The newest C4 Corvette (1984-1996) is now a quarter-century old and Chevrolet has learned a lot since the last C4 Corvette rolled off the assembly line. Back when the C4 Corvette was first introduced in the early 80s, its super technological suspension took the world by storm. So much so Goodyear was pushed to create a tire capable of handling its 1g lateral acceleration.
Prior to the C4’s space-age suspension, Corvette had only one other suspension upgrade during its prior three decades of production, and that lasted for almost twenty years! Prior to that, Corvette’s suspension was based on the 1939 Chevrolet passenger car’s underpinnings!
While the C4 Corvette still utilized a transverse spring (now on the front as well as the rear) like its predecessor generation, geometry really became the focus for Chevrolet’s engineers. It’s spindly (but lightweight) aluminum upper and lower control arms, coupled with dual trailing rods on each side supplied the necessary anti-dive and anti-squat geometry. Even during the C4 Corvette’s 11-year production run, changes were made to the suspension’s geometry to help improve upon the design.
In 1988, GM moved from its philosophy of stiff springs and shocks to engineering better geometry and bigger sway bars to provide better handling and ride characteristics. 1988 stands as the differentiating year between the early and late designs of C4 suspensions. Many components will not interchange between the two, so make sure those parts on Marketplace or a blue tarp are the right parts for your year/application. The Corvette Action Center has a comprehensive list of suspension changes and RPO codes to help you decipher your C4’s suspension.
That said, your C4’s suspension can still benefit from modern innovations since the last one rolled down the Bowling Green Assembly line. RideTech is firmly planted in improving Corvette suspensions and they offer products for the full range of the C4 era. Rather than the one-size-fits-all design from GM, RideTech offers its HQ Series Shock set which gives you 24 positions of rebound adjustment and a 1,000,001-mile warranty.
For the later C4s, RideTech has embraced beefing up the suspension components with its Strongarm Control arms for the 1988 Corvettes and includes complete coil-over packages, as well as individual components for the 1989-1996 Corvettes. The addition of coil-over shocks allows easy adjustments to ride height, as well as tweaking the later ‘Vette’s suspension geometry specifically to your driving style. The fact a complete Coilover or StreetGrip package including shocks, control arms and/or bushings, and RideTech’s front and rear Musclebar sway bars will rebuild your late-C4’s suspension to better than stock is just icing on the cake!
How much of a difference do RideTech’s C4 suspension upgrades make? Just ask some of the C4 Corvette’s best competitors. Scott Fraser and his 1989 Corvette were able to win the Street Machine class with a 40.958-seconds run in the autocross event during the Goodguys 34th West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton, California. At the time, his run was the second-fastest of the weekend, just showing how capable and relevant the C4 Corvette’s suspension still can be with the right upgrades and adjustments. Scott’s C4 runs RideTech bits with the TQ-Series coilovers.
We ran a story on Harold Chapman’s 1987 B2K Callaway C4, equipped with a Chevrolet Performance LS9 engine a few months ago which highlighted how capable the car is both on the track as well as the street. A testament to the RideTech adjustability built into the components which make the C4 a force to be reckoned with in the competition.
The Corvette market has moved on and these early, technology-filled Corvettes can be had for a fraction of their MSRP. While their suspensions were forward-thinking enough to keep them relevant today, with the right additions of more modern technology, they can easily be upgraded to match many newer and more expensive designs. Since so many C4 Corvette suspensions are begging today for renewed life through new shocks, bushings, and other components, it makes sense to check out RideTech’s offerings to make your Corvette’s suspension better than it has ever been!