Originally Posted by apollo240
I was wondering, just how much did they really improve the C5 over the C4?
I always get a kick out of people who spend so much time bitching about a thread like this and never really add anything of substance. The way I see it, if you don't want to participate in the discussion, move on to something else. The guy(or gal) has a legitimate question, and if you don't want to answer then there's no real need to bust his (or her) ***** over something so trivial.
Okay, back to the original post ...
I've had several C4s, and I personally love 'em. So take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt.
Performance, ride quality, comfort, squeaks, creaks, leaks, rattles, everything overall?
I drove several C6s and probably twice as many C5s before I pulled the trigger on my current C4. I had sold an '88 a few months before, and wasn't sure if I'd stay with the C4 or move to a C5. I really wanted a C6, more because of all the accessories that are available. But in the end, I spent a lot less money on a really nice C4.
I can say that there is a very clear difference between the ride of the three generations. As for ride quality, the C6 was the best of the group, but there were a couple C6s that were just trash. That was mostly because prior owners had not taken care of them, so you'll have to consider that when you make this type of comparison.
The advances that Chevrolet made between the C4, 5, and 6 generations has a lot to do with the ride quality. Simply put, you can feel the difference but that is not to say the ride quality for a decent C4 is not outstanding. I've also owned a few C3 (no C2 or C1 models) in my life, and there is a big difference between these and the C4, 5 & 6 generations. My two favorite C3s were actually the least favored among the knowledgeable in Corvette land. One was a '68 and the other a '75. The '68 had a 327/350 with 4-speed, and it was a speedy little bugger. But it rattled, squeaked, and had all kinds of little noises associated with it. The '75, on the other hand, was much nicer riding, but it had significantly less power.
When I moved up the C4 generation I noticed so much difference in ride quality that I would say it was "leaps and bounds" better. The first C4 I had was an '86, and the 11 years between the '75 and '86 models had made a big difference in how well the car rode and handled. The '68 and '75 were beasts compared to the '86.
Later, when I went through another '86 and a couple '88s on the way to my current '96, I would have to say that the differences in ride were not as dramatic. That is, between the closer ranged models. There is a difference, a notable one, between the '86 and '96, but not quite as dramatic as from '75 to '86.
Even within the fourth-generation there is significant change in ride quality, so to compare between generations only creates an apples or oranges problem. One interesting item to note when considering the C-4 is that a lot of "restomod" cars will use the C-4 components when sliding in a new frame under the C3 or C2 shell. This may have something to do with cost but I suspect has a lot more to do with simple comfort. I know that the '68 seemed to be quicker than my '86 and '88, so I'd happily swap out that engine/tranny combination so long as I could keep the C4 suspension system.
Not surprisingly, in the last few months of the Corvette magazines I've been reading all had cars from earlier generations that had fourth-generation suspensions put in them for the ride. That would seem to say a lot about the ride quality of the C4.
If you are interested in the difference between suspension for the various C4 models then take a look at the fourth-generation suspension chart at Corvette Action Center: http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/...usp_chart.html
. This will give you a great idea of the changes made just within the fourth-generation car line.
Squeaks, leaks, rattle and other issues are probably more related to the overall mileage and care of the car during its lifetime. In the long run, all of the fourth-generation cars I've had sounded and rode about like what you would expect for a car of that type. My current C4, a 96 convertible, is really very tight, and with just over 48,000 miles, in my experience, this is one of the better built C4 cars out there.
I know when a new model comes out its always said to be leaps and bounds over the previous model.
Some folks would disagree with you on this point, believing that a new generation is usually much worse than the older generation … especially when it comes to Corvettes. I have a friend who claims he would never own anything newer than 1967, and he's dropped enough money on his '65 to convince me he is serious. For what he's spent, he could easily have a very nice C5 or early run of the C6s.
Anyway, within the generation there are always advances, and some are considered significant over the prior year even within the same generation. Take for example the earliest fourth-generation cars and the crossfire injection system. For me, the question is what can you afford and what are you willing to put up with for the particular experience of owning a Corvette. Obviously, a C-5 will be considerably more expensive than a 1982 or 1984 C4 model. But if you can only afford the earlier year of the C4 generation then you're more likely to find it a great car regardless of how much better a C5 or C6 will run/ride.
