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LT4 First Vette - LT4 or LS1?

1996 LT4 Topic
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
8
Location
Colorado
I'm brand new here so let me make a brief introduction.

After years of admiring Corvettes I've made up my mind to buy one. I'm currently saving my $ and deciding which one to buy. I have to say I really like these 1996 LT4s from everything I've seen/read. Never been in one though.

Others that I like in my price range are the early C5s (pre 2003). While I know they are quite a bit different, I like what I know of both.

So my question is, from the experience here what would be a better car for a first time Vette owner? An LT4 of early C5 (LS1)? Or what about a late C4 ('92-'96) LT1 and then do some performance upgrades over time?

I like Coupes best and prefer manual even though I'm mostly looking for a weekend "cruiser". It just seems that if you're going to drive a Corvette it should be a manual. I could possibly be convinced to go auto though (would obviously rule out LT4).

Bonus question: Are all '96 Vettes with manual trans. an LT4? I didn't think so but recently read an article stating that was the case.

Thanks for your time and help. I've enjoyed the site already.
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
3,675
Location
Mustang, OK
Corvette
'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
First: :welcome

You need to drive both and decide which style Corvette you like the most.
The C4 cockpit is smaller than the C5 and feels like a fighter cockpit compared to the C5.
The C4 ride is a little harsher than the C5 especially if you get a Z51 '96 or a ZO7 older C4.

The C5 has a bigger storage area in the coupe and a trunk in the convertibles.

Personally, I stay away from the ZO7 and FX3 optioned C4s as the adjustable shocks can be hard to find when replacements are needed.

My wife and I owned an LT4 CE Z51 for several years and really liked that car. The LT4 is a really nice engine and makes about the same HP as the early LS1 C5s.

After you drive a few of them, give us an update on what you like.
 

Wegone

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2002
Messages
516
Location
Atlanta GA.
Corvette
82,91 ZR-1,
Had both, a 96 CE LT4 and an 04 LS1, I used the 04 for over 10 years a DD with most of the 170k miles driving between Atlanta and Tampa. I will add the only costs on the 04 were normal maintenance. It was absolutely a great road car but over time when I got in it it was just a car. one thing I did like about the C5 was the ride and handling did not change with the top out. The C4 has always felt like more of a drivers car much better cockpit feeling.

As already stated you need to go out and drive them both and decide what you want. I just sold the C5 and the 96 last year and went for another C4 and could not be happier. And yes in 96 all LT4 cars are 6 speeds.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
8
Location
Colorado
Had both, a 96 CE LT4 and an 04 LS1, I used the 04 for over 10 years a DD with most of the 170k miles driving between Atlanta and Tampa. I will add the only costs on the 04 were normal maintenance. It was absolutely a great road car but over time when I got in it it was just a car. one thing I did like about the C5 was the ride and handling did not change with the top out. The C4 has always felt like more of a drivers car much better cockpit feeling.

As already stated you need to go out and drive them both and decide what you want. I just sold the C5 and the 96 last year and went for another C4 and could not be happier. And yes in 96 all LT4 cars are 6 speeds.

Thanks Tuna & Wegone. Very helpful. I do need to drive them both for sure and will let you know when I do. I wanted to make sure I was on the right path first and it sounds like I am. I see pros and cons to both but I do like the unique factor of the LT4s.

I should ask the question about manual trans better. I know that the '96 LT4s are all manual, but what about the LT1s in '96? Were they offered in both auto & manual? The reason I ask is I will see some on-line that don't specify which engine but I have the search filtered for manual trans. only. Would all of those be LT4s or are there LT1s from '96 that are manual? I assumed the LT1 was offered in both that year but I saw somewhere that said, "all manual trans. corvettes in '96 are LT4s". So I wasn't sure.

