1986 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

“Yes to wind. Yes to sunshine.”

For 1986, the big news for Corvette was the return of the convertible, gone since 1975. Other improvements included Bosch ABS II anti-lock brakes, a Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS), and the mid-year introduction of aluminum cylinder heads.

The standard powertrain was the L98 235 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci V8 with fuel injection paired with a Turbo-Hydramatic four-speed automatic transmission. Car and Driver recorded 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. Estimated fuel economy was 17 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (15/22 by today’s standards). With a 20-gallon fuel tank, a Corvette convertible’s proud new owner could expect a range of between 335 and 370 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Built in collaboration with ASC, the convertible included a manual top, a rear-hinged deck panel to cover the top, and an X-brace underneath the floor. The newly-required high-mounted rear brake light was integrated into the rear fascia. Even the gas filler cover was different from the coupe—square because there was no rounded rear hatchback glass for it to wrap around.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $32,032 Corvette convertible (about $76,700 in today’s dollars or about what a well-equipped 2019 Corvette Stingray convertible goes for) included a Delco Freedom Plus II battery, power operated quartz-halogen retractable headlamps, power rack-and-pinion steering, power brakes, and P255/50VR-16 tires on 16 x 9.5 inch cast alloy aluminum wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, Tilt-Telescopic steering wheel, driver information system, cloth seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included performance axle ratio ($22) and Delco-Bilstein shock absorbers ($189)—the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission was a no-cost option. Optional interior equipment included cruise control ($185), power door lock system ($175), electronic control air conditioning ($150), a six-way power driver’s seat ($225), and the Delco-GM/Bose Music System ($895). The Z51 Performance Handling Package was not available with the convertible.

Pages from the 1986 Corvette convertible, linked from the always useful PaintRef.com.

The return of the Corvette convertible was well-received—Chevrolet sold 7,315 in about half a model, even at $5,000 more than the coupe. Reviews were also good; Car and Driver stated that the convertible was “a mighty hospitable carriage.”

There is strong club support for the 1986 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Corvette convertible in #1/Concours condition is $20,200, with a more normal number #3/Good condition car going for $7,700. 1986 Corvette convertibles are regularly featured in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in December 2018, there’s a Yellow car with black leather seats and 29,000 miles available on Hemmings for $17,900.

Make mine White, with red leather seats—the “heritage colors” that match the first Corvette back in 1953.

1980 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

“How many other cars can you name at a single glance?”

For the 1980 model year, the Corvette’s long-running “shark” body style was substantially redesigned for the third time since its debut in the 1968 model year. The front and rear bumper caps were modified with integrated spoilers that decreased the drag coefficient by 14% to 0.443. Chevrolet engineers also managed to remove 167 pounds of curb weight from the Corvette by reducing the thickness of body panels and using aluminum for more parts.

There were two engine options for all states but California, both 5.7 liter/350 ci small blocks with four-barrel carburetors: the standard 190 bhp L48 and the optional ($595) 230 bhp L82. The four-speed manual transmission was only available with the L48—the L82 and the California-only 180 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci LG4 could only be combined with the three-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 14 city/20 highway by the standards of the day with either 350 ci and either transmission. With the relatively rare (about 12% of production) L82 and automatic transmission combination, 0-60 came in about 7.5 seconds.

For the $13,140.24 base price at the beginning of the model year (about $42,800 in 2015 dollars), Corvette buyers got T-tops, power disc brakes, power steering, dual sport mirrors, and a choice of transmissions. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, a tilt-telescopic steering column, an AM/FM radio, and a choice of either cloth/leather or all leather interior were all standard.

Exterior and mechanical options included aluminum wheels ($409) and power antenna ($56). Inside, buyers could add power door locks ($140), cruise control ($123), rear window defogger ($109), and dual rear speakers ($52). 1980 would be the last year that the AM/FM stereo radio with 8-track player ($155) would be more popular than the AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player ($173).

