We talk a lot about future trends here at ACC. Here’s something to use right now: Buy a C4 Corvette.
Why? Because they’re iconic for their era, numerous enough to be inexpensive, and they’re fun to drive. They also don’t have many mechanical issues overall, so that makes them great, livable next-gen collector cars.
The C5 is a better car — no doubt about it — but it hasn’t aged into its prime yet. Plus, as new Corvettes have gotten better and better, the prices on C4s and C5s have dropped — but I don’t think they’re going to go lower on C4s than they are right now. With younger people starting to take notice of these cars and their oh-so-’80s styling, now’s a good time to buy.
Here’s what I’d be looking for in 1984-96 Chevrolet Corvettes right now:
1985 Red-on-red examples
1984s had the not-so-great Cross-Fire injection system. ’85 models got TPI, which worked better, yet still have that first-run C4 Corvette look. Also, if you’re gonna buy a Corvette, it ought to be red. And if you’re going to buy a red car, it might as well be ALL red. Gaudy? Maybe. But a red-on-red Corvette can hold its own next to anything else from the era, at least in terms of a bold statement. The next generation of collector is looking for poster cars, not beige or gold drivers.
Find one with 80k miles, spend $8k-$10k.
1996 Grand Sport
Red on red not bold enough? How about a blue Corvette with a white stripe down the center and red seats? The Grand Sport came with a 330-hp LT4 and a 6-speed manual, and was available with optional red/black leather seating. Only 1,000 were built, but prices aren’t crazy for examples with miles. Median price right now is $28,500 for a coupe, and cars with over 50k miles are cheaper. These aren’t as complex as a ZR-1 but still offer fantastic performance, handling, and image. Also, as ’96s, they’re OBDII, which means your mechanic will be much happier to diagnose and fix one of these versus an earlier C4.
Why ’92? Because that’s the first year of the 300-hp LT1. Pair that with a 6-speed manual and you have a fantastic fun driver’s car that won’t cost you much to buy or to maintain. These cars also came standard with GM’s ASR (Acceleration Slip Regulation) system, which will keep the car pointing where you want it even if you overdo the throttle in the rain. The only color to avoid here is dark green, unless you really like dark green. $7k is the current median price.
Now, with any of these cars, it’s important to verify that all the electronics work as designed before you buy — especially the dash and gauges. Parts aren’t hard to come by, but some issues are easier to solve than others.
Agree with these choices? Let’s discuss below.