Ownership Verified: Miami Weiß - My 1989 Chevrolet Corvette C4

Mitchi

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A little over a month ago I found an advert for a car on eBay Kleinanzeigen by pure coincidence. I found it while leisurely browsing through the site, randomly searching for C4 Corvettes - again, something I've been doing for the last three years, mostly during my mobile.de adventures. But I never really considered actually buying one.

They always seemed a bit out of reach; mostly because I don't see the point in dropping C5 money on a somewhat mediocre C4, no matter how much I love these, and I'm still a young lad without any money. But this one ad that I just clicked on was a little different. It had perfect spelling and showed no errors. And, after Dr. Grip luckily kindly persuaded me to get my arse up, writing and talking to the guy showed me that he's a trustworthy person. Rare on the used car market, possibly even rarer with questionable cars like this.



It was an advert for an arctic white 1989 Corvette C4 with grey leather interior - reading this something instantly popped up in my nerdy brain that this is the last year of the C4 with the digital dashboard, something I would have to buy as an original 80s item at least once in my life. It's also the very first year where the overly complicated but loveable Doug Nash 4+3 has been replaced by a super simple and sturdy 6 speed box by ZF. And to be even further nerdy, it's also the second-to-last year of the prefacelifted exterior.



While I really dig the facelifted C4, I personally like the prefacelifted body a little more (I think the prefacelift fits the 80s perfectly, but so does the facelift for the 90s). Considering the digi dash was dropped for the facelift, me disliking the 4+3 transmission and not wanting an automatic (as well as it might suit the car), there was only one model year that I had to get for pure self-satisfaction. Buying any other and probably in a questionable state aswell as with modifications would just be unreasonable. I mean, the car itself is already unreasonable enough!



Speaking of the condition - this car is completely original. This is quite rare with C4's, as the price dropped so quickly with these they got modded in questionable fashion really fast.



I am the third owner of the car - though it has to be said, the previous owner didn't keep it for long. He bought it some time in 2019 in Costa Mesa, California (south of LA), it arriving in Bremerhaven at the end of may judging by the paperwork I got. But due to two kids and a wife who wasn't quite so happy with his purchase he needed to sell it after fully registering it and managing to get historical number plates in january of this year. Considering he actually bought small parts for this car, I think he didn't just want to flip this car, though considering european vs us-american C4 prices he probably still earned some money off me, but who cares. My guess is that he ran the car on red plates for the rest of 2019 before properly importing and registering it at the beginning of this year, talking his wife into the fact that this way the car could be flipped for more on the german market.



This car was originally sold at a GM dealership called Chapman in Tempe, Arizona and delivered to a californian bloke on the 31st of august 1989 who kept it until 2019! This car has also shown to me that the internet can be a very powerful tool: I tried to find out who the owner was as I had his full name and current address from the insurance card and owners manual, as I was wondering who the kind of person is to buy a C4 new and keep it for three decades. Turns out I found a couple of other residences, including the one where the car was last registered, his birthday, aswell that he owns a small yacht since at least the 80s and even his phone number. Maybe one day I'll drop him a letter with a picture of the car, telling him all is well. My guess: This was the car he used to go to and from the yacht. In a white C4 from 1989. What a bloke he must be! But I still haven't found any traces of cocaine in it - yet. He's now in retirement age, making me think the heavy clutch of the ZF6 might be too much for him nowadays.



The car has got a somewhat clean carfax, only stating one hit at the front from a couple of years ago. The paint at the left side of the nose is actually peeling off a little, nothing that can't be fixed, and I guess the hit was slower than 5 mph. Thank you, impact bumper laws!



There are some other smaller visual things I wanna fix, a missing screw here and there, and polishing it from the inside and out. But I consider this a long term project that is in no hurry at all. The car is also deemed road worthy by the TÜV until january of 2022, plenty of time to be had to make it even better.



I like the clean-sheet design of the C4 and I think in profile view it really shows. This is how a modern Corvette looks until today - well, not anymore since the release of the C8, but that statement is still valid for any modern Corvette from 1984 to 2019.



