Was the 1984 Corvette Really That Awesome?

Dateline: 7.24.12

An alternate look at the lowly 1984 C4 Corvette.

Be sure to CAST YOUR VOTE for your Favorate C4 Corvette, HERE.

The Illustrated Corvette Series continues on with its look back at the “first” of each generation Corvette. The latest issue of VETTE (November 2012) covers the first C4 1984 Corvette. It’s hard to believe that it was 29 years ago this summer that Dave McLellan and his team stunned the automotive press at the ‘84 press preview with the all-new ‘84 Corvette. I can sum it up with one expression, “Heads spun!”

Now, if are new to the Corvette hobby, you most likely know that as of today, an ‘84 Corvette is arguably the lowest valued Corvette on the market. But when you look back and read the reports and road tests, one can’t help but ask, “How could that be?!?” The quick answer is that the reason this happened was because the C4 Corvette improved so much, so fast. While the platform of a ‘96 Corvette (the last year for the C4) is the same, it might as well be a different car.

In the C4’s 13 model year run, here’s a short list of the big items that changed:

* Front and rear bumper covers, wheels and tires, front fender vents.

* A completely new interior in ’90.

* Three major engine upgrades – the ‘85 to ‘92 L98, the ‘92 to ‘96 LT1, the ‘96 LT4, and the astonishing ‘90 to ‘95 LT.

* Four special editions – the ‘88 35th Anniversary, ‘93 40th Anniversary, the ‘96 Collector Edition, and the beautiful ‘96 Grand Sport.

* Two Indy 500 Pace Cars – ‘86 Pace Car and the ‘95 Pace Car.

* And lastly, what was in its day, the ultimate Corvette, the ‘90 to ‘95 ZR1. WOW!

The C4 design a quantum leap over the C3 Shark cars with their frame and suspension dating back to around 1961. Corvette chief engineers Dave Mclellan and later Dave Hill just kept out doing themselves, such that by the end of the line for the C4, it was nearly a totally different car from the ‘84 model. In retrospect, there never was a Corvette that experienced more improvements than the C4.

So why are they so low in value? Competition from themselves. If you are looking to get into the Corvette hobby, the ‘84 to ‘89 cars are dirt cheap and there are LOTS of them. And because they are so far down in the pecking order of Corvette, you can get one for no much, cut it up and personalize it to your heart’s content and no one will ever chastise you. Can you get a better deal than that? I think not!

Below is the story copy and art from the article. And since I’m in the process of expanding my Corvettes Postage Stamps Series, I thought this would be the right time to launch my “Year-By-Year” Corvette art stamps series. Enjoy! – Scott

PS- Be sure to CAST YOUR VOTE for your Favorate C4 Corvette, HERE.

http://www.corvettereport.com/vette-polls-what-is-your-favorite-c4-corvette/

1984 Corvette – “The First C4 Corvette”

I’m certain that Corvette designers had no idea that the C3 would last 15 model years and set the all-time Corvette sales record of 53,807 Corvettes in ‘79. GM was happy and said, “Why do we need a new one?” This is what Dave McLellan faced when taking over as Corvette chief engineer. Fortunately, long range thinkers won out over short term bean counters.

After the mid-engine design was put to rest, downsizing mania took hold and the new Corvette was no exception. As a test, 4-Rotor experimental Corvette was made a little smaller and fitted with a 2.8-liter V6 with predictable weak performance, and was dropped as a concept. Once McLellan had all the above behind him, new basic parameters were established. The C4 would be smaller, lighter, stiffer, more aerodynamic, more fuel efficient, handle better, and have front engine V8 power. Although McLellan inherited the Corvette program from Duntov in a time of automotive chaos, he did have most of Zora’s best engineers from the glory days.

After the engine position and height was set in the shorter 96.2-inch wheelbase, the windshield base was positioned at the top of the distributor. Improved forward and aft visibility was another design mandate, so no big fender humps and rear windows with limited visibility. Although Irv Rybicki replace Bill Mitchell as GM’s chief of design, four-rotor Corvette designer, Jerry Palmer was the lead styling designer. Palmer decided the shape must be based on a clean aerodynamic design, as the C2 and C3 cars aren’t as aerodynamically clean as they look. The Palmer Corvette would be lower, with a smaller front profile, a seriously raked backed 64.5-degree windshield, and a Kamm-back rear end design. Working with 1/4-scale models, Palmer was able to reduce the drag from 0.44 of the ‘82 model, to just 0.341. With the basic shape determined, surface details, styling, and interior features were then worked out.

The fiberglass body of the C1 weighed approximately 350 pounds. The body of the C2 cars weighed in around 300 pounds and the car had about 50-pounds of aluminum parts. The body of the new C4 weighed around 250-pounds, had around 350-pounds of cast and forged aluminum, and 20-pounds of high-strength glass and epoxy components. A fiberglass composite rear leaf spring weighing just 7-pounds, replaced the 48-pound multi-leaf spring on the ‘81 Corvette, so the new component was used in the C4’s front and rear suspension. New aluminum parts included front A-arms, single-piston brake calipers, rear differential and carrier, axle half-shafts, drive shaft (for automatic cars) radiator, water pump, intake manifold, rims, and other miscellaneous parts. The basic structure was to get a C3-type t-top roof and a t-bar to tie the A and B-pillars and help reduce chassis flex. This design came to a screaching halt when Chevrolet general manager Lloyd Reuss vetoed the t-bar in favor of the more aesthetically pleasing open targa roof. To compensate for chassis stiffness calculations, the side sills and transmission tunnel were beefed up, but the final design wasn’t as rigid as the original with the t-bar design.

The revised throttle-body fuel-injection system was tweaked up 5-horsepower to 205-HP, so McLellan and his team were counting on lower weight, improved aerodynamics, better suspension, better brakes, and much bigger Z-rated tires to produce a vastly superior car. When presented to the press, grizzled Corvette critics were wowed! For two days in California, the press drove preproduction Corvettes on real roads and were stunned with improvement over the C3. Motor Trend said, “Corvette, A Star Is Born,” and Car and Driver gushed, “Corvette! Wherein, American takes on all comers!” The only stumble was that the Z51 suspension option was harsh on anything other than a smooth track, and was dialed back for ‘85.

Was the C4 as “finished” as the first C5 and C6? No, but it was a vastly superior to the C3 and a great beginning. Despite the price jump of $3,510 to $21,800, the longer production run saw sales jump 281-percent to the second best ever sales year for the Corvette at 51,870 units – vastly better sales than the first years of the C5 and C6 cars. Looking back, I’d call the ‘84 C4 Corvette a big success, but it’s ironic that today, ‘84 Corvettes  are dirt cheap. Unlike the ‘63 Sting Ray, being the “first” of the C4 generation gave the ‘84 Corvette nothing because the car quickly got so much better. – THE END


The above 11×17 Yeart-By-Year Corvette Postage Stamp Print is available for just $29.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time.

If you would like a larger version or a print framed, we invite you to visit our Fine Art America website, HERE. Or, just click the above image. Have fun playing with the frame and mate options.


The above 11×17 Parchment Paper Print is available for just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time


The above 11×17 Parchment Paper Print is available for just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, or by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time


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