I am looking to buy my first Corvette. It's a toy, I'm in Ohio, so I can
only drive it about 1/2 of the year. I feel guilty spending money on a toy,
so I'm limiting myself to cars under $10k. I located a good candidate. A
1986. The owner wants $8500. It has some minor issues, but it's very strong.
The interior is almost perfect for a 20 year old car. On to my questions:
Is 1986 a decent year for Corvettes?
Are there characteristic problems with 1986 Corvettes I should watch for?
Is this car reasonably realiable?
I could buy now, or wait a year, save a few bucks and start looking at early
90's Corvettes, is that a better plan?
Thanks in advance for any input / advice.
I think you will like the '90s better. However, that could be a year away
and some of them have just as much expense associated with fixing/keeping as
the '80s cars do.
The same rules apply to these as most Corvettes. Little problems can be very
expensive. So the sales pitch of "minor issues" can cost you big dollars,
making what seems like a deal to be a hole you throw money in.
Paint - clear coats often peel. Don't let the pitch "just needs paint" or
"just needs buffed or cleared" make you think it is a deal. You are into
several thousand dollars to fix. $4000 is the average Corvette paint job,
and depending on the mess you may have, it could be more.
Electronics - the C4 began the flirtation with electronics everywhere.
Fortunately, there is a cottage industry to support these 25 year old
electronic designs and components. However, it comes with a cost. Check
these prices for anything you can find wrong before. The LCD I believe is a
$300 issue for almost anything wrong.
I missed out on an '87 a month ago that looked great in pictures. It was
supposed to run good with an occasional miss. The guy had to sell, and it
was down to $4500. I didn't get to check it out, so all I have is what he
said. How does yours compare?
Oops, the pictures are gone for that one.
Try this '89 for $8900. How does it compare?
This '86 for $5000
This '88 for $5500
There is no reason not to buy one from several hundred miles away if you can
save enough money. A C4 should be able to make a 500 or 1000 mile drive with
no problems, or else you don't want it. And it is the thing memories are
made of, a long road trip in a Corvette. Ask Dad, he crisscrosses the
country all the time in one.
With the overdrive, the gas expense will be less than you think, as you
should be cruising along at over 20 mpg easily with 25 mpg probable. So 20
or so gallons of gas for 500 miles is really a bargain if you can save $1000
Go check out this link and other places first. Don't buy the first you see,
because it is kind of like marrying the first girl that takes you to bed.
Some time later, you may discover all you had in common was that one wild
passion, and the rest is terrible.
Try to stay under 100,000 miles, however, if you find one well-cared for at
110,000 or such, don't immediately dismiss it.
This is not the first Corvette I've looked at. I've looked at 4, (3
seriously), driven 3.
I went to see an '85 that looked great in pictures, at a small dealer about
40 miles from
me. It was horrible. Didn't even drive it.
Saw an '88 at a "classic" dealer near me. 80k miles, interior was tired, but
it was nice
otherwise, or so I thought. I drove it, not much punch, and then, it stalled
out on me. I
ran from that one.
The current candidate is an '86 from a private owner. I can't get a read on
the guy. I don't
know for sure if he's the kind of guy you should buy a car from. :) But, the
Someone keyed the car. 2 scratches, one on the door, one on the front fender
scratch about 6" long. Not terribly deep. But the paint is new within the
last 4 years.
Nice and shiny white. The antenna is stuck in the up position. The radio was
an aftermarket. The radio part doesn't work, but the CD player part sounds
heater/ac fan doesn't work at "high". Works on medium and low settings. It
has a cracked
marker light, and the front trim, (nose), is a little high on the passenger
side. Finally, the
power windows go up and down VERY slowly.
The good: 74k miles. New carpet. Interior is very good, dash all works. It
does have the
CD player and good speakers. The paint is very good where not scratched. It
has '96 rims
with Z rated tires, tires have good tread. Newer exhaust, K&N intake, and
chip in the engine.
It's very strong, very responsive. It's a little creaky, even for a
Corvette, but seems to ride
as it should.
He wants 8500, I was thinking of offering 7k and seeing where it goes.
Most of the things you think are good features only go to show that the
current owner has trashed the car with after market crap ... like the
radio,,,??? Best buy special..?? K& N filter etc..all items used to increase
HP..none of witch really do much good..wheels...not original..knock off a
few hundred bucks..antenna..another hundred or so..scratched paint..sever
hundred to blend and match..and now you don't have the original paint. Car
still for sale..ask yourself why...??? Clean title..flood damage...do a
title check..if still interested offer $5000 or dealer trade whichever is
less ....leave your phone # and walk away.Remember aftermarket items on a
Vette often tend to decrease its value..
Also..don't you have a clue what to look for before you run all over the
place looking for a Vette.
Avoid all dealers
Avoid all young drivers
Avoid all second /third/fourth owners
Avoid all Borla /K&N /chip updated cars.
Avoid any car owned by females.
