C4 memory #3
|My first drive
in the new Corvette came early in 1984. I was working for *Popular Cars* Magazine and we
had been loaned one to test, a Z51 with the 4+3 "Doug Nash" transmission.
First thing I did was take the car into the mountains for a run over my favorite curvy road. I knew it like the back of my hand because, I used it to test my own Corvette, an early-'70s Coupe with a 454. My car was an interesting comparison for this new one because it had undergone just about every modification you could do to a '68-'82 street suspension back then.
I spent two hours driving real hard. I remember being underwhelmed by the car's power. Though 205hp was substantial for a production car of that time, my modified big-block had much more.
What impressed me was its handling. In fact, the car was so fast through the curves that, after the first ten minutes, I found a turnout, parked, got out and stood back about 20 yards staring at the thing like it had been brought to Earth by aliens from the future ... it was that good!
It had the most aggressive stance I can remember seeing on any street car of the day. From then on, the tires I had on my own 'Vette, a set of 255/60R15 Goodyear NCTs, seemed fit for a Buick or something. Those first '84s were lower than the ones today and the incredibly huge 255/50VR16s made them look even more like road racers. I remember wondering how I could get a set of those 16s on my old car.
At the time, Chevrolet's advertising hook was that , with a change in front wheel width and alignment, the' 84 exceeded 1.0g lateral acceleration. This production unit did only 0.95g, but, still, that was incredible grip, especially for the mid-'80s. I remember marveling at the technology Dave McLellan brought us that allowed me to sail through curves at twice the posted speed limit , yet not be near the car's limits. A sobering fact was that, if I had tried the same in my big-block; I'd have probably died. Right then, I knew that even the best handling '68-'82 on the street would never come close to this bone stocker.
Another thing that amazed me was the new car's steering. With my old Corvette, I gauged steering response with a sundial. The '84 Corvette's far stiffer chassis and power rack-and-pinion steering was a quantum leap in response, effort and feel that defied description.
This was a car that seemed to chomp at the bit for a line of pylons or a set of tight ess-turns. Compared to what I read about Corvettes of late, the '84 Z51 ride would have shook the fillings out of Dave Hill's teeth, but boy, did that sucker handle!
-U.B. Sherman, retired Technical Editor *Corvette Illustrated* Magazine
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