1996 Chevrolet Corvette Collectors Edition Collectors Edition
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The trouble with spending half of your retirement fund on an investment grade Corvette is the amount of poorly restored ‘projects’ that are readily available for next to nothing. With every NCRS-grade car that shows up to a Chevy show there are 15 more hacked together, low budget builds that keep both prices and exclusivity in the lower end of the market. So, if you don’t want a pile of parts held together with a hassle, you have two choices. The first, of course, is to cash in your blue chip stocks and buy a high dollar restoration from a reputable Corvette shop. The second is to find a cool old survivor like this 1996 Collector Edition convertible. Fully documented and ready to roll, this rare C4 is an all-original time capsule that mixes a roster of desirable options with only 92 miles of carefully chosen road time.
One of only 1,381 Collector Edition convertibles ever assembled, this showroom-fresh Vette began life at Gunderson Chevrolet in El Monte, California. Here’s a detailed look at the car’s original window sticker:
* 6-speed manual transmission
* Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR)
* 5-link rear suspension that’s complete with a fiberglass, transversely mounted spring
* Independent front suspension
* Power rack and pinion steering
* 4-wheel power disc brakes
* Driver and passenger airbags
* 4-wheel anti-lock brakes
* Brake transmission shift interlock
* Passive keyless entry system
* Pass Key II anti-theft system
* Electric, heated rearview mirrors
* Full, folding roof
* Glass rear window that’s complete with a defogger
* Halogen fog lamps
* Power-operated, retractable halogen headlamps
* AM/FM stereo that’s complete with a clock, cassette player and power antenna
* Air conditioning
* A combination of analog and digital instrumentation
* Electronic speed control that’s complete with a resume feature
* Intermittent wiper system
* Leather seats that include lateral support and adjustable backs
* Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel
* Power door locks
* Power windows that feature a driver’s express down function
* Collector Edition Package ($1,250)
* -- Sebring Silver paint
* -- 17-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels that are finished in silver
* -- Chrome emblems
* -- Perforated sport seats that are complete with Collector Edition embroidery
* Corvette Convertible Preferred Equipment Group 1 ($1,333)
* -- Electronic air conditioning
* -- Delco Bose AM/FM stereo that features seek/scan, a cassette player and an electronic clock
* -- 6-way power driver’s seat
* 5.7 liter V8 that utilizes Sequential Fuel Injection to create 330 horsepower ($1,450)
* Selective, real-time damping ($1,695)
* Removable hardtop ($1,995)
* Delco Bose AM/FM stereo that features seek/scan, a cassette player, a CD player, an electronic clock and Delco Loc II technology
* Low tire pressure warning ($325)
* Extended Mobility Tires ($70)
* Museum delivery ($490)
* 50-state emissions ($00)
* 255/45ZR17 black sidewall tires ($00)
* 285/40ZR17 black sidewall tires ($00)
* Black convertible top ($00)
STANDARD VEHICLE PRICE: $45,060
TOTAL OPTIONS: $9,004
DESTINATION CHARGE: $565
TOTAL VEHICLE PRICE: $54,629
With today’s history lesson in the books, I’ll jump right in to describing this squeaky clean drop-top. The car’s glossy Sebring Silver paint, which is sealed in a durable clearcoat shell, perfectly accentuates its lightweight body. That body’s composite panels display precise gaps and excellent fit under ancillary hardware that functions well and seals great. And, by the looks of this Corvette’s slick finish, I’m fairly certain it has never seen daily driver duty. In fact, it’s very unlikely the car’s mirrored hue has ever felt anything more aggressive than a soft detailing cloth. And when that level of ownership is combined with Chevrolet’s top notch build quality, it creates one seriously capable sports car that’ll show well and absolutely blister the road!
