The Tale of Two C4 Grand Sport Corvettes in a Tiny Florida Town

Against all odds, a 1996 Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible live two blocks from one another in rural Florida!

Dateline: 1-23-22, this story was originally published in Vette Vues Magazine – When we moved to the tiny town of Lake Placid, Florida in 2014, I wasn’t expecting such a robust car culture. It’s not huge, but it is considerable. Once a year in July, Lake Placid hosts their annual Caladium Festival, with a Car & Bike Show at the DeVane Park that is well attended.

Lake Placid is located 15 miles south of Sebring in Highlands County, in south-central Florida. The town was chartered by Melvil Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, and is the sister city of Lake Placid, New York. The town is best known for several things: it is the “Town of Murals” (there are 46 murals painted on downtown businesses), the “Toby The Clown Foundation” Clown College, the “Caladium Capital of the World,” 27 freshwater lakes, and in 2012 Reader’s Digest Magazine voted Lake Placid as “The Most Interesting Town in America.”

With only 2.84 square miles and a population of around 2,000, the best way to describe the town is; think “Mayberry” as in “The Andy Griffith Show.” Between Sebring and Lake Placid there are orange groves, farms, and cow pastures. To the south, east, and west of the town, there are more farms, pine trees, cows, and let’s not forget the gators and bears!

Lake Placid is also home to two of the rarest special edition Corvettes, a 1996 Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible. And here’s the kicker – they both reside within two blocks of one another! Ron Ellerman is the original owner of the 1996 Grand Sport Corvette Coupe and John Meyerhoff is the owner of the 1996 Grand Sport Convertible.

I met John Meyerhoff in 2015 after a man tipped me off about “… a guy in Lake Placid that has one of EVERY generation Corvette!” Before the C7 came out, Meyerhoff had one of each generation. John sold his C1 to make room for his future C7, but it gets even better. John’s lady, Mary Carol Plott also has four Corvettes! Now THAT’S a “Corvette Power Couple”! John and Mary Carol appropriately met at a car show in Lake Placid. How’s that for Fate?

John got the Corvette bug back in the mid-1960s thanks to a fellow Navy officer and bought his first Vette, a 1966 427/425, 4-speed Mosport Green Roadster, around Christmas 1965. After John settled down and started a family, the Corvette was exchanged for a down payment on a house.

By the late 1970s, John got into a 1973 350/250 L82 roadster that fell casualty to a divorce and there were no Corvettes in John’s life for 15 years. John eventually remarried and by 2001, bought a new Magnetic Red convertible. John found the 2001 convertible to be a very comfortable road car and started racking up lots of miles. He was also getting close to retirement time.  

Most of us have a soft spot for our “first Vette,” so John began searching for another 1966 427/425 roadster. Finding another Mosport Green 1966 big-block roadster, but he finally found one that was close enough, a super sano Sunfire yellow 427/425 Roadster. With no power steering or brakes and a very heavy clutch, this is NOT a daily driver, but it makes for a great show car.

After full retirement, John’s wife passed and he decided that “Corvettes” would be his retirement.

“I came up with a new goal. I wanted one Corvette of each generation and I happened to find the 1996 Grand Sport Convertible. It was really dumb luck because although I had owned many Corvettes, I didn’t follow the special editions, so I really didn’t know what I had, I just liked the color scheme and the fact that it’s a convertible. It turns out that it’s one of four other Grand Sports with the exact same combo of options. Then to fill up the collection, I got the 1969 427 Convertible, then got a red-on-red 1960 Corvette. Before the C7 came out, I had one of every generation!”

Except for the Grand Sport Convertible, John’s five Corvettes are mildly modified. He doesn’t race them, but he does enjoy them with an occasional blast. John’s attitude when it comes to his Corvettes is that if a modification will improve the car’s performance or durability and drivability, he doesn’t mind making changes.


Ron Ellerman’s story is quite different. Ron was a boilermaker by trade and eventually owned a very successful, full-service car wash in Ohio. Over the years Ron had numerous interesting cars and motorcycles, but in his heart, he always wanted a Vette. He got his first Corvette bite when his older brother let him borrow his 1966 427 Roadster while Ron was in high school.

