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First time buyer looking for Advice...

Wyatt_Earp

New member
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
3
Location
Columbus, OH
Corvette
1991 Red Hatchback Coupe
Hi Everyone, :w

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to own a Corvette. I'm 28 yrs. old now and have the means to do it. (and I got the green light from the wife :D) So, I come to the experts for some advice on what to check for, links to resources, questions to ask the seller, and any other great advice you might bestow on a first time vette owner.

This Corvette will be my second car, so it will stay in the garage in inclement weather. I drive around 15000 miles per year, and I expect the Corvette to take up a litle less than half of it, so I will probably drive it for somewhere around 6-7k miles a year.

I'm thinking about getting a C4, although if the price is right, I wouldn't turn down a C5 or C3. So, after much research, I've found a few cars online, and in my area, that could be candidates. Any advice would be appreciated.

C4s:
1992 Chevrolet Corvette, $11,500 - Cars.com

1992 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, $12,000 - Cars.com - One thing that concerns me about this car is the fact that it is advertised as a ZR-1, yet the VIN number says it has the LT1 engine. Am I missing something?

1996 LT4 Hatchback Coupe:
Cars for Sale: 1996 Chevrolet Corvette in Pataskala, OH 43062: Hatchback Details - 268222733 - AutoTrader.com

1994 LT1 Convertible:
Cars for Sale: 1994 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible in Columbus, OH 43228: Convertible Details - 268399403 - AutoTrader.com

1995 LT1 Hatchback Coupe:
Cars for Sale: 1995 Chevrolet Corvette Hard Top in Akron, OH 44319: Hatchback Details - 266879442 - AutoTrader.com

1996 LT4 (most likely) Coupe:
Cars for Sale: 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe in AKRON , OH 44320: Coupe Details - 264959350 - AutoTrader.com

C3:
1978 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, $10,000 - Cars.com

C5s
1998 LS1 Convertible
Cars for Sale: 1998 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible in Liberty Township, OH 45015: Convertible Details - 252227586 - AutoTrader.com

1999 LS1 Hatchback Coupe
Cars for Sale: 1999 Chevrolet Corvette in Hamilton, OH 45011: Hatchback Details - 266538448 - AutoTrader.com

So, again, thanks to anyone who takes the time to offer any advice.
 

air1jpg

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 4, 2007
Messages
393
Location
Louisville, KY
Corvette
1996 Polo Green LT1 Coupe
The car advertised as a ZR-1 is definately not a ZR-1, though it is a nicey equiped LT1 :). The ZR-1's have a valet switch below the radio, which this car does not. I would go with a '96 C4 as they have all of the refinements of the C4. The LT4 motor is rated 330HP, but I have heard it actually is closer to 390HP! :) If you like the C4 and like manual transmissions, get one of the LT4 cars. I like the look of the C3, but the '78s didn't have a whole lot of horse power compared to the '96 C4.
 
D

dogfish246

Guest
To be honest... there is sooo much that you can look for / know about a C4 Vette... What I would do is decide what you want (C3, C4, C5)?

I would go C4 bc thats the decision I made when I was looking... I test drove the C5 but it was not as nice to me as the C4, but it was more powerful. The C3s are too old to be a daily driver so I went with C4...

Let us know what you are looking for and we can help. With such a broad selection I couldnt tell you where to start...:cool

Also, for some info, check out my site in the link below... Its about my Vette!
 

sstearns2

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Messages
95
Location
Camarillo, CA
Corvette
1990 convertible, red/tan/tan, 6 speed
The LT-4 was only in 1996 and all the manual transmission cars got them the autos have the LT-1. I'd stick with a 95 or a 96 as you will have a lot of fun and it's not much money up front. I'd aviod convertibles unless it's really, really just a nice weather car, storage is very limited in the C4 at least. I'd also avoid the C3 due to age, the gas mileage is horrendous, and the performance isn't great. There are not many stock C3s that will run with a stock late C4 and none that will handle as well. They look cool though. I had a 77 for years, then an 89 Z-51 and now a 90 convertible. I'll get a C4 ZR-1 someday.

It's really a buyers market out there right now. Shop good.

Scott
 

Wyatt_Earp

New member
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
3
Location
Columbus, OH
Corvette
1991 Red Hatchback Coupe
@air1jpg, sstearns2
That is kind of what I had gathered, with the C3s not having much horsepower and the later model C4s having more advancements over the previous years. This is the way I've been leaning, although some test drives might change my mind. Thanks for taking the time to reply

@dogfish246
That's a nice car you have there and it looks like you take very good care of it. :) As for my selection, I guess if I had to sum it up, what I am leaning towards is a '92 or later C4 with low-ish miles (70k or less) and in good condition for under $15k. And the farther away from $15k the easier it will be when telling the wife how much I spent. ;) Body style I am not too concerned about. I would be happy with any of them. I used to drive a '92 Mustang ragtop, so I know what I'm getting into with a convertible. I would probably prefer an automatic, but I could get used to a manual just fine.