Walking around this roadster, it’s easy to appreciate how gently late-model C4s have aged. Nearly two decades after they debuted, the car’s sharp lines still represent the Corvette brand incredibly well. At the front the car’s subdued body, a clean combination of halogen running lamps and amber turn signals frame a chip-free Corvette tag panel. Above that panel, a long hood, which mimics the cowl induction units found on classic Chevrolets, features a chrome Corvette emblem that’s complete with a pristine mix of silver checkers, black checkers and classy “COLLECTOR EDITION” lettering. At the sides of that emblem, the car’s profile carries the same coke bottle shape of older Corvettes, except whittled down by years of gained aerodynamic knowledge. Embedded in that knowledge, a ring of body-color trim perfectly complements clear cornering lamps, traditional Corvette gills, bright Collector Edition emblems and Satin Black door handles. Above those handles, a black roof folds beneath an optional, Sebring Silver hardtop. And at the back of that roof, trademark tail lights frame a broad “CORVETTE” script, vertical reverse lamps and original, square exhaust tips.
As previously mentioned, power comes from the best iteration of Chevrolet’s second generation small block. Dubbed the LT4, and boasting 330 horsepower and 340 lb./ft. of torque, this stout engine is one of the most potent pushrod V8s to date. The mean mill is dressed in fine fashion, displaying a bright red intake manifold and “GRAND SPORT” branded throttle body. The car’s engine compartment is in excellent condition, mixing few signs of use with a 100% factory-correct appearance. Like every other Collector Edition, the car is was loaded with options, including AC, power steering, and a traction control system that GM calls Automatic Slip Regulation (ASR). Those very clean ancillary components still carry all their original belts, hoses and decals. And, since this Corvette has rolled less than 100 miles, all it needs is preservation and care to continue to be perfect in virtually in every way.
Behind that hot small block, a proven 6-speed distributes power to a factory Corvette rear end. Although equipped with the dreaded “skip-shift” feature, which is easily defeated by giving the throttle an extra squeeze before making the 1-2 upshift, the car’s slick ZF gearbox is one of the most durable units ever produced. Standard power steering and 4-wheel power disc brakes keep all the energy productive and pointed straight. Factory dual exhaust runs from original equipment manifolds into rear-mounted mufflers, which hang just before GM’s familiar exhaust tips. And torque meets the pavement through killer 17-inch alloys, which spin wide 255/45 Goodyear Eagle GS-Cs in front of even wider 285/40 Goodyear Eagle GS-Cs. Aesthetically, the bottom of this Corvette is every bit as nice as its spectacular engine compartment and glossy exterior panels, showing minimal wear and almost no signs of weathering. The car’s bright suspension bits contrast nicely to a clean floorpan. And its straight and solid chassis appears to have seen virtually no time outdoors.
Good preservation is key to any vintage car’s interior, and this C4’s clean cockpit looks factory fresh in almost every way. The plush driving environment kicks off with a pair of comfy leather buckets that are stitched around colorful Collector Edition logos. In front of those buckets, a leather-wrapped and cross-flag branded steering wheel laps a conservative dash that’s fitted with both clear analog and bright digital gauges. Inside that dash, the car’s modern center stack anchors electronic climate control above a premium Delco Bose sound system, a simple black shifter and buttons for the adjustable suspension. Opposite that center stack, monotone side panels hang switches for both power windows and power door locks above sculpted armrests. At the back of those panels, a surprisingly spacious cargo hold features enough room for short, weekend road trips. And naturally, all the amenities and conveniences you’ve come to expect in a modern ride are present and accounted for.
The sale of this pristine Collector Edition includes an original build sheet, an original window sticker, an original owner’s manual, an original VHS tape, and a breakdown of the car’s VIN and major options.
If you’re searching for a fun summertime cruiser that can be driven without worry, you won’t find a better deal than this awesome Corvette. It’s a fantastic looking car that mixes a ton of eyeball appeal with plenty of open road enjoyment. Better still, with all original paint, an original drivetrain and a roster of desirable options it’ll age like fine wine, becoming rarer and more valuable by the year!