When people hear the word "Corvette," many thoughts and stereotypes immediately spring to mind. To some, memories of racing heritage and championship victories are how they define the Corvette; others see them as midlife-crisis status symbols driven by snobby elitists. Even within the Corvette community, there are models looked down upon by owners of other generation Corvettes. There was no '83 Corvette, and in 1984, enthusiasts were eager to see the latest rendition of their beloved two-seater. The '84 Corvette is the first model year of the C4 platform, which carried on through 1996. Although it grabbed the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 1984, there was little competition in the domestic performance category at the time. From GM, the '84 Cross-Fire injection 5.7L Corvette came with a measly 205hp rating. Quarter-mile ET could be timed with a sundial by today's standards, resulting in mid-15 second passes, and magazine test reports showed a pathetic 7-second 0-60 mph time. Now even family cars with four-bangers could humble this performance vehicle, and many Corvette aficionados refer to the Cross-Fire as "Mis-Fire" because of its unpopular EFI setup, which was only produced for two model years. The more popular TPI and LT1 engines soon followed, starting in 1985, never giving the Cross-Fire much of a chance to shine.
In the July 2006 issue, we brought you four vehicles that ran impressive times on a tight budget. Those cars ran 11s cheaply, but they didn't start with a 15-second car as the platform. This latest installment will provide you with proof of how simple it is to make a V-8-powered sports car run 11s with minimal modifications.
John Wood III of Cypress, Texas, has owned this '84 Corvette for more than 15 years. It was originally his father's garage queen, and he was given the keys at age 16. The car was already 11 years old when John got behind the wheel for the first time, but it has been maintained immaculately its entire 78,000-mile life. Somewhere along the way, John decided the car needed to have performance to back its appearance. This was probably the result of him having 5.0 Mustang buddies back in the day who taunted him with their typical Flowmasters and 3.73 gears. Everyone thinks a Corvette is supposed to be fast, but these early C4 models definitely do not fit that stereotype in factory form. John, along with his father and friends, started tinkering with the Corvette, doing minor things to enhance its performance. The first mods were the addition of 1.6 ratio rocker arms, a homemade cold air intake, and drag radials. This setup produced timeslips in the 14.30 ET range. The addition of 3.73 gears finally got the car into the 13s, but that wasn't quick enough for John. The factory catalytic converter was replaced with a high-flow unit, and the mufflers were bypassed. Next came a NOS brand wet-nitrous kit, specifically made for the Cross-Fire (kit #5125, no longer produced), which was jetted to 125 hp. This combo got the "Mis-Fire" into the 12.50 ET range, and a little more custom-tuning and a man-sized 150hp nitrous jet netted the current best ET of 11.86 at 119 mph with an impressive 1.6 short time. As you might imagine, this car has seen its share of street encounters. Unsuspecting challengers smirk at this stock-looking '84 "Mis-Fire," but are then quickly embarrassed. Recently, the owner of a C5 Z06 was talking negatively about the engine at a car gathering, and was later humiliated by the Grand Daddy C4-in front of witnesses.
Amazingly, this car's entire list of modifications costs less than $2,000. The Corvette runs a completely stock long-block (except for the rocker arms mentioned), and the factory fuel system is still in use. The original 700R4 transmission hasn't been touched in its 78,000 miles, and that includes the stock torque converter, suspension, everything.
Considering these '84 Corvettes currently sell in the $4,000-$10,000 price range, you could net an 11-second sports car for the price of a used Honda Civic. It's too bad so many young drivers don't fully realize the true potential of the V-8, and elect to roll around in stickered imports instead. Luckily for John, his father steered him in the right direction at an early age by introducing him to Chevrolet performance. He has since owned quite a few LSX-powered vehicles, but this Corvette has sentimental value, and will always be a part of the Wood family.