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Did Our First Long Distance Drive With Our C4


Well-known member
May 18, 2003
Orange County, CA
1991 Turquoise Metallic Coupe
We've owned our 1991 C4 for several years now but have never really taken her on a long distance drive. Truth is, although we love our 'Vette and drive her on weekends, the thought of taking her on a multi-day trip has never been an option because our young daughter always came along. Well, this passed weekend we got our opportunity. Our little girl isn't so "little" anymore (18 yrs old) and she elected to stay home while the wife and I went driving around the Central Coast of California on our lovely Corvette.

Those of you not familiar with the Central Coast of CA area, it is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco (hence the name). Besides the northern coast, it is one of the least inhabited (ie. less crowded) areas of the California Coastline. Here, land development has been well checked so everyone has equal access to coast, which allows them to enjoy the natural beauty of California's rugged shoreline. Unlike those in SoCal and the Bay Area where the rich as well as commercial properties dominate, virtually shutting off access and/or taken away the spectacular scenery and natural beauty of the coast.

The dominant road in the Central Coast of course, and one of its highlights is Highway 1. Hwy 1 as its name suggests, hugs the shoreline as it goes from sea level to higher elevations along the rugged mountains. Thus, it is one of the most spectacular drives if you have a high performance machine such as the Corvette. Hwy 1 has it all, long straights, sweepers, constant radius turns, and decreasing radius, tight turns. All the while providing incredible scenery.

Okay enough of that. Here are some pictures I took.

Here's a view of one of the more rugged cliffs along the shore. It is off of Hwy 1 of course and it was taken where the road began climbing up the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Notice the road on the upper right hand portion of the picture. (I used links instead of direct pictures to make reading easier and to not cause issues with smaller computer screens.)

Took this pic of the Corvette at a spot called Moonstone Beach. The wife was walking by behind her baby.

Here is Moonstone Beach. They call it that because of its unusual appearance. This portion of the shoreline is very rugged and filled with rocks. The waves crash into the rocks and pounds the black rocks into sand. That sand is then deposited along the shore and is the same color as the rocks. No. This beach is not really typical of what a "beach" is. At least not in this area.

A bit further along Highway 1 from where we stayed overnight is a community called San Simeon. It is where William Randolph Hearst built his castle (Hearst Castle). The town of San Simeon is very small and it exists solely on the tourism generated by Hearst Castle visitors and admirers of the Central Coast. Here is a view of the San Simeon Coastline.

The same view but at away from the Corvette.

So what do we think of our 1991 L98 after this 600 mile trip? Our feelings are slightly mixed but mostly positive. The C4 was really never intended to be a GT car. Performance and handling was its primary focus back in 1984. That inherent characteristic stays with the car well into 1991. Although our Corvette was far from being uncomfortable, it is NOT the most comfortable for long distance driving.

The C4 provides tons of driver feedback about the road surface and what the tires are doing at all times. This makes the C4 such a wonderful car to drive aggressively on the track or on a twisty road. But it also means it does not isolate the driver from the condition of the road. So on smooth, well paved roads, our C4 was quiet and smooth. On broken pavement, it let us know & feel every ripple, tar snake, pothole, & bumps! I set the suspension to Touring on the highway and that certainly helped. Later, I set it to Sport while driving the very smooth, and well paved Highway 1. That was just perfect and there was little body roll to speak of even on the very tight turns.

The C4 Climate Control system is a wonderful thing! During our drive, the temperature ranged from 80's to mid 60's. Sometimes doing 10 degrees swings within 15 minutes of driving along the 101 Freeway as it took us from one micro-climate to another. Having the climate control regulate the cockpit temperature sure made it much, more comfortable and it kept us from opening and closing the windows that brought in unwanted noise/windblast.

Our Corsa L98 Exhaust System really made a difference here. Our Corvette purred like a kitten at cruise, only letting out that angry growl at WOT. This made those long highway stretches easy on the ears. However, tire noise from our Dunlop SP9000's coupled with the C4 chassis meant we still can't really hear the stereo system as well. So we just listened to our voices and the car's V8 instead of music.

