1996 Chevrolet Corvette: History, Specs, and Performance

1996 Chevrolet Corvette might have been the last model year for the C4 generation but it made sure this style of Vettes went out with a bang. 1996 was also the year we got to see two very special Corvettes: the Grand Sports Coupe and the Collector’s Edition. In this article, we’ll talk about all 1996 models and discuss the improvements made from the older ones.

History of the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette

Black 1996 Chevrolet Corvette

The name “Grand Sport” has a special meaning that many Corvette lovers understand. In 1963, five lightweight Grand Sports racers were built using the Stingray base. These racers were impressive but were never produced again. As part of the send-off for the C4 generation of Vettes, GM and Chevrolet decided to reintroduce the “Grand Sport” badge to a new generation of Corvette aficionados.

The 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport was also limited to only 1,000 units being manufactured (810 Coupes and 190 convertibles) and had exterior features that pointed to its lineage. The Admiral Blue paint highlighted by an Arctic White stripe and red hash marks on the fender refer back to the paint scheme used on the legendary 1963 Grand Sports.

Improvements

One element found in the 1996 Grand Sport that wasn’t found on the 1963 models is the engine. For the grand finale of the C4 generation, the manufacturer’s placed the most powerful small-block to ever be fitted to a Corvette, the all-new LT4. The LT4 generated 330 HP and was mated to a 6-speed manual tranny. Pair this with the independent four-wheel suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, Acceleration Slip Regulation, and beefy 17-inch Goodyear GS-C tires, you have yourself a modern day legend in the making.

Also, let’s not forget the other special model released to commemorate the end of the C4 generation, the Collector Edition. Covered in Sebring Silver, Corvette fans are instantly reminded of the classic 1959 racer and the split-window coupes of 1963. Drivers know they are getting into something special when they see this car. Even the embroidered “Collector Edition” seats make you feel like you are driving history.

The Z51 Handling Package was also reintroduced in the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette. As before, this package came with special bushings, stabilizers, front and rear springs, and Bilstein shocks. Also as before, there was plenty of criticism surrounding this option as many drivers felt the ride was too harsh. Regardless, decision makers decided to bring it back since it was the ideal package for those competing in racing events.

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Model Options

1996 Corvette black red interior

For the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette, buyers had the usual coupe and convertible options, as well as the two special additions, the Grand Sport and the Collector Edition.

Exterior Color Options

For the outside, buyers had a large selection of paint colors to choose from:

  • Dark Purple Metallic;
  • Competition Yellow;
  • Black;
  • Torch Red;
  • Arctic White;
  • Polo Green Metallic;
  • Bright Aqua Metallic;
  • Sebring Silver Metallic (Limited to the Collector Edition);
  • Admiral Blue (Limited to the Grand Sport).

Interior Color Options

On the inside, consumers had fewer colors they could choose from for their Vettes and those that wanted a Grand Sport had even fewer:

  • Black;
  • Light Beige;
  • Red;
  • Light Gray;
  • Light Gray Collector’s Edition;
  • Black Collector’s Edition;
  • Red Collector’s Edition;
  • Black Grand Sport;
  • Red/Black Grand Sport.

Coupe

The 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe came powered by the standard LT1, 5.7L V-8 that generated 300 HP and 335 lb-ft of torque. The only tranny that came with the base coupe was a 4-speed automatic; it had received some revisions that made for better shifting as well as a new torque converters for improved durability.

Replacing the Selective Ride suspension is the Selective Real Time Damping option. Sensors located at each wheel sends information to the Vette’s computer which would then send information to the shocks, allowing for an optimal ride.

The interior of the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette has the usual form-fitting bucket seats and leather trimming that we have come to expect in the Vette. Power windows and door locks, electronic speed control, and a sound system that includes a cassette player with AM/FM stereo were standard features. For a little extra, consumers could upgrade to the Delco/Bose Gold Series sound system that had either the cassette player or CD and cassette players.

Convertible

Grey 1996 Chevrolet Corvette

As always, convertible models came with most of the same features that are also found on the coupe models. The top was easy to operate. It had the option of black or beige Cambria cloth or a white vinyl top. There was also an optional hardtop available. It had a glass rear window that also had an electric defogger and there was ample storage located behind the back seats.

Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible

Both the convertible and coupe models wearing the Grand Sport nameplate were powered by the new LT4 V8. Combined with Acceleration Slip Regulation, F45 suspension, and Selective Real Time Damping, the Grand Sport models were performance ready.

On the inside, drivers were welcomed with perforated 6-way power seats that also featured lumbar support. Interior colors were limited to black or red/black and “Grand Sport” was embroidered on the seats. Everything from the instrument cluster to the steering wheel and shifter was exactly where it should be to allow for the optimal driving control and experience.

Collector Edition

The Collector’s Edition was available in both coupe and convertible models. Specialized chrome badges were located on the body and sports seats were embroidered with “Collector Edition”. Interior colors available were Torch Red, Black or Gray.

This special edition Corvette was powered with the same LT4 as the Grand Sport. Also found on this model was the 5-link independent rear suspension that has become synonymous with Corvettes and was also equipped with ABS four-wheel disc brakes, and Acceleration Slip Regulation.

Resources for the 1996 Corvette

1996 Corvette Convertible

Here are some great resources for those looking to find out more about the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette or looking for resources to restore and care for their beloved Vette.

  • Grandsportregistry.comThis site is filled with information and resources that deal specifically with the Grand Sport.
  • Corvettecentral.com. If you are looking for a hard-to-find part or component for your Grand Sport, there is a good chance you will also find it on this site.
  • Corvetteamerica.comAnother great site for original parts for your Grand Sport or any other model of Corvette for that matter.

Other Fun Stuff

Just as with all other popular performance cars, the list of custom accessories and parts available for the 1996 Chevrolet Corvette is endless. Make a statement with your custom Vette or simply restore it to its former glory. And if you are curious about what your Grand Sport had as original equipment, check the VIN. The 1996 Grand Sport was the only Corvette to have its own unique VIN, other than the 1995 ZR-1. For instance, the website Grandsportregistry.com has a complete listing of all 1,000 Grand Sports that show these details.

Summing Up

In conclusion, the final year for the C4 generation of Corvettes could easily be considered the most memorable out of its 12-year span. Along with the regular coupe and convertible models, Corvette enthusiasts consider the Grand Sport and Collector Editions as must-haves. Chevrolet and GM really know how to send a car out in style.

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