Within the National Corvette Museum's Skydome sits the only remaining 1983 Corvette; a car best characterized as a survivor, in every sense of the word. According to the Macmillan Dictionary, a survivor is, "someone or something that still exists after every other member of a group has died or been destroyed." This as it may, the 1983 Corvette lives up to this title.
In 1983, Bertone began to explore the possibility of approaching the US market with the Ramarro, an exercise in applied technology around mass-produced mechanics. The Ramarro, which means "green lizard" in Italian, was created on the chassis of the well-known Chevrolet Corvette, and the underlying concept aimed to modify the layout of the mechanical components.
The 1984 PPG Indy Pace Car Corvette was special from the very beginning- in several ways. Initially, it was created as a one-off concept car that would be designated as one of the official Pace Cars for the PPG Indy Car World Series of races. It was custom-built by PPG in cooperation with the Chevrolet Division of General Motors. The 205 HP 350 was replaced by a 450hp, 401 cubic-inch V-8.
The first of these cars was the 1985 Corvette Indy Concept vehicle. It was developed as a “pushmobile,” meaning that it was a non-functioning, full-size clay mockup that was developed to test market interest in the concept. The car featured the same mid-engine configuration that Zora Arkus-Duntov had always envisioned for the Corvette program.
A Corvette in name only, the Corvette GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) was one of the fastest and most exotic race cars ever to wear a red Bowtie. Based on an English Lola T600 chassis and powered by an all-American turbocharged Chevy V6, the mid-engined racer was a rocketship. At full boost, the Corvette GTP's 3.4-liter (209ci) V6 pumped out more than 1,000 horsepower.
When Dick Guldstrand introduced the GS80 series in 1986, the car was targeted specifically at Pro-Solo and autocross enthusiasts. He knew all about the needs of these groups, as he was a longtime provider of performance upgrades for the C3 and a direct supporter of a small team of racers from the Western Council of Corvette Clubs. Up to this point, Dick had basically been a tuner. With the intro of the GS80 he was venturing into the realm of small-volume manufacturing.
The big news for 1986 was that a Corvette would pace the Indy 500 for the second time. Retired General Chuck Yeager was enjoying celebrity status as a result of the book and movie, “The Right Stuff.” But Chevrolet was still smarting from the heavy criticism over the ‘78 Corvette Pace Car debacle and decided that all 1986 Corvette convertibles were designated as “Pace Car Replica”.
The 1986 Corvette Indy Prototype was developed beyond clay modeling to the point of a fully-functioning, drivable car, though it was clearly understood that this car would never evolve beyond the prototype stage. Like the clay mock-up before it, development of the mid-engine Indy prototype began in 1985, pulling design cues from its predecessor.
This is no ordinary C4 coupe, but a GM Engineering test mule with VIN plate EX4607 proudly displayed in the windscreen, built in 1986 to test all the new-for-1988 features. This actual car must have spent weeks pounding round the General Motors Proving Ground at Milford, Michigan with longer runs on the road, testing all the changes for a year which saw the C4 suspension, steering and brakes vastly improved.
The story of this Chevrolet begins with Fords - specifically, the purpose-built IMSA Mustangs and SCCA Trans Am Mercury Capris that became major forces in those series in 1984-85. In 1985, a Mustang built by Jack Roush and chassis firm Protofab took a young John Jones to the IMSA GTO crown and a Roush Protofab Mercury Capri had done the same in the Trans Am championship.
Offered from 1987 to 1991, the RPO-B2K upgrade was available from any Chevrolet dealer and also Callaway’s first major Corvette tuning program. Together, GM and Callaway made the upgrade package a Regular Production Order (RPO) which was the first time GM had outsourced such an option to a specialist manufacturer. It even had a factory back warranty. As the C4 updated, so did Callway’s program and by 1988, the B2K was pushing 382 bhp and 562 ft. lbs. of torque.
This Sledgehammer reached 254.76 mph at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in Ohio and became the world’s fastest street-legal car for some time. It was built up by Reeves Callaway in Connecticut as an example of what was possible with the new ZR1 and and turbocharging its LT5 engine. The result was a 898 bhp coupe that still retained luxuries such as air conditioning and a radio. It got this power by using a NASCAR-spec block with Mahle pistons and a massive turbo.
While not exactly a "collector's edition" Corvette in its own right, it nonetheless has become a uniquely identifiable and collectible Corvette from the fourth-generation era. 1988 marked the 35th anniversary for Corvette, and so it was decided that Chevrolet should commemorate the milestone by introducing an anniversary-edition model. This anniversary car was the first of its kind in a decade, given that Chevrolet opted not to manufacture a Corvette in 1983.
The 1988 Corvette Challenge Series was created by John Powell of Powell Motorsports. Chevrolet built fifty-six identical Corvettes for the first year of the Corvette Challenge in 1988. Each was equipped exactly the same, with all standard equipment, the 245hp Cross-Fire fuel injection engine, Doug Nash 4+3 transmission, Z51 Handling Suspension package.
In 1989 Callaway introduced a Speedster which was the culmination of their styling, engineering and trimming talents. Their first example was a bright green ZR1, which had a severely chopped windscreen, no side mirrors, eighteen inch wheels and a vibrant blue leather interior stitched purposefully from Germany. Nothing about Callaway’s Speedster was reserved, and this is especially true when investigating the specification. The car had 450 horsepower.
The 1989 Corvette Challenge cars had a unique option code from the factory, it was "R7F". The documentation from GM clearly indicates that the cars were produced for the express purpose of racing in the SCCA Corvette Challenge Series. There is also documentation that identifies by serial number, all Corvettes produced with these option codes. Therefore, it is relatively easy to validate the authenticity of any Challenge car.