“I was always good at working on cars. As long as I could get something apart, I could reassemble it. In 1996 my local Chevrolet dealer had one Grand Sport Coupe on the showroom floor that he was using as an attraction. I kept looking at the car and thinking how much I wanted it, but the dealer wouldn’t sell! He was hoping to be able to keep it for himself, but I kept working on him. Eventually, he called me and we made the deal.”

Ron was having some health issues and recounts;

“I decided that I couldn’t put it off any longer. I let my business buy the car as a “company car,” paid it off, took the depreciation, and eventually sold the car to myself. The car is totally-stock and has run perfectly for the most part for 20 years. I took the car to a Mecum auction to sell, but couldn’t get what I know the car is worth (1996 Grand Sports are currently very undervalued), so I decided to keep it, probably for good. The car now has just over 10,000 miles on it. I recently noticed a small oil leak at the rear main seal – not bad for a 20-year-old car, I suppose. Since getting the Grand Sport I’ve had lots of “fix-up” cars that I worked on and sold. I had VW Bugs, old Cadillacs, a hot rod Nova, street rods, a few boats, and three Harleys. I like working on and fixing cars, and I love driving my Grand Sport Corvette.”

Let’s talk a little about what makes the 1996 Grand Sport Corvettes so unique. The 1996 Grand Sport option listed for $3,250 for the coupe and $2,880 for the convertible. Here’s what was included: dedicated Admiral Blue paint with white center stripes, special details, 17-inch ZR-1-style 5-spoke wheels with painted black spokes shod with P275/40ZR17 tires on the front and P315/35ZR17 rear tires, rear-wheel flares, all-black interior or black/red interior, iconic red fender hash marks, and sequential serial numbers.

The convertible Grand Sports had slightly smaller tires – P255/45ZR17 on the front and P285/40ZR17 on the rear and no rear fender flares. The reason the convertible had slightly less wide tires was that engineering felt that the convertible owners would not be happy with a more grip with a less rigid chassis structure.  

Except for the red accents on the throttle body and the “Grand Sport” lettering, the LT4 looked identical to the LT1. Inside the LT4 it was hot rod heaven and included increased compression (10.8:1 vs 10.4:1) improved aluminum heads, Crane roller rocker arms, a revised camshaft, stronger crank, and revised pistons. All LT4-equipped 1996 Corvettes had 8,000-rpm tachometers. The Grand Sport option was a beautiful way to celebrate the end of the C4 Corvette line.

When it comes to collectability and desirability, low production numbers are key. Chevrolet offered six special edition C4 Corvettes:

1986 Pace Car Replica (all 1986 Convertibles): 7,315 units

1988 35th Special Edition Package: 2,050 units

1993 40th Anniversary: 6,749 units

1995 Pace Car Replica: 527 units

1996 Collector Edition: 5,412 units

1996 Grand Sport: 1,000 units – 810 Coupes, and 190 Convertibles

No one pays ANY attention to the 1986 Pace Car Replicas; the production numbers were too high and it was just a Corvette convertible with stickers. And while the 1995 Pace Car Replica has the lowest production numbers of all of the C4 special editions, the Grand Sports have the patina of one of the coolest Corvette monikers ever, as an honor to the original five 1963 Grand Sport Corvette racers.

Also, while the 1995 Pace Car Replica has just over half the production numbers than that of the Grand Sport, the Grand Sport has the better LT4 engine, performance suspension, fender flares for the coupe version, and ZR1 wheels and tires. Where the 1995 Pace Car replica is a pretty car, the Grand Sport is a tough guy!

John Meyerhoff and Ron Ellerman are perfect examples of people that got the “Corvette Fever” that’s permanent. Duntov always wanted his customer to “enjoy their Corvette.” So with only 1,000, Grand Sports built, what are the odds of these two unique Corvettes residing in the tiny town of Lake Placid, Florida just two blocks from one another? Pretty amazing! Scott

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John & Patti Hutchinson’s 1996 & 2017 Grand Sport Twins

Question: What’s better than a Grand Sport? Answer: TWO Grand Sports

Special Edition Corvettes are a fun part of the Corvette hobby. Production numbers for this group vary widely from as low as 20, 2009 Competition Edition Z06 cars to a staggering 11,632, 2004 Commemorative Edition coupes, convertibles, and Z06 cars. Chevrolet only made 1,000 1996 Grand Sports – 820 coupes and 180 convertibles, which puts the C4 Grand Sport in the rare zone of special edition Vettes. The Grand Sport convertible (only 180 units) is in the VERY rare category.

