1986 re-introduced something that had been missing from the Chevrolet Corvette franchise since 1975— a true convertible. Considering the B-pillar and connecting material were integral to the Corvette Coupe’s structure, the frame was considerably reworked and it actually resulted in the ‘Vette emitting less creaks over bumps. A C4 Convertible was the official pace car at the Indy 500 that year, and all 7,315 Corvette Convertibles in 1986 were shipped with the “Official Pace Car” decal in the trunk so the owner could decide to add it or not.
For the L98 engine, new aluminum heads replaced the cast iron ones, resulting in a bump of about 5 hp. Early 1986 Corvette heads proved too thin, though, and there are cracking issues under high load. These heads were later upgraded to thicker ones later in the production run, and you can tell these heads by their larger intake ports and centrally located, copper-core spark plugs. Triple catalytic converters were also added for 1986 to keep up with EPA regulations and the gas tank on automatic models was reduced by two gallons.
For 1986, Bosch ABS standard became on all Corvettes and a high-mount center brake light was added per government regulation. It is located where the rear window rises to meet the roof, and visually distinguishes ’86-and-newer models from the older C4’s.
Another addition was the Pass Key I passive anti-theft system. Each key contained a unique pellet, which was detected by the car to allow entry into the vehicle, but only 15 different pellet types existed. With a 1-in-15 chance of a stolen key working, thieves quickly took advantage, and the Pass Key quickly lost its advantage.
Enthusiastic collectors of the C4 might be particularly interested in the “Malcom Koner Special Edition” coupes. They honored a New Jersey dealer and featured a unique two-tone paint scheme. Only 50 were built, and who knows how many are in original spec. GM produced 35,109 Corvettes for the 1986 model year, and they carried a base price of around $26,000.