Welcome to the Corvette Forums at the Corvette Action Center!

Looking to get into a c-4 and need advice

B

BIGBADJOHN

Guest
Hi guys...nice website you have here. I was referred here by someone on another forum who has a corvette and thought I'd take a sec to ask some questions. I hope u guys don't mind, and I look forward to your responses.

I'll start by telling you a little about myself and what I would like to do. I currently drive a 1999 Ford SVT Contour sport sedan. Its a nice car with a 200 hp 2.5L v-6, manual transmission, and .9 g skidpad rating. It puts down 173 hp to the front wheels and the best quarter mile pass I have mustered with it is 15.03 at 90 mph at Atlanta Dragway. This car is great, but doesn't have that muscle car feel I lost when I sold my first car, a restored 1971 chevelle 350 malibu. The tax man has been good to me, so I've decided to chase after one of my dream cars.....the early 90's corvette. I used to dream about those things every day in high school, and now I think one is in my reach.

I also like to drag race, attend open track events, etc, so having a car that remains one of the top 10 sportscars in the world wouldn't exactly hurt my hobby interests.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, I was hoping you guys could answer a few questions for a prospective C-4

1. My goal is to buy a 1989 to 1995 corvette. The car has to be a manual, preferably a targa top. I want the price to be in the mid to high teens and have no more than 65,000 miles. Is this a realistic price for what I want?

2. I ideally want a car capable of mid 13 second quarter mile times. How do the later model L98 cars compare to this goal? I understand that the 89-90 models were only capable of low 14s. If this is true, then how does the L98 respond to minor bolt on modifications?

3. What are some common flaws associated with the later c-4's what are some "red flags" that I should try to avoid?

4. What are common repairs associated with the corvettes of this vintage? Are the cars pretty durable or do they require lots of shop time?

5. How does the market view these cars in terms of resale?

I am very excited about my upcoming purchase but I am forcing myself to be patient until I have all the info I need to scout for that perfect vette. I also need to sell my SVT contour so I can be in the best position possible when my vette comes along. thanks for all your help guys, and sorry for the long post.
 
6

69Crazy

Guest
2 cents worth

I will leave performance questions to those that push their C-4's hard....I don't. But some good advise from someone who made the mistakes. If the car has been modified, run, do not walk away or buy the car wholesale....NO, BELOW WHOLESALE The previous owner of my '90 had an aftermarket radio installed...BAAADDDD IDEA. I think that the installer used a chainsaw! I knew that there were
AC problems but my car is still down to the firewall and it isn't close to being fixed yet. All from a goofball with wirecutters.

C-4's are plentiful so don't expect much appreciation unless you buy a ZR-1. They are rolling computers so don't expect too many people to know how to fix them. They handle like a dream so you will enjoy the ride.....while it lasts.

1) BUY THE MOST BASIC ONE YOU CAN....C60 AC (MANUAL CONTROLS) work just fine!!!!!
2) Sign up with AAA....
3) Enjoy the most incredible performance that 12K will buy!!!!!!

I will sell you a sweet (non-AC functional) '90 that is otherwise perfect and deliver it to Georgia!

Louie
 

Spiderman

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
139
Location
Grand Haven, MI, USA
Corvette
Gorgeous White '91 Coupe
Do you happen to have any photos of your '90?
How many miles on it?
What are you looking to get for it?
I'm looking:D
 
S

Stan A

Guest
Hello and welcome to the CAC

Big John,

Buying a Corvette is not as easy as you may think. The right move was to ask for help here on the CAC.

Lets start with what you want to know and then explore some options on different years and models.

I will answer each question you ask here:
***************************************************
I also like to drag race, attend open track events, etc, so having a car that remains one of the top 10 sportscars in the world wouldn't exactly hurt my hobby interests.

*** Drag racing is fun but in many cases this will depend on "how deep your pockets maybe". Performance costs and maintenance cost. Certainly, breakdowns will be costly too. At this time let us move on and come back to this subject***
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. My goal is to buy a 1989 to 1995 corvette. The car has to be a manual, preferably a targa top. I want the price to be in the mid to high teens and have no more than 65,000 miles. Is this a realistic price for what I want?

*** All coupe Corvettes from 1984 to 2002 have removeable tops. Yes, the price you want to pay with the mileage you indicate is very possible***

2. I ideally want a car capable of mid 13 second quarter mile times. How do the later model L98 cars compare to this goal? I understand that the 89-90 models were only capable of low 14s. If this is true, then how does the L98 respond to minor bolt on modifications?

