1984 Chevrolet Corvette
8-cyl. 350cid/205hp CPI
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The fourth generation (C4) Chevrolet Corvette was introduced for the 1984 production year, replacing the long-in-the-tooth C3 that had bowed out in 1982. There was no 1983 model year for the Corvette. The new 1984 car was instantly recognized as a thoroughly more advanced design, both in terms of the aerodynamic shape and the chassis underneath.
Styling was a futuristic evolution of the traditional Corvette look that dated to 1963 with Corvette hallmarks like flip-up headlights and quad taillights, but the shape was more slippery with a better drag coefficient.
Under the clamshell-style hood and carried over from the old C3 Corvette was the Chevy L83 V-8 displacing 350 cid and making just 205 horsepower. It would be replaced a year later. Power was managed by an odd transmission - the Doug Nash “4+3” which consisted of a four-speed manual, with overdrives on the top three gears. An automatic was also available.
The C4 Corvette wasn’t body-on-frame, nor was it quite a unibody. The C4 had what GM called a “Uniframe” construction. It featured a traditional rail frame, with the windshield frame and B-pillar frame integrated to the frame. The targa top, when installed, connected the windshield and B-frame, thus becoming part of the structure. As a result it did not simply latch in but had to screw in. The C4 also had large side sills which resulted in a big climb in and out. Coil springs were also replaced with a plastic transverse mono leaf-spring, significantly reducing the weight of the suspension components while providing body rigidity.
The interior of the C4 was pure 1980s. Straight lines and right angles dominated the cabin aesthetic, and the digital instrument panel looked like something out of an arcade game.
51,547 examples of the Corvette were sold in 1984, marking the single best sales year for the C4 production run, which ran until 1996. A 1983 issue of Car and Driverexclaimed, “It is hands-down the fastest American automobile.” Testing resulted in a top speed of 140 mph a 0-60 time under seven seconds, and a 15.2-second quarter-mile time. Almost 35 years later, your results may vary. If going to test drive a C4, just remember that the emergency brake is located between the driver’s seat and the doorsill.
Another thing to note about the C4 Corvettes is that they were gradually and significantly improved over time and the ’84 is arguably the least interesting to drive. From a collectability standpoint, it has the significance of being the first year of the fourth generation Corvette. For people who want a C4 to drive and enjoy, though, later model years may be a better choice.