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Old 11-05-2012, 12:37 PM   #1
Reino
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New member--looking to own a C4

Hello all,

First of all there are a million Corvette forums on the web but you guys are the only ones on the Autoguide app so congratulations...you have a new member

I'll be 32 years old next year and the Corvette itch has become too strong to ignore. I've got about $5k-$7k to spend which puts me in the C4 realm. I understand C5 is the better car but I'm hoping to get into the Corvette world with the C4 and work my way up to a C5 later on.

I know the whole 'newest, lowest mileage Corvette you can afford' mantra, but with so many C4s to choose from, its not that simple.

With price being constant, which of these variables are most important?

1.) low mileage L98 vs. high mileage LT1? I love torque--drive a Powerstroke daily--so I think I'd be happy with L98. I once owned an LT1 Camaro, never had a problem with opti-spark. Is this a Y-body specific issue?

2.) low mileage coupe or high mileage convertible? I'd love a convertible but prices are a few thousand more. Also I'm concerned about luggage space--wife and I love long road trips. Also a coupe would be useful to carry the dogs in back for short trips--can't do that in the vert. I also understand you need tools to remove the targa on the C4 (as opposed to quick release on the C5), so the very seems so much easier to drop on a dime.

3.) low mileage auto or high mileage manual? At my price range the manual would be the 4+3. I've heard mixed reviews of this. How is it? I wouldn't mind an auto for cruising (my Camaro was auto), but all my other cars are manual so I'm afraid I'd have buyers remorse with an auto.

I'm looking forward to a long tenure with this community, and stoked to own a Corvette soon!


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Old 11-05-2012, 01:48 PM   #2
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If I was in the market for a project c4 corvette ID select a 1991 TPI or a 1995-96 LT1 , both maximize the potential per dollar spent, but I would be far more concerned with the quality and appearance of the body and interior that the engine or transmission, simply because Id be rebuilding those and if I could Id find a MANUAL TRANSMISSION CAR, with the dana 44 rear differential

and BTW I own a 1985, a 1996 and My son now owns my previous 1992 c4 VETTE, and Ive worked on and rebuilt all three to some extent, the 1985 has had at least 5 different engine combos, several transmissions and at least 4 sets of heads and over a dozen different cams installed,SO I DO KNOW A BIT ABOUT WHATS REQUIRED TO GET THEM RUNNING AND MAINTAINED, THE 1991 WOULD BE THE EASY ONE TO WORK ON.

BTW if you get a great deal on a clean vette theres nothing preventing you in the future from installing a BIG BLOCK or LS series engine at a later date as funds and your skill allow.
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:02 PM   #3
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WELCOME! Sounds like you've already done a lot of homework. I've got an 85 4+3 coupe, so I'll speak to your concerns.

The coupe roof is simple to move and store in the back. I can have mine off in under 2 minutes. So don't worry about that.

The 4+3 is cool, but even properly maintained, its going to fail. There's only 2 quarts of fluid in it. And VERY few places know what to do with them as far as service. So if you gotta have a manual car, and you like the torque of the L98, then you'll have go get an 89, 90 or 91.

Get a factory service manual and a decent set of tools. You can do a LOT of work on your own and its no too difficult, if you try.

Good luck on the search and let us know what you wind up with.
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
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If I was in the market for a project c4 corvette ID select a 1991 TPI or a 1995-96 LT1 , both maximize the potential per dollar spent, but I would be far more concerned with the quality and appearance of the body and interior that the engine or transmission, simply because Id be rebuilding those and if I could Id find a MANUAL TRANSMISSION CAR, with the dana 44 rear differential

and BTW I own a 1985, a 1996 and My son now owns my previous 1992 c4 VETTE, and Ive worked on and rebuilt all three to some extent, the 1985 has had at least 5 different engine combos, several transmissions and at least 4 sets of heads and over a dozen different cams installed,SO I DO KNOW A BIT ABOUT WHATS REQUIRED TO GET THEM RUNNING AND MAINTAINED, THE 1991 WOULD BE THE EASY ONE TO WORK ON.

BTW if you get a great deal on a clean vette theres nothing preventing you in the future from installing a BIG BLOCK or LS series engine at a later date as funds and your skill allow.
Thanks! What makes a 1991 different from 89 and 90, aside from interior and exterior changes?

Also 95-96 are out of my price range. At nearly $15k, they are far too close to C5 territory not to just get the C5.


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Old 11-05-2012, 04:47 PM   #5
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Thanks! What makes a 1991 different from 89 and 90, aside from interior and exterior changes?

...
I get to see and work on a good many C4 vettes, while theres exceptionally well preserved vettes in every year range, every year newer incorporated minor improvements in sensors, computer durability and cpu speed, the 1991 was the last and best TPI variant, and as such it had a few improvements, plus your generally going to find the earlier 1984-1989 or so vettes interiors did not stand the test of time as well as the 90-91
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:06 PM   #6
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Don't pigeon hole yourself into a certain trim or engine model. Go out and drive some and feel them and see what moves you. Once you figure that out you can then look for "the one". I prefer the early body style myself but that is for you to decide You also might want to be careful if you really want a C5 you might want to wait to get one. You could get the C4 love it mod the shit out of it and never look back or go buy a C5.
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:15 PM   #7
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Welcome to Digital Corvettes!! Good Luck in finding the right car for you.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:32 PM   #8
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WELCOME! Sounds like you've already done a lot of homework. I've got an 85 4+3 coupe, so I'll speak to your concerns.

