Retro MotorWeek: Auto or Stick in ’85?

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Classic Motorweek clip has great info for classic car shoppers today.

One of our favorite pastimes here at Corvette Forum is checking out classic MotorWeek road tests. We decided to share this one with you.

This road test is a little different. It’s a comparison test between two different versions of the 1985 Corvette. One car is an automatic with standard suspension. The other is equipped with a manual transmission and the Z51 suspension package.

1985 Corvette

In 1985, the automatic transmission was a no-cost option, while the Z51 package added $470 to the price, and added 35 pounds to the curb weight.

CHECK OUT: What Forum Members Are Saying About This Classic Comparo

Surprisingly, the automatic ran the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds against the manual transmission’s 14.2. Even with most modern sedans packing more power and plenty of performance, 13.9 in the quarter is still pretty respectable. We’ve been singing the praises of the C4 Corvette a lot lately, and it’s easy to understand why.

For 1985, the distinction between standard suspension and Z51 narrowed. The standard suspension could be ordered with Bilstein dampers, and both setups included identical-width Goodyear Eagle VR tires, front and rear. The standard steering box took a scant two-and-a-half turns to go from lock to lock, while the Z51 took just two.

While the Z51 was quicker in the slalom, there was little margin for error, and testers found it harder to safely explore the car’s limits.

They stated that most folks would be perfectly happy with a standard suspension and an automatic. That information is as useful now as it was back in 1985. For those of us hunting for a new project car, early C4s are an attractive, low-cost option. It’s good to know that if we were to find a great deal on an automatic or a car with standard suspension, we likely wouldn’t be missing anything.

Cam Vanderhorst is a contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum, and MB World. He is also a co-host of the Cammed & Tubbed podcast.

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