John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, owner of the Grand Sport Registry, says their current membership consists of 261 C4 (1996) Grand Sports. But he emphasizes that the GSR caters to all GS generations, be it C2, C4, C6, or C7, and that total membership is close to 800 Grand Sport enthusiasts from across the USA and 12 other countries. So, yes, all Grand Sport Corvettes are indeed special. Corvette product planners have a unique way of surprising the Corvette faithful with special editions. But in 1996, no one dreamed that the Grand Sport would become what it is today.

Hutch and Patti Hutchinson are the proud owners of TWO Grand Sport Corvette convertibles, both obtained Continue reading

John & Patti Hutchinson’s 1996 & 2017 Grand Sport Twins”

C7 Grand Sport Corvette, Best Street Vette Ever?

The BIG Return of the Grand Sport

Full-color 11×17 prints are available in our Amazon Store, HERE. Each print is signed by the artist, K. Scott Teeters, and numbered in a series of 500.

Dateline: 1.17.17 – The long-view story of the Grand Sport now has four chapters. The first chapter told the story of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s vision of offering to the public, lightweight, powerful, all-out racing cars that “could” be driven on the street – not unlike what Ferrari was offering – available through Chevrolet dealerships. It was a great idea, but went over like a belch in church with GM’s brass. The plug was pulled immediately and the five pilot Grand Sports were left to go fallow with no factory development or backing.

Part Two of the story happens 33 years later, in 1996. By this time, unless you seriously followed the early days of Corvette racing, you probably never heard of a “Grand Sport.” Continue reading

C7 Grand Sport Corvette, Best Street Vette Ever?”

C4 Grand Sport Coupe & Convertible On Block at Mecum Anaheim – TWO VIDEOS

by Scott Teeters, Editor of Corvette Report
Sellers disappointed when reserves not met.


Dateline 11.23.15: The 1996 Grand Sport was the sixth Special Edition Corvette and did more to bring the moniker “Grand Sport” back into the consciousness of the Corvette community than anything else. Prior to 1996, it was mostly Corvette racing fans that knew what a “Grand Sport Corvette” really was – Zora Arkus-Duntov’s lightweight Cobra killer that he envisioned being offered in every Chevrolet dealership in America. It was a noble concept, but even Chevrolet General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen couldn’t get a special exemption from GM’s management to allow the Chevrolet build and sell Corvette race cars. (I know, it’s a bummer, man!)

As the original 1963 Grand Sport racers faded into the collective memory of motorsports, the legend turned into a myth, until slowly but surely, Continue reading

C4 Grand Sport Coupe & Convertible On Block at Mecum Anaheim – TWO VIDEOS”

2012 Centennial Edition ZR1 Corvette – The “Best” C6?

Dateline: 1.20.12

Is this the C6 to the max? We’ll see!

Special thanks to for the image. The photo was taken at sunrise in home of 'The Beest'. And by the way, its VIN? #100. Click the photo to visit the page.

As I have written many times here, Chevrolet is really on a roll with the special edition Corvettes. I really like these Corvettes and the fact that they’re technically “parts bin” cars, doesn’t bother me in the least. The fact that none of the special edition Corvettes have any horsepower enhancements is irrelevant. It sure would be nice, but after all, Chevrolet isn’t a tuner company. And if 436-hp, or 505-hp, or 638-hp isn’t enough for you, you’re in luck! In the classic small-block Chevy tradition, Chevrolet engineers left plenty of red meat in all three Corvette engines that can be easily extracted without seriously altering the car.

When I wrote my Illustrated Corvette Series No. 177 column for VETTE in October ‘11 covering the 2012 Centennial Edition, there was zero talk about 2013 special editions. And frankly, I wasn’t anticipating the announcement of the 60th Anniversary Special Edition until the Spring. Then in early January, “BAM!” Chevrolet unleashed the 60th Anniversary Edition, plus the delicious 427 Convertible. While I personally like a little more sizzle, the two ‘13 special editions are indeed sweet. But it did complicate the main question of my column, “Is the 2012 Centennial Edition ZR1 the best of the C6 Vettes?” Continue reading “2012 Centennial Edition ZR1 Corvette – The “Best” C6?”

