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.


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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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