Introducing the C4 Corvette (1984-1996)

The C4 is a Good Starter Corvette

1988 Corvette Coupe
The 1984-1988 C4 coupe has the distinction of being the least expensive Corvette in the world these days. But these cars came with 230 to 250 horsepower and can be fun to autocross or just drive for enjoyment. Photo courtesy of General Motors

Produced from 1984-1996, the C4 is one of the most popular corvettes. Chevrolet made many C4s over the years and these models are instantly recognizable on the road.

How did the C4 Corvette change over the decade plus that it was in production? Has it retained its value in the collector's market? Let's look at the details of this iconic corvette.

Introducing the C4 Corvette

Chevrolet designed an all-new Corvette in the early 1980s, but the prototypes produced for the 1983 model year had serious quality issues.

That delayed the fourth generation of Corvettes until the 1984 model year.

About 40 prototype C4 Corvettes were produced for 1983, and those were not sold to the public.

Despite the setback, 1984 was the second-largest production run in Corvette history, with over 51,000 cars produced. Overall, C4 Corvettes make up the second-largest cohort after the C3, with about 350,000 cars built in the 12-year period.

Worthy of note, the convertible Corvette returned in 1986 after an 11-year absence.

Engine Power Increased

The standard engine power in the C4 Corvettes ranges from 205 horsepower in 1984 up to 230 horsepower in 1985. By 1992, variations hit up to 250 horsepower.

From 1993 to 1996, base Corvettes received the 300 horsepower LT1 engine. Certain special editions such as the Callaway twin-turbo models generated up to 405 horsepower. These are naturally more expensive and hard to find.

Collectible Value

The 1984-1988 Corvettes are by far the lowest-priced 'Vettes on the market.

Base model C4 Corvettes are not generally considered collectible and it's doubtful they ever will be.

Essentially, a C4 from the '80s makes a good starting point for an enthusiast's ride, but it is a poor investment.

Quick Facts About C4 Corvettes

Significant and minor changes were made to the C4 during its production run  and a few special editions were produced.

Let's look at the features of each model year.

1984 C4 Corvette

The C4 body and frame debuted in 1984 after '83's quality issues delayed the Corvette's release. It also saw the second-largest number of Corvettes produced in any year. 

  • Total Production: 51,547
  • Base price: $21,800
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 205

1985 C4 Corvette

The suspension was softened 25% from 1984 and 1985 was the first year that Bosch fuel injection was used.

  • Total Production: 39,729
  • Base price: $24,403
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 230

1986 C4 Corvette

In 1986, we saw the return of the convertible which were all made as Indy pace car replicas.

  • Total Production: 35,109
  • Coupes: 27,794
  • Convertibles: 7315
  • Base price: $27,027 coupe/$32,032 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 235

1987 C4 Corvette

This is the first year for the coachbuilt Callaway 345 horsepower twin-turbo option sold at a $51,000 premium over sticker price.

  • Total Production: 30,632
  • Coupes: 20,007
  • Convertibles: 10,625
  • Base price: $27,999 coupe/$33,172 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 240

1988 C4 Corvette

To celebrate Chevrolet's 35th anniversary, a special anniversary edition of the C4 was produced in 1988.

  • Total Production: 22,789
  • Coupes: 15,382
  • Convertibles: 7407
  • Base price: $29,489 coupe/$34,820 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 240/245

1989 C4 Corvette

The 6-speed manual transmission made its debut in the 1989 C4.

  • Total Production: 26,412
  • Coupes: 16,663
  • Convertibles: 9749
  • Base price: $31,545 coupe/$36,785 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 240/245

1990 C4 Corvette

Return of the ZR1 package in the 375 horsepower "King of the Hill" model at $27,016 premium over base price. Chevrolet also made ABS and driver's side airbag standard equipment in the 1990 model.

  • Total Production: 23,646
  • Coupes: 16,016
  • Convertibles: 7630
  • Base price: $31,979 coupe/$37,264 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 245/375

1991 C4 Corvette

Only minor changes were made between 1990 and 1991.

  • Total Production: 20,639
  • Coupes: 14,967
  • Convertibles: 5672
  • Base price: $32,455 coupe/$38,770 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 245/375

1992 C4 Corvette

The one millionth Corvette was made in 1992 and the base horsepower rose to 300.

  • Total Production: 20,479
  • Coupes: 14,604
  • Convertibles: 5875
  • Base price: $33,635 coupe/$40,145 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 300/375

1993 C4 Corvette

Another anniversary for Chevy and the 40th anniversary edition of the C4 is released. Also, the ZR1 horsepower rises by 30 to an impressive 405.

  • Total Production: 22,058
  • Coupes: 16,346
  • Convertibles: 5712
  • Base price: $34,595 coupe/$41,195 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 300/405

1994 C4 Corvette

Only minor changes were made with the 1994 C4.

  • Total Production: 23,330
  • Coupes: 17,984
  • Convertibles: 5346
  • Base price: $36,185 coupe/$42,960 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engine: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 300/405

1995 C4 Corvette

This was the last year for the LC4 ZR1 option.

  • Total Production: 20,742
  • Coupes: 15,771
  • Convertibles: 4971
  • Base price: $36,785 coupe/$43,665 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engines: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 300/405

1996 C4 Corvette

The last year of the C4 is as significant as the first. In 1996, the Grand Sport designation returned for the first time since 1963 and the new LT4 engine makes 330 horsepower. A collector's edition was also made available as Chevrolet marked the final year of the C4 body and frame

  • Total Production: 21,536
  • Coupes: 17,167
  • Convertibles: 4369
  • Base price: $37,225 coupe/$45,060 convertible
  • Built in: Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Engines: V8 350 c.i. or V8 DOHC 350 c.i.
  • Horsepower: 300/330