Blast From the Past: 1996 Corvette LT4
“Turn right here,” he instructed. I did just that and before me lay a runway a million miles long with nobody else in sight, just begging to be ripped apart by the land rocket I was steering, all of its ferocity and godlessness contained not by a ball and chain but my hesitation to pin the accelerator to the floor. Alright, maybe it was a two lane road and not a runway, but the part about nobody being around was true, there were no cross streets, I was in a Corvette, and seated next to me was a retired police officer. It was the first time I hit triple digit speeds.
The Corvette was a 1996 C4 with the LT4 engine, the only year this engine was available on Corvettes, and made it a perfect sendoff for the C4, which would be replaced by the C5 the following year. The engine produced 330hp, an increase of 10% over the standard C4, and the car came with a cool plaque that commemorated the limited edition ‘Vette and listed its production number out of 6,359. A 6-speed manual was the only transmission offered, good news for us because the auto on lesser Corvettes was a 4-speed, which was becoming antiquated in everything but economy cars.
At the time, I was driving a 1994 Corolla with the POS package, so being the commander of a vessel with a history like Corvette was truly awe-inspiring (my preference for cars with a solid lineage would be manifested by the Corolla’s successor, a second-gen SN-95 Mustang GT and my current car, a VW GTI MkVI). It was about as night and day from my daily driver as I could get, and I couldn’t have loved it more.
The road couldn’t have been longer than a mile and the entire experience probably only lasted about 30 seconds. It did, however, make such an impression that six years later, I can remember everything from burying the front end in a hedge while parking (the hood was a bit longer than I was used to) to speeding down a deserted road in Palm Springs. I ate a Monte Cristo for lunch for the first time, as well. It was a good day.