The coupe roof is simple to move and store in the back. I can have mine off in under 2 minutes. So don't worry about that.

The 4+3 is cool, but even properly maintained, its going to fail. There's only 2 quarts of fluid in it. And VERY few places know what to do with them as far as service. So if you gotta have a manual car, and you like the torque of the L98, then you'll have go get an 89, 90 or 91.

Get a factory service manual and a decent set of tools. You can do a LOT of work on your own and its no too difficult, if you try.

Good luck on the search and let us know what you wind up with.
I'm leaning towards a convertible, and in my price range an 89 or newer will be tough to find without high miles.

If I go pre-89, should I opt for an auto instead of the 4+3?


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Old 11-09-2012, 03:09 PM   #9
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The 700r4 auto trans is in my opinion a bit better than the 4+3 manual, while neither is Ideal I see far more 4+3 transmissions that need work or need replacement on older TPI corvettes, mostly because previous owners seldom bothered to maintain the lubricant levels in the manual transmissions
keep in mind that both transmissions have advantages and weak points, and Id vastly prefer a good manual transmission but I see far to many badly maintained 4+3 transmissions and worn clutches in the older vettes
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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The 700r4 auto trans is in my opinion a bit better than the 4+3 manual, while neither is Ideal I see far more 4+3 transmissions that need work or need replacement on older TPI corvettes, mostly because previous owners seldom bothered to maintain the lubricant levels in the manual transmissions
keep in mind that both transmissions have advantages and weak points, and Id vastly prefer a good manual transmission but I see far to many badly maintained 4+3 transmissions and worn clutches in the older vettes
Thanks for the info. A 1990 would be ideal. I too prefer the old body style, new interior, 6-speed and TPI.


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Old 11-11-2012, 03:26 PM   #11
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Having just bought an '88 with the 4+3 manual I thought I'd share my thoughts. I looked for my car for a long time, almost five years, and drove a lot of basket cases. I finally bought the 88 with 60,000 miles which was very well maintained and driven only on weekends. It also had maintenance records going back to '88, and it was well worth the wait and the search, but it still needed work. In other words, don't rush. Don't let that money burn such a hole in your pocket that you jump too soon.

As for the 4+3....it's not so bad. It is a good transmission. I have not experienced any drawbacks to it yet, but that's not to say I won't. I would prefer a five- or a six-speed so I may swap it out someday, but right now I'm having too much fun with it.

As I said, the car needed some work. The heater core needed replacement, the brake master cylinder was leaking, it needed front tires, rear brakes, and a new battery. Even with a low-mile car you're looking at something 20 years old or more so it will need work no matter what. Budget accordingly. I had $10,000 to spend and wound up using all of it for the car and repairs.

But now that it's all sorted out, it's a joy to drive.
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:40 PM   #12
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I think I'd be willing to sacrifice for an automatic in the right car. More importantly of a decision for me is coupe vs. convertible. It looks like C4 verts command about $3,000 premium over coupes. Is it worth it? How 'open' does the coupe feel with the targa removed compared to the convertible.


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Old 11-13-2012, 12:45 PM   #13
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I think it feels pretty open...especially if you get a rear glass hatch "vent" as well. But you still have the rear b-pillar and rear glass.

Best advise would be to go and drive each one...see what you like. Keep in mind that cargo room is minimal with verts...when compared to coupes, so if you plan on doing road trips with it, keep that in mind.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:47 AM   #14
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I have a 92 black rose c4 that I paid $7500 for. It had 108000 miles on it and it needed some work. The black leather interior was excellent and the body and chassis were straight. I am the fourth owner and all of the previous owners kept very detailed records of service and modifications.

With that said the the car had been just sitting for about a year, and it showed. I replaced the intake manifold gaskets, put on 4 new tires, new u-joints and wheel bearings. Also had the front and rear bumpers repainted.

All told I have about $9600 in the car, and looks good, runs excellent and handles great. Sounds good to, (muffler delete). The car now has 114000 on it and it has had no optispark issues.

I drive it a couple times a week, about the same as my 2012 Camaro ZL1, and I swear it is just as much fun for a lot less money.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:43 AM   #15
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Thanks for the info. A 1990 would be ideal. I too prefer the old body style, new interior, 6-speed and TPI.


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If you are leaning toward a 90 model then be very aware of the one year only issues they have. First year for air bags and the sensors and control module are very hard to find and expensive when you do find them. Most have issues here and the simple fix of fixing the ground on the sensors doesent always work. Almost all ( about 90% ) I have seen at dealers and also private party will have the red seat belt light constantly lit on the cluster ( dead givaway to air bag issues ) but they will either remove the SRS light in the DIC or it will burn out so wont be lit. It can be fixed and isnt that hard to do but be aware of it as it will make a good negotiation point for price reduction if you know what you are talking about. Also any interior trim or buttons will be 90-91 only so look at that too. Most everything else can be fixed easily. All goes back to get the best body and paint you can for the price and try for a useable interior. Mechanical parts are the easiest to fix or repair. This is just my opinion as I dont like bodywork or paint for a project so woll have those done by a shop. Good luck with your search and let us know what you end up with. If you have any questions on the 90 specific issues let us know as manny here can help.
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