It’s amazing what a difference a few years can make, and the birth of the C4 Corvette is a prime example of just that. The Corvette went through some tough times during the 1970’s, and by the year 1983 it was long-overdue for a complete revitalization, so much so that they didn’t even bother releasing a production Corvette that year. Although the 1984 Corvette finally received a complete transformation from its long-expired C3 counterpart, a body style that lasted 15 model years no less, the C4 was far from perfect but it was a huge step in the right direction.
The most obvious change was a fresh body with contemporary styling, along with a completely redesigned chassis and a wider track, better build quality, better handling, and a more spacious interior with the right combination of luxury and high-tech gadgets. It was the beginning of the digital age, and Corvette didn’t disappoint with an endless supply of power equipment and its “liquid crystal display” gauges, letting the driver know that he or she was the pilot of a very high tech automobile indeed. Another first for Corvette was the introduction of a targa roof, which replaced the previous generation’s t-tops. The targa roof is still being used in today’s Corvettes.
The chinks in the 1984 Corvette’s armor was the anemic 205hp Cross-Fire injected 5.7 that was a carryover from the 1982 model year, and the electronic Doug Nash “4+3” manual transmission was less than bulletproof. As a result, performance was dismal, but acceptable for the era with a 0-60 sprint of 7 seconds, and it covered the 1320 in 15.5 seconds at 88 mph. Improvements were made throughout the C4 Corvette’s life-span, including Tuned-Port fuel injection for the 1985 model year, and the ZF 6-speed manual filled in for the “4+3” after the 1988 model year. We look back on the C4 now as nothing more than a stop-gap between the “Mako-Sharks” and the C5, but realistically, they were much more than that in terms of style, technology, and GM’s determination to make Corvette a world-class sportscar it was supposed to have been in the first place over 30 years prior.
Below is a somewhat lengthy (and we imagine expensive for the time) commercial released by Chevrolet in 1984 for its then new Corvette. What we would consider to be corny and really cheesy today, was considered to be cool and cutting edge in 1984. The commercial features a man dressed up in an outfit that can only be described as a cross between “The Stig” from BBC’s Top Gear and a 1960’s astronaut- with “CHEVROLET” emblazoned on his helmet screen while driving through a Tron-like environment and dodging neon-lit tubes to display the Corvette’s new and improved handling. Enjoy this time warp to an era when a 205hp V8 sat atop GM’s performance engine line-up.