Vette Polls: What Is Your Favorite C4 Corvette?

Dateline: 10.1.11
With 13 Model Years and Eight Unique Special Versions, Vote For Your Favorite! 

Cast your vote at the bottom of this post

When the new 1984 Corvette was shown to the automotive press in the Summer of ‘83, there was a wave of euphoria. “FINALLY!!! A New Corvette!” As there should have been. After all, the Shark had been with us since 1968 and the steel parameter frame and suspension since 1963. The chassis was designed somewhere around 1960! So you could say the car was a little over due for an update.

In retrospect the C4 was an extraordinary generation. It came with 205-horsepower, went out with the 330-horsepower LT4, and maxed out with the 405-horsepower LT5. Here are the highlights:

* Domination of 1985 to 1987 Showroom Stock Series
* 1986 Indy 500 Convertible
* 1987 to 1991 Callaway Twin-Turbo Option
* 1988 35th Anniversary Edition
* 1988 Callaway 254.76-MPH Sledgehammer
* 1990 to 1995 ZR-1
* 1990 Morrison ZR-1 24-Hour Speed Record of 175.885-MPH
* 1992 LT1 as the base engine
* 1993 40th Anniversary Edition
* 1995 Indy 500 Pace Car Replica
* 1996 Collector Edition
* 1996 LT4-Powered Grand Sport

C4 Corvettes are at rock bottom prices these days and there were so many built that if you cut one up and make it into a hot rod, no one will howl at you. That is, unless you cut up a Grand Sport. I’ve read comments from some fellows stating that for them, the appeal of a C4 is that it still has that “rough muscle car” feel to it. As a generation, the C4 had a lot to offer and today, they make excellent entry level Corvettes. I’ve seen early C4s with a little Continue reading “Vette Polls: What Is Your Favorite C4 Corvette?”

Vette Shows: The Sights of C4 Corvettes at the 2011 30th Corvettes at Carlisle Show

Dateline: 9.1.11
2011 Corvettes at Carlisle Week continues with coverage of 1984 to 1996 C5 Corvettes!

This is Michael Beal's custom 1991 ZR-1 Roadster. The LT-5 engine in the car was built by Corvete racing legend Kim Baker.

From 1984 to 1996 the C4 Corvettes arguably made more progress in terms of performance than any other generation Corvette. The ‘84 model arrived with the 205-horsepower “Cross-Fire Injection” engine and was quickly replaced with a real “fuelie,” the 230-horsepower L98 Bosch Tuned Port Injection engine. By ‘90 the 375-horsepower LT-5 engine arrived in the new ZR-1 and was bumped up to 405-horsepower by ‘93. The L98 received incremental improvements and hit 250-horsepower by ‘91 and was replaced with the 300-horsepower LT1 in ‘92. So, we saw some impressive power gains during the rein of the C4s.

And there were several interesting special edition C4s as well. There was the ‘86 Pace Car Special, the ‘88 35th Anniversary Edition, the ‘90 to ‘95 ZR-1 option (the single most expensive optional package in Corvette history!), the ‘93 40th Anniversary Edition, the ‘95 Pace Car, the ‘96 Collector Edition, and the ‘96 Grand Sport. That’s tremendous progress and consistent special editions that kept the C4s fresh and interesting.

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Corvettes so heavily dominated the SCCA Showroom Stock racing series they were kicked out! So, the Corvette Challenge “Corvettes only” race series was created. Morrison Motorsports blasted a 50-year speed record with a mildly-modified ZR-1 and Callaway build their 898-horsepower, 254.76-MPH Sledgehammer. Tuners such as Callaway, Greenwood, and Guldstrand offered Continue reading “Vette Shows: The Sights of C4 Corvettes at the 2011 30th Corvettes at Carlisle Show”

NEW “Special Edition Corvettes” Art Prints Series!!!