*** In order for you to run the mid 13 sec 1/4 mile, you will need a modified L98 (1985 thru 1991). Average cost to reach this goal will range from 2k to 5k. Depending on the car itself. If its a strong car or weak car or in the middle. There many different bolt-ons for the L98, however, supercharging offers only one choice. You can get very good response from so called "bolt-ons".***

3. What are some common flaws associated with the later c-4's what are some "red flags" that I should try to avoid?

*** Surprisely, models do have so called "red flag" issue. The 350 cu inch motor for both the L98 and the LT1 series suffer with intake leaks. This is not very expensive to fix. The LT1 has a water pump issue with most years. I would say that the Corvette is above average in this area of reliability as compared to most sports cars in its class.***

4. What are common repairs associated with the corvettes of this vintage? Are the cars pretty durable or do they require lots of shop time?

*** Like I said above, I do not believe that this will be a major factor when it comes to purchasing a car. They durable and reliable in most cases. There are several models like the ZR1 that can cost you big dollars if your luck runs bad***

5. How does the market view these cars in terms of resale?

*** Re-sale on the Corvette is about average depending on the model. Some are more in demand than other. I would say that from a over all basis the Corvette does well. ***

As to selecting a car, I and everyone else will have questions for you. Kind I suggest that this forum is a good starting point but because of limited space that you move to direct communications. If you want to e-mail me directly, I will gladly discuss "what fors" and "what ifs" to find a direction for you to follow regarding a purchase. We can discuss all performance issues and direct options for performance improvements. I can also supply with acceleration numbers for all years and models. Directing a Consumer Performance Test group affords me this options to pass on to buyers like yourself.

e-mail: stanadelman@attbi.com
phone: 770-993-0023 evenings

Hope this will be helpful. I know that I speak for all of those hear on the CAC when I say everyone will gladly help with your purchase decision.


Stan A
 
L

LT1Vettepilot

Guest
A little advice

The first and most important thing I can say is... DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And second, BE PATIENT!!!!!!!!!
Starting off asking questions here in the CAC is a great place to begin the process to find yourself a great C4. Now onwards to what you need to keep an eye out for.
I spent the better half of a year and half looking for a C4 in well enough condition that it wouldn't need much work from me. Remember the old addage, pay me now or pay me later. This is extremely true in the Corvette world. You might find yourself drooling over a beautiful Corvette one day with an unbelievable price tag. Say for example you come across a great looking '85 for $5,000. Jumping in on such a deal will only cause you headaches, heartaches, and wallet aches. By the time you got the car together CORRECTLY, you would have spent much more than you could have buying one in good condition. As was previously mentioned, the later C4s are computers on wheels. If something isn't working when you buy the car, unless you've got access to a money tree, it probably won't be working when you get tired of dealing with the problems in the car.
There are two types of Corvette owners out there...On one side of the spectrum is the Corvette enthusiast. This person takes care of their investment, keeps up with maintanance, and generally takes care of the car. This person's Corvette will demand a high dollar, and be worth every penny because it will last. On the other end of the spectrum is the person that drives a Corvette purely as a status symbol and doesn't care about the heritage. This car is going to be much worse shape, may not have everything working correctly, paint flaws, high mileage, it probably has a high price tag on it just because they think its a Corvette they can get top dollar. These are more common, and something to look out for. With all this said, I'll see if I can give you some more particular advice per your questions.
1. Looking for an '89-'95 in the mid to high teens will be easy. Finding a manual transmission will be much more difficult. All coupes are targa tops, not a problem to find. But, like I said, be weary of what you are looking for. If there is ANY indication that something isn't quite right, it probably isn't. Make sure all the electronics are working, body panels aren't cracked, etc. If the top is a "glass" top, besure its not delaminating. A top can run you up to $1500 alone. Be sure the bolts that hold the top in place aren't stripped out, insure the air bladders in the seats are working properly and don't deflate on their own (all the seat adjustments such as lumbar and side bolsters are air bladders) Check to be sure the tires are the correct size. Other than that, you should be able to find one in the 65,000 mile range or less. I picked up my '96 with 62,000 miles on it in great shape in the upper teens. Onto your next one....
2. I don't have any experience with the L-98 engines, however if you can find a Callaway in great shape, it should get you close to the numbers you want. Like all small block v-8s produced by Chevy, its a reliable power plant and will readily accept bolt ons designed for it.
3. I think I covered this area already. One thing to watch out for is in the early C4s with the 4+3 Doug Nash manual. Anything goes wrong with it...be prepared to shell out some cash to have it fixed. The late C4s tend to have an oil leak problem at the intake manifold, along with water pump failure. This can be expensive...as I just had mine fixed, under extended warranty fortunetly, to the tune of $1000. If you buy from a reputable lot, an extended warranty on the drivetrain is highly recommended.
4. Again, I think I just answered this. Generally, if the car has been taken care of, you won't have to worry about extensive shop time. Yes its a world class sports car...but its still genuine Chevrolet. Of course if you opt for a ZR-1...be sure you have the support to back up the service requirements. Not all Chevy dealers have mechanics that have attened the LT-5 school, and not many have experience working on them. Plus, the LT-5 requires special tools. All that should be considered before purchasing a ZR-1. The L98 and LT1 isn't such a problem.
5. The market is going to depend heavily on supply and demand. As the summer months approach, you can expect prices to rise, but not too much. The Corvette holds its value fairly well as long as it is maintained well and the prices stay pretty steady.
Just a couple of last things...
Glad to see you're getting out of your Ford and into a real car :cool I'm sure you'll find a few more die hard Chevy fans here as well...I'll try not to pick on your Ford too much.
...and once you get you're Corvette...don't forget to wave
:w
 
