When it comes to fourth-generation Corvettes, they shared a common trait with all other American Sports Cars at that time, their power was not all that impressive. So when it came to the fourth-generation Corvette's final year (1996), Chevrolet decided that putting something special on the market would be a boost for their brand and bring big attention to the on-deck sixth-generation Corvettes of 1997.
To bring the spotlight back to the Corvette, Chevrolet's solution was to go back to 1963 when they made one of their meanest Corvettes of all time and revive the name and color scheme. For 1996, Corvette decided that 1,000 models would get special treatment for better performance, a louder color combination, and they would place the Grand Sport badges on the Vette just like they did in '63.
Giving the Corvettes What They Needed
Corvette engineers slapped the 1996 Grand Sport Corvette with an LT4 that originally pumped out 300-hp, but for this special edition Corvette, engineers managed to squeeze 30 extra horsepower out of them. They accomplished this with a more aggressive camshaft, higher-flow aluminum heads, larger valves, higher-compression pistons, new high-flow fuel injectors, and roller rocker arms.
Crazy colors followed – Admiral Blue Metallic paint was accented with a big white stripe that ran down the center of the body. Two red hash marks were placed on the left fender and matched the red interior. Black painted five-star rims completed the color scheme and made up the Corvette that some people ended up loving and some people ended up hating.
Grand Sport Corvette Handling Options
When it came to performance handling, the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport didn't get much more than the original standard Vettes did except for a bigger set of tires for the coupe: 275/40ZR-17 Goodyear radials in front and 315/35ZR-17s in the rear. The convertibles received the same size tires as the non-Grand Sport Corvettes did but there were options.
On the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport, just like with other Corvettes, you could spring for the $350.00 Z51 handling package which came with stiffer springs, new Bilstein shock absorbers, and front and rear stabilizer bars. There was also an optional Selective Real Time Damping system that cost an extra $1695.00. That system used sensors and accelerometers at each wheel to give the semi-active suspension the ability to readjust the shock damping in 10-to-15 milliseconds, sort of what they use today on the Corvettes just not nearly as sophisticated.
All-and-all, I always loved the look of the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport, it's one my favorite from the fourth-generation, although there wasn't much competition. The next year Corvette changed its style and engine, and the left over LT4s motors found their way into the 1997 30thAnniversary Camaros.