Thanks agin, I appreciate any input I can get.
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
3,675
Location
Mustang, OK
Corvette
'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
know that the '96 LT4s are all manual, but what about the LT1s in '96? Were they offered in both auto & manual? The reason I ask is I will see some on-line that don't specify which engine but I have the search filtered for manual trans. only. Would all of those be LT4s or are there LT1s from '96 that are manual? I assumed the LT1 was offered in both that year but I saw somewhere that said, "all manual trans. corvettes in '96 are LT4s". So I wasn't sure.

For '96, all LT1 cars were auto and all LT4 cars were manual. Seems odd but if you wanted the 6-sp in '96, you had to buy the LT4 engine.
There have been many LT4 conversions created with automatics. So make sure of what you are looking at. RPO stickers are a good place to look. In the late C4, it was under the lid of the right rear storage compartment.

I converted my LT1 '92 coupe to the LT4 configuration using the LT4 heads and Intake and the LT4 Hot Cam. My 92 was a 6-sp so it confused a lot of folks.
 

wingnut96lt4

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
67
Location
Greenwich Ct
Corvette
84 Crossfire 96 LT4 Torch Red Coupe
L t 4 ls 1

My $02. I have an LT4 and love it. That engine is a high winding thing. When you are driving and it opens up it is music to your ears. I eliminated the mufflers and have a straight pipe the sound is great . Go for the LT 4 YOU FEEL LIKE PART OF IT:thumb
 

xfirez51

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 2, 2007
Messages
280
Location
Chicagoland
Corvette
1992 Black Rose ZR-1
If you want a full symphony orchestra, drive the ZR-1 w an LT-5. It's much more than an LT-4+1.
 

Wegone

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2002
Messages
516
Location
Atlanta GA.
Corvette
82,91 ZR-1,

LT4CE

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Messages
168
Location
Northern California
Corvette
1996 LT4 CE
I can't believe I didn't see this thread sooner!

The thing about the LT4 that I find the most enjoyable is that it feels like it has a lot of power. If feels a little raw, like it wants to run. The C5 is more refined in terms of the ride and how the engine feels. I'm talking about 'seat of the pants' driving.

The C5 probably handles a bit better and definitely rides a little smoother. Overall power is, as already mentioned, about the same between the LT4 and LS1. The LT4 was rated at 330HP, but in reality they're a little north of 350. I think the early C5's, while rated at 345HP, were also a bit north of 350.

The C4 cockpit is more snug, that's for sure. You'll either like that or not. I will say the C4 is a bit harder to climb out of.

I've also heard that some critical parts for the early C5's are getting harder to get. Of course, with any car in the 15 - 20 year old range, parts availability should be considered.

Regarding LT1's converted to LT4's, I think the best way to know if any '96 Vette you're looking at was born an LT4 is by the VIN. If the 8th position is a 'P', then it was born an LT1. If the 8th position is a '5', then it was born an LT4. (Corvette Action Center | Research Center | C4 Corvette | 1996 Corvette | 1996 Corvette Identification)
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
8
Location
Colorado
Thanks for all the advice and information. I think after some research and up close looks I've settled on getting a C4. And while the LT4 is at the top of my list I wonder if I should be considering the LT1s more, especially the automatics (I know this would rule out the LT4). Initially my thought was to get a manual for sure and I'm still leaning that way but I'm curious about the cost to own/maintain a manual vs automatic in the later LT1s and obviously LT4s. I understand the performance pros & cons to both and the "fun factor" of a manual but I'm mostly interested in reliability, repair costs etc. from those who may have experience with both.

Thanks again for all the help.
 

DaveClary

New member
Joined
Apr 14, 2012
Messages
1
Location
Indiana
Corvette
1996 LT1 coupe competition yellow
I have owned a 96 LT1 automatic for 5 years now. I love the car! Drive it as much as possible but only in dry weather.
Get rid of the run flats and the feel of the car on the road is amazing. The LT1 has plenty of go power, and has been vary reliable.
Mine came from the factory with the performance rear axle.
 

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