Interesting to note is that sometimes changes between generations are not as dramatic mechanically as they are style exercises. Obviously Chevrolet has gotten a lot of mileage (pun intended) out of the 350 cu. in. motor in its various configurations. Not sure how much you want to consider the change from one generation to the next for this workhorse motor as significant or "leaps and bounds" above the last generation, but I guess there have been enough changes to consider one model or generation as improved. I'm just not sure some of those changes would make that big of buying decision difference for me, assuming that the cars were all within my particular budget. So the change from a '96 to a '97, both of which had a very similar motor setup, would not be the determining factor (mechanically); however, the styling cues may be enough to make me pick one over the other.
Of course,the migration from one generation to the next is not always as easy as the manufacturer might like, and the Corvette story is certainly proof of that. By the end of the third generation in 1982 the 350 motor was well proven and the fact that 1983 was pretty much skipped had less to do with "leaps and bounds" changes to the motor than it did other things such as suspension and changes to the manufacturing processes needed for the generational change.
If I recall, 43 of the 44 Corvettes produced in 1983 were destroyed and the only one remaining is in the National Corvette Museum (those with more information can correct me, of course). I also believe that the generational change had a lot to do with tooling and overall production issues, not just the fact that a new generation had come out. I guess what I'm saying is that this is an example of where the "leaps and bounds" changes may not have been so obvious.
Likewise, I don't think the change from the '96 C4 to the '97 C5 (mechanically) was so much of an "improvement" that it demanded folks forego a good quality C4. Again, I think it is probably more about styling, and by '96 the C4 was pretty much at the end of what they wanted to do with the styling issues. It was simply time for a change in order to keep interest high.
However Im one to belive thats not always true. Yeah there are generally better qualities about the newer stuff but its not always as much as its made out to be. I have very limited expierence with C5's. So far the benefits I have seen to the C5 are the LS1 having more power and no optispark, easier to take the targa off and on(which is a very nice feature), more room in the rear.
Since I am a rag top guy to the bitter end I'll leave the targa top stuff to others to comment on. I do know the fifth-generation convertibles I test drove had so much more room in their (trunk) storage areas than what I have on any of my C4 cars. So that's certainly an advantage that would be worth considering, but not necessarily one that would be a deal breaker for me.
I guess for me the change in generations is more about style than anything else. The later runs of the C4 were pretty much bomb proof as far as creaks, rattles, etc. The cars are well put together, in my opinion, and I have a lot less noise problem than anyone I know with a performance car from the same era.
As I noted, I think for a lot of people the choice between generations has to do with money more than anything else. A lot of folks will simply tell you to buy the latest model you can afford, but for me there's a lot more to it. While I like the C5 models, I kind of like the C4 design a little better. In fact, my favorite design is the '68-'71 runs of the C4s, followed closely by the '95-'96 C4s. The C5s are fine, but they just don't do it as much for me as the C3 and C4. Then again, I do like the C6s a lot, so maybe it's just a single generation thing for me.
Then again, if my money supply were bigger I definitely would have a C5 or C6 Corvette in the garage. I'd probably have a car from each generation, if I could afford it.
If comfort is a big deal, and based on your comments I'm assuming it probably is, then the C4 or C5 will do just fine. At just over 6'1" and 245 lbs I find that my C4 is comfortable enough for relatively long rides. My problem is not really comfort inside but more about how to get in and out. I have arthritis pretty bad in my lower back and hips, so sliding in and out is always a literal pain for me. Thankfully I was already a convertible guy, so one advantage is having the top down when trying in enter or exit.
Most recently I drove from southern Utah to Flagstaff, AZ, for a weekend jaunt, and both my wife and I were comfortable in the '96. The lack of space for our stuff was probably a bigger problem than the ride. I have a Harley touring bike as well, and I think I can carry more stuff on my bike than in my Corvette.
Maybe a C5 would be a bit better, but it would also likely be a lot more money out of my budget, so there's no real issue for me. I love the C4s, especially the later runs, and the overall ride is good enough for me.