theft devices were now used major parts received I.D. tags and if not properly started, the fuel pump was disengaged. Base price of a coupe was $27,999.
Successful racing is what has always made the Corvette a performance icon. The SCCA Showroom Stock Corvettes were so fast that Porsche bought two ’87 Corvettes to dissect to try to learn why their 944 racers couldn’t keep up with them. Revenge can be sweet! – Scott
The below two illustrations are available as art prints, signed and numbered by the artist, HERE.
The above two illustrations are available as art prints, signed and numbered by the artist, HERE.