B

BIGBADJOHN

Guest
Thanks guys for the thorough and helpful advice. I appreciate everything you have said. I am currently working with a corvette only dealership called corvette city. The salesperson I am working with is trying to sell me a black on grey leather 1994 six speed car with 50k miles. The car is perfect, but the deal is not. Trade in value on my contour is killing me. Obviously, I would prefer an LT1 car given my goals, but I have opened my search up to a late L98 car due to their affordibility, lower insurance, and ZF 6 speed option. I am looking for a bone stock car that has not been modified. I would not want to modify the corvette I get much past an intake/filter and perhaps a nice exhaust (borla or corsa comes to mind). I would want the car to remain as close as possible to how chevy intended it. I only hope to find a car that I can get financing on....and herein lies a few more questions for you guys.

Do you guys know of anyone who has bought a corvette from corvette city or a similar corvette specialty dealer?

I need financing with terms similar in length to a newer car....48 to 60 months. I believe this will be hard to find without working with a specialty dealership. Can any of you guys point me to some financing alternatives? I know that your average commercial bank will not touch a car note of that length on a car over 2 years old not to mention 8 to 10.

A common problem I see with corvettes is the condition of the leather seats....some folks do not know how to properly treat them, causing undue wear and cracking. Is it very expensive to reupholster the seats?

And finally, what is YOUR favorite thing about the C4 corvette? In other words, what influenced YOUR purchase decision the most?

Once again, thanks for helping a newbie and I appreciate your responses.
 

Rob

Site Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
13,763
Location
New Hampshire
Corvette
1990 Corvette ZR-1
John,

Welcome to the Corvette Action Center.

Two issues come to mind regarding the C4 generation of Corvette. One common problem is the Optispark distributor which is found on the 1992 - 1996 model years. They are prone to water damage. It's not a reason to not buy a C4, but realize that eventually, the chances are good that you'll end up facing this problem somewhere down the road if you purchase one of these model years.

The other thing is the interior. The leather used on the seating surfaces is not the most durable. The high wear portion of the seats happens to be the side bolsters. Each time you get in and rub your jeans or other coarse material over the surface, you gradually wear them down. This occurs if you are not careful entering and exiting the car. One thing I have found that helps is that I keep a special towel on the drivers seat and which covers the side bolsters. After nearly 24,000 miles, my seats look exactly the same as they did when they left the factory. It may not look nice, but it only takes two seconds to remove a towel vs. having to replace the seat covers.

The leather seat covers are not only not cheap, they are hard to come by as well. Keep this in mind prior to buying a C4 with damaged seat covers. Hope this helps.
 
