1996 was the last year for the C4 generation. The Corvette had evolved
remarkably during those 14 years. It effectively dealt with tough fuel economy and emissions standards while still achieving
remarkable performance goals and quality improvements.
A new Corvette engine - the LT4 - debuted for 1996. The LT1 was
still available and a dividing line of sorts was established with all LT4s mated to manual transmissions and the LT1s assigned
automatic transmission duties. The LT4 (RPO LT4; $1,450.00) was an update of the highly appreciated LT1 and boasted high flow
aluminum heads, larger valves supported by high load springs, a more aggressive camshaft and higher compressions (10.8:1)
pistons. Redline was 6,300 RPM.
A collector edition was also available for 1996 (RPO Z15; $1,250.00)
and was especially attractive with its Sebring Silver exterior. Five spoke ZR-1 9 ½" wheels, painted silver, was a nice touch.
Below: Included was special badging (front nose, left; front fender, right) and "Collector Edition" seat embroidery.
As with the C2 and C3, the last of the C4 offered something special.
A special run of 1,000 Grand Sport Corvettes (RPO Z16; $3,250 - $2,880 for the convertible) with Admiral Blue paint and a
distinctive white stripe were offered. The option included the LT4 motor and a separate serial number sequence. The option
was tribute to a 1963 series of five racing Corvettes that were the brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov. Zora produced the Grand
Sports on the sly but when his bosses learned of their existence, the program was axed since it violated corporate policy.
The Grand Sport featured ZR-1 wheels painted black; Corvette lore
has it that when ZR-1 production ended, GM found themselves with a surplus of wheels that found a home on the Grand Sports.
Above left: Front wheel. Middle: Coupe rear wheel, with fender extension. As with the ZR-1, the rear wheel was 11" wide. Since
the Grand Sport did not have the ZR-1's 3" wider rear bodywork, the fender extension was necessary. Right: For whatever reason,
the convertible Grand Sports were equipped with 9.5" wide rear wheels so the additional flare was not included. 190 of the
1,000 1996 Corvette Grand Sport Corvettes were convertibles.