In all the history of the Corvette, the cars that have received the least amount of attention for their role in shaping Vette history are the prototypes. That's because many of them were not only thrashed in the name of performance, safety, and durability, but were also unknown to all but the few who worked and/or beat on them daily. The fate of many of them-like all but one of the "1983" Corvettes-was the crusher. Many times, that fate was due to liability concerns by The General about these cars getting loose among the common folk. But many other times, it was because there was not much left of them to save, especially the cars that were crash-test "survivors." This Admiral Blue '95 Corvette coupe escaped that fate and is now at home in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The 27th car off the Bowling Green Assembly line at the start of model year 1995 production, this one was shipped to Michigan after it was built as an engineering tool and testbed. Delphi Automotive Group, which was owned by GM at that time and included GM's former chassis-component-parts-maker Delco, took custody of this car and used it as the mule in developing the RPO Z16 Grand Sport package for the following ('96) model year. this car is very likely the last C4 Corvette ever used by a GM entity for research and development of that generation of Vette, after a decade-plus of R&D.
During the '95 model run, the decision was made that 1996 would be the C4's last go-round, and the all-new C5 would now get the lion's share of research and development attention and funding. But there was still enough money left to come up with a special edition to end the fourth generation with; one that included mechanical upgrades under its special-edition color scheme.
The biggest upgrade is the one that's most visible when you open the hood: A prototype LT4 engine, which didn't join the Corvette options list until 1996. This one has hand-lettered job numbers on both valve covers that topped its all-new aluminum heads. plus there are more than a few prototype-only stickers in the engine bay, including a big one saying this vehicle was exempt from Federal and California emissions regulations, and that copies of its emission-test data were available from GM's Corporate Affairs office (and that the sticker should be removed before GM sold the car). Because it was an as-tested vehicle, it has a nice "patina," the same color as Midwestern dust/dirt/topsoil, characteristic of a car that's spent more time on the road than being pampered.
The LT4 boosted the second-generation small-block V-8's horsepower by 30, to 330, thanks to good stuff like the new heads, which boosted compression from 10.4:1 to 10.8:1, plus a new camshaft/roller rockers combo. Combined with the early LT4 is a production RPO MN6 six-speed manual transmission that, for 1995, featured a newly redesigned reverse lockout on its shifter. Out back, in this last-of-the-nontransaxle Corvette test cars is the differential housing a set of 3.45:1 rear gears.