V

vetsvette

Guest
I would suggest you buy the newest one you can afford. While all the C4's are great cars, every year was an improvement over the last. The '96 had the best engine (excluding the King of the Hill of course) in the LT4. I have heard of LT4's going for prices in the 19-20K range. Not many but some. This car comes with the 6 speed you want and it has an improved optispark that is not so sensitive to moisture. I would also try to pick up a copy of the Corvette Black Book. It lists the specs and opyions for all years. Also check www.corvettemagazine.com they have a Corvette Price Calculator. Just plug in the specs of the car you are looking for or at and it will give you a price. Don't take what it gives you as gospel but it should be in the ballpark. Like someone else said, they get more expensive as summer draws near, but don't get in a rush. Wait for YOUR car. It'll know you when you see it.
And don't forget to wave.:w
 

Paul G

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2001
Messages
200
Location
Griffith, IN, USA
Corvette
96 CE LT4 Convertible
I would look more at the condition of the propective cars than age or mileage. A well cared for older car is a better investment than a newer abused, or neglected car.

The L98's have tremendous low end torque. It is not uncommon for an L98 to pull off on an LT1 out of the hole. The LT1's will overtake an L98 on the top end. This is for basically stock cars. You can mod either of them up as much as you want to go.

Good luck in your search.
 
E

Eagle85C4

Guest
Actually Gentlemen....

Finding a good Corvette is easy. I found mine on EBAY and bought it sight unseen. Took a vacation and flew to Virginia from Toledo. Spent a week changing light bulbs, tune up and every little thig I could find wrong. Then drove it back to Ohio with no problems. Still I have put 8000 miles on it since June and it runs great. Call me lucky...or handy with a wrench. It is an Red 85 Z-51 with 140,000 and I got it for 6000.00. Paint is perfect, rides like a dream. Now I am not saying all is perfect...it is missing all the usual little items like a center cap for one wheel....$30.00, driver side visor....$70.00, dash display....$400.00, shocks...and I need to replace the front rotors. But the car is 17 years old and some of these things need to be changed just from age.

My advice is find one you like and go for it.
 
6

69Crazy

Guest
Addendum

I might lean toward a 94-96 since if fitted with standard seats, they are the most comfortable to ride in. The '96 does give you the benefit of the dual airbags that just might come in handy some day, when you least expect it. Get a radar detector.....you will need it!!!!!!

Best optional equipment....Factory Service Manual with Electrical too....read it and learn about your new toy. Then work on it without fear. Nobody has more motivation to do the job right than you have. With the help of the great people on this site, you can fix anything......I even figured out my AC problem (see post - AC Blues)

Louie:beer :Twist :_rock :Twist
 

Radar

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2001
Messages
200
Location
Oconomowoc, WI
Corvette
1989 Medium Blue Metalic Convertible
Good luck in your search. I bought my 89C for about $15K with 45,000 miles last year in March. I runs great!

The L98 in mine pulls strong with the automatic (only trans avail in the conv). Check the axle ratio in the car you find. These vettes could be ordered with several rear end options. Mine has 2:59 gears, not the best for drags!. Not that hard to change but why mess around if you can get a car with 3:89 to 4:11 gears right off.

You will REALLY be impressed with the muscle compared with your Ford. The Vettes idle the quarter faster than that (just kidding but not by much).

Good luck and welcome to the site!

Radar :beer :w :upthumbs
 
B

BIGBADJOHN

Guest
Thanks for helping a newbie!

Hi guys, I want to say thanks for all the advice you have provided me. I have not had the same experience on other (ford) forums. I appreciate you guys taking it easy on a rookie.

Your perspectives about the different years, options, and ideas are a great asset. In looking around the web, on here, and in the metro ATL area for about two weeks, I have learned a lot. Here's my game plan so far.

1. To narrow down my search and focus on my goal, I have laid out some specific parameters. I want a 1993-1995 corvette coupe. The vette must have the six speed transmission and less than 70k miles, with ideal mileage being around 50k to balance newness with affordability. Options I would prefer but do not have to have include a glass top, sport 8 way power seats, and FX3 adjustible suspension. Price cap is around $19k (which is roughly $400 a month financed for 60 mo @ 10%) this will vary somewhat depending on interest rate, car condition, dealership, etc. Any color will do nicely with the exception of the turquoise/teal color. Yuck (no offense to anyone) Ideal but not required would be a black or white corvette with red leather seats. However, if I stumble on a pristine 89 or 90 L98 car (especially if its equipped with the Z07 suspension) then I'd have to look at it too.

2. Maintain my patience. I put down a $500 deposit on a black 1994 six speed coupe with grey leather seats. It had basically every option including FX3, Bose sound, sport seats, and smoke blue glass top. The car had 50k miles on it. It needed new rear tires, but other than that it was in great shape. The dealer wanted $ 21995 for it and wouldn't budge. Also, I am upside down by $3000 on his trade in offer on my car. Rather than take his crummy deal (other 94's in the atlanta area with similar options and mileage are going for $17k-$19k) Therefore, I asked for my deposit back today since we could not come together on a deal. I am forcing myself to find the car with the right price, as well as the right salesperson/private owner that will shoot me straight. I was told I will have my deposit back by Friday....there is no sense in getting over my head with a payment just because I have vette fever.

