How Cheap Can a Cheap Corvette Get?

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If you want a cheap Corvette, then the C4 is in the sweet spot of being plentiful but still too young to be vintage.

Recently, we wondered just how inexpensively you can pick up a cheap Corvette. Our winner is this 1990 C4 advertised on Craigslist. At $2,100 for a California car it appears to be a bargain due to those wonderful words “Clean title.” Of course, a $2,100 Corvette that drives well, just needs a MAF and looks that good should be viewed with some suspicion, particularly as the mileage isn’t given. But, we are just using it as our baseline for what’s being advertised. It’s either the best bargain Corvette out there or a financial disaster waiting to happen. We suspect there’s no in-between with this example.

So, why are C4 Corvettes hitting the market so inexpensively? Well, the C4 is a wonderfully competent car, but it has become a bit of a lost generation. While it was a big change from the C3, the C4 is often overshadowed by the C5 that improved drastically in not just power and performance, but in ergonomics and build quality as well. The C6 Corvette just took that ball and kept running.


However, while people are searching out C5 and C6’s as bargains, they are missing some real hidden gems. The C4 Corvette suffered from an engine born in a time when emissions regulations where still throttling performance, so Chevy focussed heavily on the chassis to seriously raise the bar on handling. Things got a bit better for the 1992 and forward C4 models when the L98 was replaced with the  LT1.


ALSO SEE: Jet Turbine-powered C4 Corvette Drag Car Leaves Us Wanting More


That power deficit is no doubt part of the reason it gets overlooked but a well-maintained example is a fun, crisp, and torquey drive. If you’re on a tight budget or just want something cheap and fun in the garage, then that’s well worth the price of admission. How long prices will stay down for is debatable. We said at the beginning the C4 is in the sweet spot of being plentiful but still too young to be vintage. However, it’s not slotting into the area where it’s going from looking out-dated and into the realm of looking retro.

With nostalgic thirty and forty-somethings being at the age where they have money, retro 80’s and 90’s cars are becoming popular. The automotive media has been threatening prices on C4’s rising for years now, but between nostalgia hounds and the threat of the drift tax looming for older ‘Vettes, now is probably the time to pick one up. In fact, we’re going to take another look at this insanely cheap one and then keep searching for more.

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Ian Wright is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites. Check out his podcast Both Hand Drive.

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