It still hasn't quite hit me that I got to a point of buying an actual dream car. It's no 350.000$ Aventador, it's no Pagani for over a million, but that doesn't matter. It's something where I thought I'd potentially never own one, and if so, it's got to be at least another decade away. But here it is. During the current home office situation I've found myself getting up in quieter times and looking out of the window, trying to spot a white C4 parked in front of the house, and there it is. An unreal experience that so far hasn't settled in.



I'm not really the kind of person to get any hapiness from boasting in front of other people, but being able to say that I own a Corvette makes me feel kind of weird. I think this is the fizz in the crotch that James May was talking about. Yeah, this is definitely a dream coming true. No matter how often Matt Farah will rephrase his thoughts about the C4 being the crappiest Corvette of them all, especially with that unloved Tuned Port Injection. I am still trying to figure out why some people think it's bad.



I haven't it driven a lot so far - mostly because I lost about a month trying to get the car registered via service in our current and unfamiliar who managed to lose the papers not once but twice (!) and, now after it's all over, costing me three times the usual going rate for putting your name into the paperwork of a car (trust me when I say the story is a lot longer than this and this is the shortest tl;dr I can deliver). But in the few drives I've had so far that these emotions of realising petrolhead dreams is just so worth it. It's not about the money or about Instagram, it's about how it makes you feel, and this does it perfectly fine for me.



Talking about how it makes me feel, here it is, the digital dashboard. While I need to change out two bulbs on the right side that are getting dimm, I am beginning to understand this movement must have felt quite the step upwards after analogue gauges. But by the end of the 80s it was clear for most car manufacturers that an all-out digital dashboard can work, but isn't actually that helpful as it might have seemed at first, with GM dropping the digital dashboard for the facelifted C4 and only keeping a digital readout of the speed. I do have to admit, too, that I only look at the numbers and not the bars - it is a gimmick, but a damn cool one at that. And that little metallic C4 is another gimmick originating from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where this car left the factory some nearly thirty-one years ago.



I was told the car had always been garaged in its life - which seems to be correct with the addresses I know and what Google Maps shows me. This also results in the interior still being in a really good condition overall and having no cracks in the dashboard whatsoever. Some blemishes here and there, but all fixeable. But don't get fooled: The seats have been redone within the last ten years, because the leather probably got old at around 130.000 miles or 209.000 kilometers. I'm more than fine with that and actually prefer this over having the original leather. Oh and the cup holders... they are literally useless. I mean, they are good for holding your phone in place, but other than that, you can't actually fit into it.



Speaking of miles, do I care that this is not a 40.000 mile example? No. It has been driven, and probably all-year round at that. Driving cars is good. It's what they are made for, believe it or not. And if you calculate how much this car has done within a year over the last thirty, it's actually not a lot at all.



I will look into properly maintaining and hopefully mostly servicing the car on my own step by step. It seems to be easy enough to do it with the help of others. Thanks to Beni, nicjasno and Dr. Grip who have already offered me their services. But don't buy a Haynes manual for these, it's rubbish.



One thing that really bugs me though are the tyres. If I am not mistaken, there are three different tyres on the car with three different manufacturing dates, the oldest one dating to sometime in 2005. Yeah, this needs to be changed really, really soon - but sadly original tyre size options are getting rare now and putting different sizes on the car (potentially smaller, reducing tramlining a little) might conflict with the historical numberplate.

Have two shots of the alll-original engine bay - including the emissions stuff that's still in there:





What are my plans with the car?
Fix it up.
Maintain it.
Enjoy it.

And maybe buy that little front lip that my car seems to be missing!

I'm not really keen into modding it, as it would have to be period-correct ... but I could see myself getting a different steering wheel or shift knob, as those are only in a somewhat mediocre condition. Anyway, that can wait. I would like to use this car as a chance to realise another dream, namingly getting perfectly sized and original BBS RS's for the Corvette. Well, if I can find them, that is.

Anyway, that's enough from me so far. I have probably forgotten quite a lot as usual, but will add it later on in another post. I will also do a verification photo, don't worry. But who else would buy cheap and crappy 80s plastics from GM other than me?

Until then, have a weird shot from the front of this barbie-cocaine-mobile.

HERP-A-DERP, I'M A CORVETTE

 
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leviathan

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This is f***ing awesome and I love it. Always had a soft spot for the C4 for some reason, and in white it just looks great. Looking forward to seeing it at the Ringmeet!