3. To put myself in a better position from a buyers perspective, I am going to try and sell my SVT Contour. Even if I sell it for a slight loss, I can write the loss off on taxes and still have enough to put down on a vette.

So, the longer I wait, the chances are the better position I am in to buy. That brings up another question. Does anyone know a jam up great corvette dealer in the Southeastern US? I'd like your comments here.....also....know of any finance companies that are willing to finance a C-4 for 60 mo? 60 mo is a must to be within my $400/mo budget....I am under 25, so I can't afford more payment than this on top of the $220 a month insurance I was quoted.

Thank you, and your advice is appreciated!
 
V

vetsvette

Guest
Just a suggestion: I would skip the FX3 option. If you ever have a problem the parts are very expensive compared to standard or the Z51 option. If you want a better handling suspension you can always change shocks, swaybars, etc. The FX3 is a nice option but a little too expensive in the long run. Just my opinion.
Check with a local credit union to check their rates. Also shop around for your insurance. You might be able to do better.:w
 
6

69Crazy

Guest
Go slow.....

Everyone on this forum has been in the same position as you when we decided to go for our Corvette. I promise you that you will make a huge mistake if the decision is made while in the grip of Corvette fever. Dang, I almost wet my pants when the guy pulled the cover off the '69 that I flew from Oregon to Maryland to see. Thank goodness I pre-negotiated the deal or I would have probably paid more than asking price, I wanted the car that badly. Insurance at over $200/month???? I never thought that I would be so glad to be 49 where I can insure two Corvettes as full time drivers for under $900/year.

You should spend some time looking at the market nationwide to know what you should pay for your dream ride. $22K sounds pretty high for a '94. I have seen better. Consider going to Bloomington in June. I bid on a perfect, low milage '92 that sold for 12K (I would have bought it but I wanted 6-speed) . Many people take their cars to a show thinking that they get top dollar. That is true for the real collector cars, not the C-4's...so bargains are available. Try some of the following links if you have not already:
www.collectorcartraderonline.com
www.vettefinders.com
www.ebay.com

In my humble opinion, I would buy from an individual. There are always people that, because of death, divorce, or a new baby, have to sell their toy. It would be worth your time to consider cars in any part of the country that you can reach by air....the drive home might well be the most fun you ever have with your 'Vette.

Go slow now so that you can enjoy going fast later!

Louie
 
R

REO1

Guest
VETTE

I HAVE THE CAR YOU WANT. IT'S A 1990 WITH 22000 MILES ON IT. LOOKS LIKE BRAND NEW, NOT A FLAW ANYWHERE STILL SMELLS NEW INSIDE . MODS. ARE AS FOLLOWS. NEW ZZ-3 ENG. CARBED. WITH HOLLEY 650 DOU. PUMPER, T C I TH400 WITH 3500 STALL, 3.73 GEARS. HOOKER COATED HEADERS, 2 SETS OF TIRES AND WHEELS, 1 IS WELD DRAGLITE PROS FRONT AND REAR SLICKS ON REAR. AND OTHER SET ARE EAGLE POLISHED 5 SPOKE WITH KUMHO 275-45-17s. THE CAR HAS LESS THAN A HUNDRED MILES ON THIS SET UP. SORRY ABOUT THE AUTO. BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT ONE I'LL GET YOU A BRAND NEW 6 SP. FOR $1500.00 AND YOU CAN PUT IT IN.
DUANE KIRCHNER
 
B

BIGBADJOHN

Guest
that's a lot of car!

Hey man, thanks for posting about your beast of a C-4. It sounds real nice. Have you put it to the track yet? While that car sounds like it will pretty much stomp anything, It may be too much car for a daily driver, especially with the 3.73's and the 3500 stall. How much do u want for it?
 

Corvette Forums

Not a member of the Corvette Action Center?  Join now!  It's free!

Help support the Corvette Action Center!

Supporting Vendors

Dealers:

MacMulkin Chevrolet - The Second Largest Corvette Dealer in the Country!

Parts/Accessories:

Vetteskins

Advertise with the Corvette Action Center!

Double Your Chances!

Partners

Top Bottom