There were several successful attempts to build a convertible ZR-1, most of them by private people. The DR-1 was a GM prototype to test the structural integrity of the ZR-1 chassis when it would be topless. The car was built by American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) for Don Runkle, who was the vice-president of Advanced Engineering Staff, which explains the “DR-1” designation. It was a standard convertible transformed to ZR-1 specs.
In the late 80s, Chevy was developing what some dubbed a ‘Super Vette.’ But the 1989 debut of the Dodge Viper sent GM engineers on a new path to develop a ‘Viper-Killer.’ It started with a factory test mule and the experiment was to see how a ZR-1 would perform if given more power and less weight. It was so fast it was called "Snake Skinnner", for it's ability to beat the Viper and Cobra.
How do you beat a slew of Fox-Body 5.0 Mustangs that seemingly dominated the roads in the late '80s? You take a 454 cu.-in. big-block engine and stuff into a C4 Corvette and call it "Big Doggie". An experimental vehicle used to determine how to convert from a small block to a big block. Its 454 big block V8 along with its orange paint make this high horsepower engineering study a one-of-a-kind standout in Corvette history. The car had as much HP as the '90 ZR-1 did and it was named "ZR-2" or "Big Doggie". Old dog, new tricks joke?
On March 1-2 1990 a unique group of people using a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, reset The 24-hour World Speed Record. That achievement proved unequivocally that the car is indeed...King of the Hill. "The 24" had stood for 50 years. Last set at Bonneville in 1940 by AP Jenkins driving the "Mormon Meteor Ill", a purpose-built. single-seat race car with an aircraft engine. The objectives: set the 24 as well as 5000 kilometer and the 5000 mile marks with a ZR-1 while using an L98-powered Corvette to set the six-hour record and other shorter distance marks.
The Nivola may be considered Bertone’s homage to the most fascinating American sports car: the Chevrolet Corvette. The sophisticated mechanical unit of the ZR-1 was interpreted by Bertone in a European key. Bertone designed a special chassis to make a sporty "boat" with a mid engine. This mechanical layout made it possible to exploit all the power of the engine when accelerating and warrant perfect roadholding on bends.
While it was understood that the Corvette Indy Concept would never be fully realized as a production vehicle, it paved the way for the creation of the twin-turbo CERV III. The CERV III (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle No. 3) was introduced in January, 1990 at the International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Like the latter iteration of the Corvette Indy Concept car, the CERV III was fitted with a 5.7 Liter, 32-valve, dual-overhead cam LT5 engine that featured twin turbochargers. It had 650 hp and 655 lb/ft of torque and top speed of 225 mph.
The 1990 Escort World Challenge Series Corvette R9G's were only available for one week. Only race teams were allowed to order this very rare Corvette through dealerships. The 1990 Corvette had its own code like the '88 & 89's did, it was dubbed the "R9G" Corvette. The cars were produced for the express purpose of racing in the SCCA World Challenge Series. In 1990, dealers could order cars destined for the World Challenge race series.
This vehicle pioneered the advantages of “Active Suspension” and had GTP Corvette race car technology. Built at the Bowling Green Plant, this vehicle was developed as a prototype for a limited edition run in the 1990 model year. Chevrolet ordered it to be built with a complex, high-tech active suspension that includes an Eaton hydraulic pump and Moog actuators. This car and the technology inside of it led to the Active Handling system GM released in 1996.
The C4 ZR-1 Corvette, even some 30 years after its initial year of production, carries indisputable performance merit, the likes of which few can deny. In fact, the ZR-1 is often cited as the car which helped fend off threats, both foreign and domestic in origin, to the Corvette's elite performance car status. However, after only 6,939 ZR-1 Corvettes were built, and 6 years of production had passed, the program was terminated, falling victim to decisions regarding pricing.
The offspring of collaboration between Corvette performance guru Reeves Callaway and designer Paul Deutschman, the Super Speedster LM is an astonishing step up on the original Speedster, taking full advantage of the ZR1’s Lotus-engineered, all-aluminum DOHC engine and 6-speed manual transmission. One of only three twin turbocharged and intercooled LT5 engines built by Callaway, it delivers a pavement-shredding 766 HP.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 Spyder prototype, 1991, by ASC. An experimental styling prototype ordered by Don Runkle, Chevrolet’s chief engineer, to see how far the ZR-1 might be pushed in convertible form. The windshield was chopped in half and the seats were mounted directly to the floorpan. The black example in the National Corvette Museum was originally painted Sebring Silver with a Neutrino Yellow interior.
For the fourth generation Corvette, legendary Corvette racer John Greenwood developed the G4R. It was essentially a radical bodykit that usually followed a high level of performance upgrades. Included was a ground effects package that had integrated lights on the front valance. Furthermore the a new engine scoop and rear wing were fitted.
Chevrolet's introduction of the LT1 in 1992 as the base engine in the Corvette phased out the L98 based Callaway Twin Turbo. Previously, Callaway Corvettes made their increased power through positive manifold pressure; now they made it through increased displacement and finesse. Initially called the CL1 or CR1, they designated the chassis they were built upon. They were based on the pushrod LT1 cars (CL1) or the 32 valve DOHC LT5 ZR-1 cars (CR1).
CERV IV was nothing more than a C4 with the all new powertrain and interior in it. Read the commentary of a car magazine reporter: "We suspect that the first, very early prototypes of the all-new, Gen III ran on the dynos at GM Powertrain sometime in the early spring of 1993. In-vehicle testing began at the GM Milford Proving Ground in the first week in May of 1993 with the "Chevrolet Engineering and Research Vehicle IV-A".