I guess it comes down to what each buyer wants. I'm not looking for a show
car, or a car to turn into a show car. What I want is a car that is fun.
I've wanted a Corvette since I was about 15. I understand that collectors
care about keeping a car factory. I personally think the 84-87? wheels are
ugly. A CD player is an advantage, I like CDs. The intake/exhaust change, it
really does add HP. The chip... that doesn't excite me.
What I want is a Corvette that is fun to drive, that I can occassionally
take to a track and open it up, (club sponsored events). I would like it to
be as reliable as I can reasonably expect.
I appriciate the advice. My biggest challenge at this point is to remain
I was in the same position 2 years ago. I lucked out and found out my
wife's 1st cousin had a 92 C4 in 1- condx for sale for $10K. The
drawback was that it had 106K mi.
I bought it anyway and have been happy with it having to replace the
battery and water pump.
If you are used to driving a luxury car you are in for a shock. The C4
rides rough and is not particularly quiet. On the other hand its a good
freeway cruiser and I get about 28 mpg there. The standard seats have
excellent support as I have a bad back and can drive 8 hrs with no pain
The breakpoint for power seems to be 92 as it acquired the LT1 300hp
engine whereas the 91 model with the L98 had only 240hp.
The 80's C4's also had the all digital dash where I have analog and
digital. They had smaller wheels and tires. I think in 1989 they went
to the 9.5" wheels and 275/40-17's all around. Those big tires to make
it steer hard IMO, as they narrowed them for 1994 I think.
Also be aware that I believe the a/c wasn't fitted with R-134A until
1994. Mine was already converted.
The C4 is hard to get in and out of with the high sills. That makes the
C5 more attractive anong with the extra power of the LS4 is it ?
All I can say is to read, check auctions and be patient.
I once saw a book in B&N "101 projects for your C4 Corvette" I believe
it was called. It gave all the problems and their fixes with C4's and
strengths. I'm kicking myself for not buying it !
Good Luck !
Look on ebay ..1984-87 Vette prices are pretty low..$8500 for a 1986 seems
on the hi side....but like everything else it depends on
I bought a beautiful 1993 Vette on ebay for $9500....perfect condition low
miles....so you 86 does NOT appear to be a bargain..I would shoot for at
least a 1990 because of the several updates that took effect that
year....1994-96 even better..
Never give up on having a toy or two. Dad's general advice on 'vettes
holds particularly true for the C4s -- as the years went on they got
better. Auto transmission was pretty mature from the start. For a
stick, avoid the earlier 4+3--most of these have been expensive to keep
going. Also worth avoiding opti-spark ignition as most of these cars
will need some cooling system maintenance (new water pump etc.)
The comments on the C4's immature electronics are worth noting.
Generally those problems are less frequently seen in the later C4s.
Electronic climate control problems seem to affect all years.
You would probably be better off carrying out a thorough search for a
later '94, '95 or '96 C4. Suggest <www.autotrader.com>, anydistance.
Be patient. You'll see the good, the bad and the ugly -- enjoy.
When I got my C5, I put my '89 up for sale. Clean, auto '89, 55K miles.
No takers at $ 9K and none at $ 8500. I disposed of my leased sedan
and put the C4 into regular service on the freeway. Maintenance will
run more than on the leased car but the low depreciation and fun makes
The one 'nice' thing about buying a used older 'vette is, you'll learn all
Restoring, can be a fun and gratifying hobby. Since this is a 'toy', I think
a good choice, you'll have plenty of things to 'play' with.
I bought an '84 five years ago, I absolutly love it. If you pay attention
to your car the maintenance is about 20% above normal but well worth the
enjoyment of driving a 'vette. I have always been an avid sports car buff
so the rough ride doesn't bother me at all, I changed a few things on the
crossfire (IE: Lunati cam, solids, mallory ignition and headers, eliminated
the catalytic converters and made the exhaust true duals). The additional
horsepower made my 'vette responsive and quick. The good news is if you buy
at $7,000 you can always resell at $6,000. $1000 for a year of driving a
'vette is cheap fun.
'84 arrest red/red
I don't think it is legal or proper to eliminate the cat converters....it's
people like you that are destroying this beautiful planet...you should be
fined and jailed for you total indifference to rest of us...and your Vette
should be impounded.
I hope some one from the Feds reads your post and takes the necessary
actions to get you off the road.
Do you know how many toxins are in the computer you posted this rant on,
and the amount of toxins it took to manufacture, and the pollution that was
created providing you with the electricity to post this?
I'm a surfer and care about the planet, but you have to be reasonable.
The amount that
car will be driven is minuscule. Plus you can bet he has a good tune-up
You can also bet his daily driver has converters on it........ soooo we
just scrap all the classic cars out there. They don't have
And "Needs to be Jailed"? Do you understand how many people are
warehoused our jails?
And what if he has a family, just kick the family to the curb if they
of income. Lose his livelihood........... Like the "jail people that
possess a joint" bunch.
Lone Wolf wrote:
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