Having the power to weight ratio of our Vette proved wonderful when we had to pass slower people along Hwy 1. It made passing even multiple cars very, very easy. Plus, other drivers actually expected us to pass them. I mean, we were on a Corvette so of course we wanted to go faster than they did on their SUV's, minivans, and rented sedans.

At one time, while my wife went shopping in the touristy town of Cambria, I parked our beautiful Corvette on along the side walk on Main street. I guess our color combo and car isn't as common out here as it is in SoCal. We had shop owners come out to admire the car. They all wanted to know if it was a custom paint job and a custom car! I had to explain to them that it was a 1991 and Chevrolet built them just like that!

Believe it or not, most drivers on the 101 Freeway out this way actually use the Slower Traffic Keep Right rule. I'm serious! Most of the drivers would immediately pull to the right when they saw our Turquoise Metallic Corvette filling their mirrors. Of course, there were a few drivers who were inconsiderate morons who simply would not budge from their 65 mph hybernation on the left lane. :eyerole

We brought along our trusty Escort X50 Radar Detector and boy! Did it save our bacon a couple of times. The California Highway Patrol just loves to give out speeding tickets along the 101 Freeway. There were stretches on that freeway that were just perfect at high speed, and the Corvette made high speeds very, very easy. Don't worry! We didn't do reckless speeding. Even then, driving around in a bright metallic colored sportscar made us a very big target.

After about a couple of hours on the road, I needed to stop and stretch. The C4 driving position, while great at holding you in position during aggressive driving, isn't so great for long stretches. Not much wiggle room and it sits on the floor way too low.

Anyway, we loved every minute of our drive. Hope you guys/gals enjoy the pictures. Sorry for the long and winded post. ;shrug
I have heard that that stretch is beautiful, and your pictures reinforce those reports. I am so glad that you got to take the Vette out for a nice weekend. We have taken our 94 out several times and our experiences are pretty much like yours, however I guess I wasn't expecting the ride to totally smooth, so wasn't disappointed with the ride. Tire noise is one of the big reasons I replaced the tires shortly after buying my car (bought it in 2004). The Falken Ziex 512's are much more quiet and we can actually hear the stereo.

It does seem that the Corvette is timeless in it's design and can draw a crowd wherever you take it. Congrats on the journey, I'm sure it won't be the last time.
glad you had anice time...the hardest part to belive is that your climate control works:rotfl
Trips like that are what owning a driving a Corvette are all about. Glad you had a great time and thanks for sharing it with us:upthumbs
glad you had anice time...the hardest part to belive is that your climate control works:rotfl


Yeah! Can you believe it?

I'm a bit anal about our Corvette so I try my best to stay on top of things it needs. Believe me, that is not 100% original vintage 1991 Climate Control. I've had the condenser replaced and the Freon replaced with R134. So far, it rocks and whips up a storm when we need it to, gives us the Mojave Desert when we ask it to.

Glad to see you are all finding some enjoyment in my litttle Corvette blog.
For me I love the solid feel of the C4 suspension. It is compliant enough to make long days with high mileage comfortable. I say this because I was weaned on MG TD's, Austin Healy Sprits, Jaguar XK120 fixed head coupe, Alfa Romeo's, Maserati, Arnold Bristol, and many other performance cars of that era. Oh and a 1960 Corvette that my dad and I put 250K on. I will admit that my 93 is not the soft cushy silent car my Oldsmobile is but then thats why I love it so much.

Aside from the ride comments your write up clearly shows the enjoyment you had with the car and the road and I bet you had a sad feeling when the trip was over and you had to put it back to sleep in the garage. These cars were meant to be the class of the world when they were designed and they certainly were that. From reading some books published on the history of the C4 I have found out that when they first appeared at SCCA races they beat the Porche's and BMW so badly on breaking and performance especially in the rain that those manufactures refused to race against the Corvette causing the SCCA to form a Corvette only class until the other manufactures could improve their brakes and suspension to stay with the Corvette.
Great post.
I lived in Ridgecrest,CA in the Mojave desert for 3 years and while there made that same drive you did (although didn't own a vette then). You are absolutely right - a beautiful drive and a fun drive (with the right vehicle!).
Thanks for sharing.

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