Cover of the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The redesign probably kept Corvette sales from dropping as much as they otherwise would have, but they were still off more than 13,000 units from 1979 as the shark aged. The tagline for Car and Driver‘s review of the 1980 Corvette was “America’s only sports car, but that doesn’t excuse everything.”

There is strong club support for the 1980 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1980 Corvette with the L82 engine in #1/Concours condition is $30,200, with a more normal L48-engined car in number #3/Good condition going for $13,500. 1980 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—as I write this in June 2015, there’s a white one with a red leather interior and 67,000 miles available for $14,000. Make mine just like that, please.

1982 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

“Cross-Fire injection adds to the Corvette performance equation.”

1982 was the final year for the “shark” Corvette but the first year for the L82 Cross-Fire 5.7 liter/350 ci V8—a throttle body fuel-injected design that put out a respectable for the day 200 bhp and 285 lb-ft of torque. The downside was that it was only available with a four-speed automatic transmission; a manual transmission would not return until the middle of the 1984 model year. Top speed for the 1982 Corvette was 125 mph, and Road & Track managed a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. Estimated fuel economy was 15 city/26 highway by the standards of the day—not bad for a fairly large V8 with primitive engine controls.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment in the $18,290 base Corvette (about $45,100 in today’s dollars) included a Delco Freedom II battery, power steering, power disc brakes, and P225/70R15 tires on 15-inch by 8-inch steel rally wheels. Inside, air conditioning, power windows, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, quartz analog clock, and an AM/FM stereo radio were all included.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included power sport mirrors ($125), power door locks ($155), cruise control ($165), electric rear window defogger ($129), gymkhana suspension (only $61 for specially tuned shock absorbers, higher-rate rear spring, and a rear stabilizer bar), two-tone paint ($428), aluminum wheels ($458), and  P255/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires ($543). Optional interior equipment included a six-way power driver’s seat ($197) and an AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player ($423).

Options that date this car include the stereo radio with cassette and Citizens Band  ($755) and the stereo radio with 8-track player ($755). Corvette buyers piled on the options: the average buyer ordered $2,195 worth, raising the sticker to $20,485 (about $50,500 in 2014 dollars).

Rear cover of the 1982 Corvette brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

There is strong club support for the 1982 Corvette, as there is for all Corvettes. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a non-Collector Edition 1982 Corvette in #1 condition is $29,000, with a more normal number #3 condition car going for $13,900. 1982 Corvettes often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I write this in September 2014, there’s a black car with a red leather interior with 39,000 miles available for $18,000.

Make mine one of the relatively rare (and absolutely gorgeous) Silver Green Metallic cars, with the Silver Green interior.

Some Long Distance Travel In An Eighties Car

Last month, my wife and I took a 6,281 mile “jaunt” in my eighties car – a 29 1/2 year old 1985 Light Blue Metallic Chevrolet Corvette coupe.

Last year, Lauren challenged me, causing me to me to write this … screed in May 2013:

“It’s Not The Same As It Was In 2004 …

… I took the 1985 out for some miles today and I noticed some things.

It’s a more tenuous feeling taking her out than it was in 2004. Of course, that was 33,000 miles ago, but the car seems more … fragile. I’m mindful of all that sweat equity (mine and many others) in it and the knowledge that it is now so … old. Less and less early C4s on the road for any reason and she’ll be thirty (!) years old in November 2014.

The car judges well and drives acceptably but the problems remain present and they are a litany: the “dumb as a bag of rocks” computer, the creaks and rattles in the interior, the passenger side power window near death, the console light that keeps slowly melting the console plastic, the seats and steering wheel not far from a recovery, the repaint that is who knows how many thousands of miles out, the characteristic droops on both front and rear bumpers that will need to be fixed with the repaint. They’re known problems and they can get fixed: but some of them (seats, repaint, bumpers) will require cubic dollars.

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