I notice the distinct lack of a front plate on the pictures. Is it hidden behind the "Corvette" panel on the front and flips/opens up when driving (and if so, how legal is that?), or can you run a H-plate car with a rear plate only? Never seen that before I think, so it's a bit weird to me.
 

Labcoatguy

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That is super awesome! I also prefer the more flamboyant rear treatment of the pre-facelift C4.
 

public

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This is fantastic and super vaporwave/new retrowave!
 

CraigB

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C4 is the right Corvette. Congratulations! Looks awesome in white!

What sizes are the tires that are giving you trouble?
 

Tram13

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Well, first of all, congratulations on finally owning your dream car!

The car is the bomb. The only thing that it'd need to be absolutely effin' perfect would be a burgundy interior, but I am aware that swapping one in would not only be financially exhausting, but it'd also ruin the originality of the car.

I love how either the previous owner or you fitted the licence plate over the original Californian one. Makes the fact that US-size German plates are slightly smaller than actual US plates tolerable.

May it serve you well, enjoy it, and keep it!

BTW, for quite a while I've been wondering what are those white side lights on C4 'Vettes. What do they do?
 

DanRoM

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HO. LY. SHIT. :woot:

This is awesome². I can't wait to see it at Ringmeet.

Always had a soft spot for the C4 for some reason
Me too, but the reason is obvious:


@Mitchi, only because yours has an interiour in a wrong colour, you get away with not treating the car to a red stripe. :D

Also, we need some numbers! Power? Torque? Top speed (in kph and "how much over the speedo maximum" :p)? ;)
 
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Dr_Grip

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I notice the distinct lack of a front plate on the pictures. Is it hidden behind the "Corvette" panel on the front and flips/opens up when driving (and if so, how legal is that?), or can you run a H-plate car with a rear plate only? Never seen that before I think, so it's a bit weird to me.
Someone informed @Mitchi that "Vorderes Kennzeichen entspricht nicht den Vorschriften" is only a 10€ fine...
 

Redliner

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YOU MADMAN YOU DID IT


I am so happy for you, really.
Can't wait to hear how bad it is doing at lapping the Norsdchleife.:ROFLMAO:
 

Dr_Grip

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That'll work only once at most if the police are remotely competent and serious.
Cops got a choice whether it's this or 60€ for "driving with missing plate" - it'll be down on how much they like the car and the @Mitchi ...
 

Mitchi

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Thanks to you all!

I notice the distinct lack of a front plate on the pictures. Is it hidden behind the "Corvette" panel on the front and flips/opens up when driving (and if so, how legal is that?), or can you run a H-plate car with a rear plate only? Never seen that before I think, so it's a bit weird to me.
Cops got a choice whether it's this or 60€ for "driving with missing plate" - it'll be down on how much they like the car and the @Mitchi ...
What @Dr_Grip wrote - so far I'll run the car without plates at the front, stick it up my windshield (though the angle is super steep) and hope not to get stopped. Though I think by Ringmeet I will probably fix the plate, as driving around with no plate at the front is okay here, but not at the Ring... My excuse until then: I ordered a proper number plate holder and it hasn't arrived yet. Not even that unrealistic, huh? But I think the reality of the police actually stopping me when they see it is quite slim, as it's an old US car - it's sort of fine. And even if they do, I'm not a 65 year old guy pretending to be an american in Germany, I'm just some young Lappen with a plastic car. :)

The previous owner ran the same size at the front that I have at the back right now (Leichtkraftradkennzeichen, 255x140mm), but sadly that appears to be illegal, so I got some form of a Kuchenblech up front:



What sizes are the tires that are giving you trouble?
The car still sits on the original size, which is 275/40/17. There are three tyre options for that size available here: Nankang Ultra Sport NS-2, Nexen N Fera SU1, and the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 - the latter one now being discontinued and the only reason it was or is still on the market is the fact that it's the front tyre for the original Viper. So yeah, basically I got the choice of a Nexen or Nankang here now. Really quite annoying. I could downsize to 255 or 265 technically and get slightly better options, but not every TÜV guy will write that tyre size into the papers with the car now being on historical number plates. I'll see how this develops.
There are many more tyre options available on the US market, this is quite annoying. :D

The car is the bomb. The only thing that it'd need to be absolutely effin' perfect would be a burgundy interior, but I am aware that swapping one in would not only be financially exhausting, but it'd also ruin the originality of the car.

