It’s pretty common knowledge that the first and last version of just about any noteworthy model is eventually going to be collectable. But when Chevrolet’s C4 Corvette ended production in late 1996, General Motors made sure to send the car off with a bang! Wrapping a hotter 330 horsepower LT4 V8 in either silver Collector’s Edition bodywork or the stunning Admiral Blue and Arctic White Grand Sport trim you see here, the result was highly desirable sports cars that are almost guaranteed a future upside. Perhaps the most collectable C4s of all are cars like this striking Grand Sport convertible. Exactly 190 of these intense Y-Bodies rolled off Bowling Green’s storied production line, and this one, showing just over 19K original miles, is one of only 53 equipped with a bright red interior. For guaranteed future value, it’s hard to beat the performance, looks, and rarity of America’s favorite sports car. And if you’re in the market for a modern, no-excuses collector car, this Corvette’s for you!
Before we go any further, here’s a breakdown of the factory window sticker that’s included with the car’s sale.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT INCLUDED AT NO EXTRA CHARGE:
* Accelerated Slip Regulation traction control system
* Five link rear suspension that’s equipped with a transverse fiberglass spring
* Independent front suspension
* Power four wheel disc brake system
* Power rack and pinion steering
* Driver and passenger airbags
* Four wheel anti-lock brake system
* Brake shift interlock
* Passive keyless entry system
* PASSkey II anti-theft system
* Electric, heated and remote-controlled outside rearview mirrors
* Full folding roof
* Glass rear window that’s complete with an electric defogger
* Halogen fog lamps
* Power-retractable halogen headlamps
* AM/FM stereo that’s complete with a clock, a cassette player and a power antenna
* Air conditioning
* Combination of analog and digital instrumentation
* Electronic speed control that’s complete with a resume feature
* Intermittent wiper system
* Adjustable leather seats
* Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel
* Power door locks
* Power windows with driver’s express down feature
* Grand Sport Package ($2,800)
* --- Admiral Blue exterior paint that’s accented by a white stripe and red hash marks
* --- Black 17 inch, 5-spoke wheel
* --- Bright aluminum “CORVETTE” lettering on front brake calipers
* --- Power passenger’s seat
* --- Black floor mats
* Corvette Convertible Preferred Equipment Group ($1,333)
* --- Electronic air conditioning
* --- Delco/Bose music system that includes an electronically tuned AM/FM radio, seek-scan ability, a digital clock and a cassette player
* --- Six way power driver’s seat
* 330 horsepower, 5.7 liter SFI V8 ($1,450)
* Selective real time dampening ($1,695)
* Delco/Bose music system that includes an electronically tuned AM/FM radio, seek-scan ability, a digital clock, a cassette player, a CD player and Delco Loc II technology ($396)
* Low tire pressure warning system ($325)
* “Grand Sport” paint package ($00)
* Grand Sport leather, adjustable sport bucket seats ($00)
* P255/45ZR17 black wall front radials ($00)
* P285/40ZR17 black wall rear radials ($00)
* White convertible top ($00)
STANDARD MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $45,060
TOTAL OPTIONS: $7,999
DESTINATION CHARGE: $565
TOTAL MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $53,624
There’s no ignoring this Grand Sport’s paint job. And for 90s-era GM to build such an insane piece, someone in management really had some guts! Fortunately, history was on their side, and they knew dyed-in-the-wool Corvette guys love their history. So, with a competition-inspired finish and one of the Corvette’s most coveted nameplates on its flanks, the second generation Grand Sport solidified into one fantastic automobile. This one, number 709, is beautifully preserved with original paint throughout. It has clearly been owned by someone who knew exactly what they had as every inch of its body has been lovingly buffed, polished, and waxed on a regular basis. The 17 years of mileage it has accrued barely adds up to 1,100 clicks per summer. Speaking of wear and tear, the car shows very few signs of having been used at all, and even the white stripe at the very tip of its nose is nick-free. And, since the Corvette line has always been among GM’s highest quality cars, overall fit and finish is impressive.
Like all Grand Sports, this special C4 received unique badging, including chrome “Grand Sport” scripts behind its front wheels and chrome Corvette cross-flags on both its hood and decklid. The car’s folding (more like rotating, which is cool all by itself) headlights fit flush. Tinted lenses that house small parking lamps, clear turn signals, and bright fog lights are in excellent condition. Out back, there’s a convex bumper cap that displays no signs of cracking or flexing. Squared-off tail light lenses, which identify the final iteration of the C4, are unmarked as well. The car’s most memorable feature, two red ‘hash marks’ on its driver’s side front fender that pay tribute to the original 1963 Grand Sport, look as vibrant as ever. And overall, this is one very nicely preserved Chevrolet!
