What's New for 1996
New 330-horsepower LT4 engine debuts on all manually shifted Corvettes. Two special editions are available, the Collector Edition and the Grand Sport. Next year, an all-new Corvette debuts. Other additions for 1996 include a Selective Real Time Damping system for the shock absorbers, and a stiffer Z51 suspension setup.
Really, this car needs no introduction. Existing largely unchanged since late 1983, the current Corvette has been continually improved each year, enough so that it ranks as one of the best sports cars you can buy at any price. And, compared to most of its upscale competitors, the Corvette offers brash style, performance and image at a relative bargain.
The Corvette's styling still seems fresh, even after 13 years in production. Still, it's been a long time since a thorough redesign, and the Corvette is beginning to show its age. For 1997, Chevrolet is planning to roll out a new Corvette, and it will likely showcase cutting-edge technology and represent a vast improvement over the current model.
To send the fourth-generation Corvette off in style, Chevrolet has developed two special edition models for 1996. The first is a Collector Edition, painted in an exclusive Sebring Silver color and sporting wheels and tires from the dearly departed ZR1. Perforated leather seats with "Collector Edition" embroidery can be ordered in Torch Red, Black or Light Gray. Available in coupe or convertible format, the Collector Edition is the best looking Corvette we've seen in some time.
More exclusive is the other special edition 1996 Corvette. Called the Grand Sport in tribute to five lightweight Corvette race cars constructed in the early 60s, this model is painted in an exclusive Admiral Blue Metallic, with a white racing stripe and red hash marks on the front left fender. Black aluminum wheels, rear fender flares, and perforated leather come with the package. Only 1,000 examples of the Grand Sport will be produced.
Showcasing a new LT4 engine, the Grand Sport's V8 makes 330 horsepower and is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. This powertrain is available on all 1996 Corvettes. Cars equipped with an automatic have the LT1 engine from last year under the clamshell hood, making 300 horsepower.
New to the Corvette for 1996 is an optional Selective Real Time Damping system, which adjusts the shock absorbers every 10 to 15 milliseconds to provide optimum control of the vehicle. Coupes can be equipped with a Z51 Performance Handling Package, tuned for autocross and gymkhana enthusiasts. We don't recommend this ultra-stiff setup for street use, unless you want to have your dentist refill your teeth every few months.
Were it not for the excellent Camaro Z28, we'd recommend the Corvette, but we think the extra 20 grand it costs over the Z car would be better spent on a Jeep Wrangler for weekend treks to the north country and a few coolers full of Killian's Red. However, most Corvette buyers aren't interested in bang-for-the-buck; they want the name and the styling found on the Corvette. The new for 1996 special editions give them just one more reason to shop this Chevy.