BTW, for quite a while I've been wondering what are those white side lights on C4 'Vettes. What do they do?
These lights are the side markers - currently disabled as there are no bulbs in them. The TÜV requires them to be disabled, though just screwing the bulb out works just as fine. I might screw them back in, as I got them from the previous owner. The orange part at the front is also part of the indicator and the right part at the rear is just reflector.

Swapping a red interior was the first mod @Dr_Grip suggested. :D

Also, we need some numbers! Power? Torque? Top speed (in kph and "how much over the speedo maximum" :p)? ;)
Power should be 247 PS, torque some 467 Nm, top speed is (I think) 157 mph or 252 kph. Haven't really tested it so far, I was only on the Autobahn with it once when I picked it up. I feel like the tyres are quite a bit too old for that, I really need to get new ones. :)
The speedo only goes up to like 85 mph or 135 kph, because of course you don't speed if your speedo doesn't go higher. But that only counts for the bars, the lower number still rises and can go up to 299 iirc (same with 99 for the revs, but I surely don't want to try that one out).

Anyway, that's enough from me so far. I have probably forgotten quite a lot as usual, but will add it later on in another post.
Well yeah, of course I forgot something. Firstly, one thing that I would like to have are the sport seats. My car came with the standard seats, but as these are already tight enough with my moderate height and size... do I really need the sport seats? Probably not. They might sit a little lower though. With my 1.75 meters of height (or five foot seven and a half, as Richard Hammond said it) I can actually hit the roof with the seat being in the lowest position.

Secondly, have a photo of the original window sticker - yep, got that one, too, and am kind of proud of it.
Did I mention the car comes with three-way electronic adjustable suspension? It actually still works and rather well at that. Though I am kind of scared of it breaking and being stuck in one position - not sure if people nowadays still fix it or just throw it out. :D

 
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ScarFace88

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I wholeheartedly approve of this purchase!
Swapping a red interior was the first mod @Dr_Grip suggested. :D


Well yeah, of course I forgot something. Firstly, one thing that I would like to have are the sport seats. My car came with the standard seats, but as these are already tight enough with my moderate height and seize... do I really need the sport seats? Probably not. They might sit a little lower though. With my 1.75 meters of height (or five foot seven and a half, as Richard Hammond said it) I can actually hit the roof with the seat being in the lowest position.
If you really want to keep the Miami theme you could get a white interior out of a 35th Anniversary car. You can get most interior parts as reproduction pieces from Ecklers as C4 interiors age in dog years.

If you're running out of headroom, look at getting a glass top, they're supposed to give you an extra couple of inches of room. I looked at buying one of these, and that was recommended to me, but it wasn't enough (I'm 6'2.5 with a 30" inseam, I have a talent for not fitting in cars, ask @Spectre or @Misrabelle.)
 

Mitchi

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If you're running out of headroom, look at getting a glass top, they're supposed to give you an extra couple of inches of room.
One of the things I definitely want to buy! It seems to be hard to find original ones for sale though. Though aftermarket ones might be as good or even better, tough to say.
 

MacGuffin

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Awesome car, can't wait to see if I fit in at the Ringmeet ;-)

And yes, welcome to the V8 club :) I really hope this is gonna last (y)
 

CraigB

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The car still sits on the original size, which is 275/40/17. There are three tyre options for that size available here: Nankang Ultra Sport NS-2, Nexen N Fera SU1, and the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 - the latter one now being discontinued and the only reason it was or is still on the market is the fact that it's the front tyre for the original Viper. So yeah, basically I got the choice of a Nexen or Nankang here now. Really quite annoying. I could downsize to 255 or 265 technically and get slightly better options, but not every TÜV guy will write that tyre size into the papers with the car now being on historical number plates. I'll see how this develops.
There are many more tyre options available on the US market, this is quite annoying. :D
I'm assuming getting them from the US is not an option because not Euro approved? (Something I remember from readying Lucille for export.)

I've had both Nexen and Nankang tires, They weren't my first choice, but I didn't have any trouble with them.
 
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