I suppose the questions that I'm asking are, are there any specific issues I should look for when looking at a late model C4? Things that should be checked out beyond the normal used car items? And/Or, do you guys know of any books/websites that would have information like this, besides this awsome forum, of course? :CAC
 

GS Diva

Moderator,
Joined
Nov 1, 2000
Messages
2,316
Location
Conway, SC
Corvette
2016 Daytona Sunrise Orange Metallic Z06
I've had C3's, C4's, one C5 and one C6. I would definitely rule out the C3 as a daily driver (and that's pretty much what you are planning with a projected 6-7k miles per year). My opinion? I'd go with a C5. The technology and comfort level (if that's important to you) far surpass the C4. If you are focusing on C4's, definitely go with a '95 or '96 and try to go with one with lower miles. All the bugs and glitches were worked out by then!!

My advice to anyone is to buy the newest with the lowest miles that you can afford!

Let us know how you make out.

Elaine
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
3,668
Location
Mustang, OK
Corvette
'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
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dogfish246

Guest
OK, well now we can give you info... I would get a 95 or 96 because they are the most refined C4s you can buy. Im going to give you a little list of things I can think about when looking for a Vette:

  • The 96 had the LT1 for the auto, and the LT4 for the manual. Either is a great engine (you can look up each engine).
  • Try and find a Z51 car, this is a handeling package that is a big difference on Vetts.
  • Look for the options sticker inside the storage box behind the passenger seat.. It should be on the bottom of the lid. It will let you know (thru codes you will have to look up or post) what options the car has including the Z51 and color code.
  • Make sure you start the car, go for a test drive, take it in a huge parking lot and let the owner know you what you are going to do.
  • Gradually (not to squeel the tires) floor the car and make sure there is no hard clanks or hesitation, etc do this only once unless something feels wrong bc you dont want to keep flooring the car, the owner might hurt you:L
  • Make sure that no lights flash on the panel above the radio
  • At about 20mph swirve left and rght and listen, the car should feel like it is on rails (crisp steering response)
  • do the other usual test drive things for regular cars too. The Vette should feel tight
  • Im guessing that you know how to check the engine (visually), there should be no rust except maybe for the exhaust manafold
I will finish this later, feel free to add everyone!:cool
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
3,668
Location
Mustang, OK
Corvette
'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
Z51 was available on the '96 model and I had one of those. I liked the ride.

From '91 to '95, the handling package was called Z07 and it came with the Selective Ride Control FX3 (adjustable shocks if you like). The Z07 cars are very nice but the Selective Ride Control system can be expensive to repair if you want to keep it original - or you can replace the system with regular Z51 shocks for a '96 car.

dogfish is right about test driving the car and checking all the warning lights above the radio. It should drive like a Corvette and be free of strange noises while accelerating, turning and braking.

Don't buy the first Vette you test drive until you have driven several others. Many of the C4's have their own personality - try to find the one that fits you.
 
D

dogfish246

Guest
Lets see:

  • Check both composite leaf springs (one in front one in rear that run from the right wheel to the left wheel) make sure they are not cracked
  • Check each shock (probably yellow) and make sure they are all good no major leaks
  • Check tires and make sure they have pleanty of tread bc tires can cost $1000 depending on your application
  • Talk to the owner and ask him anything. Vette owners can be different then other car owners... our Vettes are something special for us!:thumb
  • Make sure the ac works, turn signals, wipers, defrosters, etc...
  • Make sure the interior has beem taken care of (expensive to replace items
  • If the car has been taken care of it usually means that the owner loved his Vette and it really was taken care of... You want one of these vettes bc the messed up ones have been abused
  • pick a race car color like red, yellow, blue, etc (thats how I feel) because before you own a vette you will like every color, ;)
  • Make sure the green light above the little airconditioning buttons is not flashing bc that would mean there is a problem with the ac system
  • I will add more as I think of more stuff... there is soooo much!
  • I would say to find a C4 vette owner and ask him to go with you... he would know best, buy him lunch or dinner or something!:rotfl
Show us some ads of your narrowed down choices...:cool
 

PAULIE B

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Messages
253
Location
LONG ISLAND, NY
Corvette
2007 sliver, 02 sold ,87 sold
I've had C3's, C4's, one C5 and one C6. I would definitely rule out the C3 as a daily driver (and that's pretty much what you are planning with a projected 6-7k miles per year). My opinion? I'd go with a C5. The technology and comfort level (if that's important to you) far surpass the C4. If you are focusing on C4's, definitely go with a '95 or '96 and try to go with one with lower miles. All the bugs and glitches were worked out by then!!