As I mentioned earlier, the Grand Sport is much more than just a fancy paint job, and nowhere is that more apparent than under this car’s hood where a powerful LT4 small block is standard equipment. The final evolution of the original small block Chevy V8, it makes a respectable 330 horsepower and 340 pounds of torque, which were very impressive numbers back in 1996. Like the car’s body, it’s also dressed in unique clothes, all the way from a throttle body with special Grand Sport logos and unique red spark plug wires with individually numbered cylinders (By the way, the replacement plug wires from GM no longer carry these numbers, so it’s easy to spot originals) to a red intake manifold and “CORVETTE” branded shrouds. Of course, everything was standard on the GS, including A/C, power steering, power ABS brakes, traction control (which Chevy called Automatic Slip Regulation, or ASR), and it is all beautifully packaged in such a way as to convince you that they really cared about making these cars special. This one is exceptionally well preserved, with few signs of having been driven and clear evidence of expert care. None of the raw aluminum bits show any corrosion, and all the decals—even the one on the ECU, which always falls off first—are completely intact.
The only transmission available with Chevrolet’s stellar LT4 was a rugged and slick-shifting ZF 6-speed manual. That gearbox is an ideal traveling companion thanks to two overdrive gears that allow the LT4 to loaf along at astoundingly high speeds and still pull down great gas mileage. 3.45 gears in the pumpkin feeding the fully independent rear end feature a limited slip that does its best to apportion the power. The fully independent suspension uses composite leaf springs fore and aft, and this is one of only 42 red-lined Grand Sport convertibles equipped with the GM’s still popular F45 adjustable suspension system. Brakes were always a Corvette strong point, and the massive discs at all four corners of this rag-top haul it down from speed effortlessly, featuring gloss black calipers with CORVETTE lettering visible through the wheel spokes. Finishing off the Grand Sport’s long list of unique features are the brilliant black 17-inch A-mold wheels that mimic the 5-spoke design found on the ZR-1. Wearing slightly oversized 255/45/17 front and 285/40/17 rear Goodyear Eagle F1s, this car handles better than almost any other factory-issued C4.
If you’re going to option an extroverted car, you may as well go all out. Sadly, of the 190 Grand Sport Convertibles built, only 53 came with this bright leather interior. And yes, it’s flashy as heck; but there’s really nothing subtle about this Corvette. Wonderfully preserved and showing no signs of sun damage or anything beyond age-appropriate wear, the supple cockpit is fully functional. The mixture of digital and analog gauges were a Corvette trademark for many years, and while many critics lampooned that combo when it was new, it still looks good today and hasn’t aged as severely as they may have expected. The F45 ride control switch between the seats manages the car’s race-bred suspension, while the vast panel of buttons for the climate control and entertainment system fits ahead of the console. Bright red and black door panels wrap into the dash, which remains almost perfectly preserved, and the Grand Sport embroidery on the seat headrests is still crisp and clear. The final piece of the Grand Sport equation is a bright white convertible top that stows quickly and easily beneath a hard deck, leaving no trace of fabric or unsightly roof hardware to be seen.
Documentation for Grand Sport number 709 is extensive. We have the car’s original broadcast sheets, which spell out GM’s unique Grand Sport recipe in full detail. There’s a window sticker showing a rather shocking $53,624 sale price. There’s a full array of original manuals and supplements that were delivered new with the car. And last but not least, we have a fact sheet that breaks down GM’s factory production numbers:
This drop-top is:
* 1 of 190 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles
* 1 of 53 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles equipped with a red leather interior
* 1 of 51 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles equipped with a red leather interior and GM’s U1F Delco/Bose music system
* 1 of 42 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles equipped with a red leather interior and GM’s F45 adjustable suspension
* 1 of 41 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles equipped with a red leather interior and GM’s UJ6 low tire pressure warning system
* 1 of 36 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertibles equipped with a red leather interior and run flat tires
The Corvette Grand Sport is as close as we can possibly imagine to a sure thing in today''s collector car world. For a late model Corvette to approach that status, it needs more than just the name “Collector’s Edition” stuck on it (note how poorly that worked in ’78), and in 1996, more than 25% of all Corvettes were Collector’s Editions. However, the Grand Sports were very special indeed. In addition to their unique equipment and paint job, they also received sequential serial numbers, a policy which had been outlawed by GM following the ZR-1. Yet powertrain engineer John Heinricy, the godfather of the Grand Sport, managed to force it through the system and create these unique cars, and he personally took possession of Grand Sport 0001, the first one off the line. The rule of thumb in car collecting is that if it’s special when it’s new, it will be special in the future; and this Grand Sport certainly qualifies. Pick this one up today, because in five years, this price is going to seem like a bargain!