We recently located a complete, rolling chassis advertised on social media. The C4 chassis is an interesting looking piece of machinery, with its backbone wrapping around the driveshaft and holding the chassis together between the differential and transmission. Many C4 enthusiasts have seen a C4’s chassis sans body already, but this one is definitely different.
This one is peculiar for several reasons. First, it had a Cross-Fire engine up front, just a one-year option for an engine in a C4. It’s something that you don’t usually see, even though there were a bunch of Cross-Fire-equipped Corvettes built, due to the extended model-year production when GM decided to certify the ’83-built Corvettes as ’84 cars.
The thing about this particular chassis was that it was never used under a Corvette. In fact, it was used by GM as one of the displays to show off the new, space-aged chassis of the C4 Corvette when the car was first introduced. An interesting artifact for sure!
As we try to look back through eyes tainted with more modern chassis, much greater horsepower, and even mid-engined, pre-production models, it’s difficult to envision how enamored the automotive world was when it first got a glimpse of this new design. Those light, but fragile-looking upper control arms somehow contained those massive Goodyear tires which were designed specifically for the C4 Corvette. So much so, that the C4 Corvette could carve out an unheard-of 1-g of lateral acceleration!
This particular chassis still has all the goodies, and each one unused, save for all the views they’ve garnered when they were paraded in front of the endearing press. The tires are like new, the exhaust has never been heat-cycled, and those two Cross-Fire throttle bodies have never tasted fuel. The car is a rolling timepiece of how it was done when they began building the C4 generation. To get a better idea of the atmosphere during that time, check out this video of the ’84 Corvette’s reveal at the Luxembourg Goodyear Test Track.
The chassis is currently owned by British Corvette enthusiast, Tom Falconer. After its usefulness to GM, the chassis was acquired by Lawrence Millet, who passed away in 2005. It was stored in the car dealership he co-owned called Bauer Millett. The dealership closed down and a few years later, Tom bought it from Lawrence’s son, Mitch Millett in 2016.
Mr. Falconer is no stranger to Corvettes. He’s owned some quite remarkable prototypes and is also the owner of Claremont Corvette, located just outside of London. As a Master Judge for the UK’s sector of the National Corvette Restorer Society, he’s done some research on the bare, but intriguing chassis.
Tom reports, “We held an NCRSUK Judging School at Claremont Corvette… to study the drivetrain in detail and compare this pre-production display to the NCRS judging manual, he explains. “It is interesting, that the original 1984-only recessed-logo Goodyear tyres are dated 25th and 26th week of 1982, the alternator brace is a no number prototype and the alternator is likely a later substitution. The most interesting discovery was the engine casting date of November 1982. This means that mine is almost certainly not the Riverside Long Lead Drivetrain, because the cylinder block for my chassis was cast while that event was happening. Instead, it must be another drivetrain built later for the European launch. Which is supported by its leaded-fuel exhaust system with no catalytic converter or o2 sensor.”
Tom even helps clear up the mystery of how these chassis were carted all over the globe without the strengthening support of the rest of the body. He explains, “I wondered for years how the impressive drivetrains at GM model launches held together without their unibody to support them. Now I know – four tension cables with turnbuckle adjusters, which were removed when the display was in place on the stand!” It makes sense to us.
General Motors has created many displays to highlight their newest offerings and still use this technique today. Everything from engines, shock absorbers, transmissions, and complete automobiles have been subject to the torch or saw so onlookers could get a better view. Like many of these prized displays, they rotate around the enthusiast world, finding new caretakers who will carry on the task of spreading the gospel that GM started so many reveals ago.
Tom recently reported that he’s planning on offering the chassis for sale through the online auction site Bring A Trailer. He’s hoping that it will wind up in a collection or a museum where others can study and appreciate the chassis for what it is. Seeing how it is basically an unused version of an early C4’s chassis, that in itself makes it quite rare. How valuable? That’s to be determined. But it sure would look great with a thick, glass pane affixed over it to make a really interesting table!