My advice to anyone is to buy the newest with the lowest miles that you can afford!

Let us know how you make out.

Elaine

I AGREE WITH GS DIVA!!!!:thumb I HAVE A C4 87 NOT TO TALK BAD ABOUT MY BABY BUT, COMFORT AND TECHNOLOGY ARE NOT THEIR LIKE THE C5'S.
SO IN MY OPINION C5 ALL THE WAY!;) GOOD LUCK KEEP US UPDATED:coolMY NEXT ONE WILL BE C5 OR C6 WITH OUT A DOUT.:thumb:w
 
T

Towu4free

Guest
Hekk man, a lot of these guys on here know more about the vettes than i do but im steadily learing through trials and problems of my own, you have come to the best site possible thes gentlemen have helped me to the point where they probably lost as much sleep as i did trying to diagnose my car when i had an issue, ;) i might even sell you my c4 you can see a brief pic and info on my profile/sig, 131k miles, id be glad to let ya drive it and run it through the motions and see what you think!:upthumbs i love my car i really do but i wouldnt mind a C5 myself, if i had to let mine go id try to get $10,100 but anyway, good luck and let us know which one you find a lot of intrest in and maybe we all can critique (spelling?) it for you

:w
 

Wyatt_Earp

New member
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
3
Location
Columbus, OH
Corvette
1991 Red Hatchback Coupe
Hey everyone,

Thanks again for all the feedback, it should be invaluable in my search. As for stepping up to the C5, in your opinion, would it be better if I went for a low mileage C4 (30-40k mi.) for ~$12,000 or a higher mileage C5 (80-90k mi.) for ~$15,000? I wouldn't mind getting a C5, but they are at the top end of my price range, and usually have quite a few more miles on them.
 

PAULIE B

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Messages
253
Location
LONG ISLAND, NY
Corvette
2007 sliver, 02 sold ,87 sold
but the C5 is in my ownerships experiance is better car. I would go with a higher mileage C5 for a multitude of reasons.[/QUOTE]

YOU MIGHT SPEND MORE INITIALLY BUT, IN THE LONG RUN LESS COMPLICATIONS:thumb. C5 ALL THE WAY:thumb. LOVE MY C4 87 :cool:w
 

CROOZ1N

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
106
Location
Roanoke VA
Corvette
1993 Torch red coupe
The only thing I'd do different is to drive more cars before I bought one. This car came at us across the parking lot at Circuit City and the wife said "That's my car!!"How can you refuse? Anyway we drove it loved it and we bought it. Of course the price was great. I just wish that it was a 6 speed but then I'd be replacing the clutch every year with her driving it.
I hope to have a 2001 or 2002 Z06 within the next couple of years and then she can drive the 93 all the time.

The longer I have it the more I like it. It was somewhat intimidating to work on at first but with the FSM and this forum I think I can do most anything.

I generally do all my own work and have on every car I've had.

I'd also recommend picking up a copy of the Corvette Black Book. It gives specs on all years of cars option codes number built horsepower and some items and facts to differentiate that model year. Very valuable tool.

Bottom line I think is whats already been said . Buy the most Vette you can afford, But love em all!!

Then join a local club have fun and remember to wave at other Vette owners.
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
3,668
Location
Mustang, OK
Corvette
'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
Hey everyone,

Thanks again for all the feedback, it should be invaluable in my search. As for stepping up to the C5, in your opinion, would it be better if I went for a low mileage C4 (30-40k mi.) for ~$12,000 or a higher mileage C5 (80-90k mi.) for ~$15,000? I wouldn't mind getting a C5, but they are at the top end of my price range, and usually have quite a few more miles on them.

The C4 and C5 have such different personalities that it would be hard to say which is better. The new cars makes for a better daily driver since they are newer and service is easier - most of the time. The C4 is getting a few years on as even the 1996 is 14 years old now.

The C4 feels like you're strapping on a fighter jet while the C5 is much more refined with more room. The C4 rewards agressive driving styles while the C5 reward finese.

Drive both examples and find out what personality you like.
 

bb2kksy

Active member
Joined
Mar 13, 2009
Messages
39
Location
Pikesville, Maryland
Corvette
1979 Dark Blue T-Top
I have a C3, 79T-Top, 3:55 rear, 13mpg, auto. Would not trade it for anything. Fast, sticks to the road. Think it has more character than some of the newer ones. Just my dime.
 

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