Color Laser and Giclee Special Edition Corvettes Prints Series

1978 to 2011 Special Edition Corvettes

Special Edition Corvettes 1978 to 2011

I have a very nice relationship with VETTE Magazine. Since 1976 I’ve been a contributing artist and writer with the magazine shortly after founding editor Marty Schorr started the first Corvette-only newsstand magazine. My monthly column, “The Illustrated Corvette Series” started in Spring of ‘97 and continues on. Next week I’ll be starting No. 165 that will cover the awesome Greenwood G572 C4 Corvette.

The November ‘10 issue of VETTE saw a major makeover for the publication. Corvette Fever is no more, as it has been merged with VETTE. The “new” VETTE is 3/8” taller and wider, has 16 more pages, better paper, and a perfect binding. The new VETTE looks EXCELLENT, my compliments to VETTE’s art department. Included was The Illustrated Corvette Series No. 162 – Part 1 of a two-part, two-page color article that covers the Special Edition Corvettes from 1978 to 2003. Continue reading “NEW “Special Edition Corvettes” Art Prints Series!!!”

Tom Falconer & James Mann C4 Corvette Book Review

Tom Falconer's Collector's Originality Cuide for Corvette C4

“Collector’s Originality Guide: Corvette C4 1984 – 1996” by Tom Falconer & Photography by James Mann

The introduction of the C4 Corvette in the Fall of ‘83 was a much anticipated automotive event. Times were tough through the ‘70s and no one anticipated in ‘68 that the new Mako Shark-inspired car would have a 15-model-year production run. And when you consider that the car was riding on a chassis designed in ‘60-’61 for the C2 Sting Ray, it’s all the more amazing that the late C3 cars set all-time sales records.

Just like all Corvettes from the beginning, the C4 was a car that was in constant evolution. Every year, Corvette Chief Engineer, Dave McLellan and his devoted crew of engineers and stylists made small improvements, with an occasional big leap forward. Little did we know when the C4 was first shown at the end of ‘83 that this Corvette generation would last almost as long as the C3 generation – 13 model years. Continue reading “Tom Falconer & James Mann C4 Corvette Book Review”

Bill Pierceall’s 612,000-Mile 1960 Corvette!


Hot Rod ’60 Corvette does America’s Four Corners

Pretty HOT-looking for a 50-year old babe! I’ll bet that Hemingway never drove anything like this!

Before The Corvette Report was a full-fledged blog, it was a monthly email newsletter. A regular feature of the newsletter was titled “Let’s Play Corvette Odd-Ball! Quirky Vette Factoids” In the October 2008 newsletter I posed the question, “What’s the highest mileage Corvette on record?” With a little help from former VETTE Magazine assistant editor, John Nelson, I reported on a VERY high-mileage Vette, owned by Bill Pierceall.

As of the 2008 report based on the June 2001 story in VETTE, Bill’s updated ‘60 Corvette had just over 500,000 miles on the odometer. In the ‘90s the car had been updated with a completely new ‘96 Grand Sport suspension and LT4 engine. The back end of the car had been widened 3-inches per side to cover the wide GS rear tires, dechromed of the side cove trim and the front fender top trim, and then painted pearl blue. I won’t retell the story, but you can check out the VetteWeb post with this link… <– there’s a typo on this page. The story is from 2001, not 2009.

The 2,900-pound machine is good for a 162-mph ride, limited by the C1’s aerodynamics and what Bill calls “the pucker factor.” (I think most of us can relate to that). Pierceall obviously followed Duntov’s instructions to the letter, to all Corvette owners to “Drive and ENJOY their Corvette!,” and then some! Continue reading “Bill Pierceall’s 612,000-Mile 1960 Corvette!”

2010, 96, 63 Grand Sport Corvettes

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 150 — 1963, 1996, & 2010

Grand Sport Corvette –

“Three Generations of Grand Sport Corvettes”

Illustrated and Written by K. Scott Teeters

Grand Sport Montage by K. Scott Teeters
Grand Sport Montage by K. Scott Teeters


Introduction by Vette magazine  Writer and Artist K. Scott Teeters

For The Illustrated Corvette Series, the timing could not have been better. On April 24, 2009, Chevrolet dropped a bunker buster at the 12th annual C5/C6 Corvette Birthday Bash Continue reading “2010, 96, 63 Grand Sport Corvettes”