The answer, since 1953 to America’s demand for a native sports car was and is Corvette. Philosophically, Corvette has not changed in 33 years, mechanically, however, everything has changed. Corvette’s march of technical progress has been constant and inexorable: the V8 engine of 1955, its mutation into the famous 283 cubic inches of 1957 with the Rochester fuel-injection option, the legendary 454, and down to the V8-5.7 Liter that was in more contemporary parlance- with Tuned-Port Fuel Injection, an engine that earned the same respect and affection that the classic “cast-iron wonder” had 30 years before. Along the way, a 4-speed manual was transmission introduced in 1957, disc brakes all around in 1965, a 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic in 1968, the development of nonmetallic, composite material springs in 1981. And for the 1986, the addition of Bosch ABS II anti-lock braking.
To be the engine of a Corvette has always meant living up to high-performance aspirations. Of course, the definition of performance has changed markedly over the years- from the first three carburetor six-cylinder of 1953, through the original V8 of 1955, and on through a series of horsepower behemoths, culminating in the 454. The major focus of the 1986 Corvette was efficiency. That is, to extract maximum energy from a given measure of fuel, while minimizing energy loss. Fortunately, fuel crises and emissions controls constitute not the end of performance, but challenges to be met.
5.7 Liter Tuned-Port Fuel-Injection (TPI) V8
Displacing 5.7 liters (350 cu. in), this engine, exclusive to Corvette, features 90 degree V8 design overhead valves and an over-square, short stroke configuration (bore 4.00, stroke 3.48) with a compression ratio of 9.5:1. Copper core spark plugs, ball-tip push rods, one-piece oil pan and crankshaft seal are included, as well as Electronic Spark Control (ESC) to tailor spark advance to the level of octane in the fuel.
From those basics, the Corvette powerplant is modified to meet contemporary engineering requirements. Tuned-Port Fuel Injection for clean, complete combustion, for one example, and advanced aerodynamics for another.
Because a typical engine uses up a portion of its own power just sucking in air, Tuned-Port Injection lets fluid dynamics do much of this work, leaving more energy available for the wheels. Corvette’s system begins with a Bosch Mass Air Flow Sensor. This means a hot wire sensor holds an electronic finger to the wind to determine air mass by measuring temperature changes in the hot wire caused by different amounts of air passing over it.
This data is monitored more than 100 times each operating second and relayed to the Electronic Control Module (ECM) component of Corvette’s Computer Command Control. Simultaneously , the ECM lays its hand on the engine to see whether it’s cold, hot or in between. Then, the ECM meters the air/fuel mixture to suit the exact circumstances, from an oxygen-rich coastal highway to the oxygen-lean atmosphere of an 11,000-foot mountain pass.
That’s where the tuned port runners take over, coordinating, or “tuning,” the size, shape, and length of the cyclic waves of air moving through the closed induction system, “stuffing” the cylinders with air. Each runner, individually tuned to each cylinder, curves 190 degrees from the gleaming cast-aluminum air plenum to meet its assigned cylinder on the opposite bank.
Concurrently, Electronic Spark Control, using a tiny pietra quartz sender in the cylinder block, senses the early stages of detonation caused by heat, humidity or low octane level. The ECM then retards spark a precise amount. The result is optimized combustion regardless of altitude, humidity, ambient temperature or other conditions.
For another contemporary response, aerodynamics. Certainly Corvette has a highly aerodynamic body (its drag coefficient registers a slippery 0.323). But Corvette also exploits aerodynamics in places where it doesn’t show, specifically in the plumbing pathways that admit air into the engine. Notice there’s no grille to interrupt air flow in this Corvette. Instead, a duct leading to a louvered plenum-type air cleaner behind the front facia supplies air to the engine. That helps keep the aero numbers impressively low.
To exhale, stainless steel headers carry waste from the engine to a dual exhaust system carefully engineered to fit the undercarriage configuration. The fact that the catalytic converter tucks up under the drive-shaft channel beam contributes to the low cowl and hood-line of the car.
You can see many engineering considerations manifested in the appearance of the vehicle, but little things you can’t see mean a lot, too. For example, ultra-precise machining and fitting of internal parts allow the use of lower viscosity 5W-30 oil; 5W-30 significantly reduces the energy the engine uses just keeping itself well oiled. Again, less energy wasted on the way from the fuel tank to the wheels.
Many more details of this kind, even so basic a one as improved seals and gaskets to contain the lower viscosity oil, add up to an engine that can go directly from the assembly line to a grueling race and hold its high-throttle pace for 24 straight hours.
Horsepower and Torque
The steep rapid “torque rise” of Corvette’s engine is such a response. Think of it, if you like, as a powerful 10-speed cyclist who can go quickly from the lowest speed to the highest. Rapid torque rise means no lagging when leaving traffic lights, no vacillation about forward motion when shifting to the next higher gear. Yet, with maximum torque occurring as early as 3,200 RPM, the engine need not be loaded to the redline for every up shift.
Horsepower comes from and relates to torque. The fact that 230 peak horsepower at 4,000 RPM follows hard upon peak 330 lbs.-ft of torque at 3,200 RPM means an engine with a broad usable, RPM range.
This broad range combines with a choice of transmissions- standard automatic with 4th gear overdrive or the no-cost option 4-speed manual. Both the automatic and the manual have oil-water heat exchangers and aluminum housings. Aluminum contributes to rapid heat rejection (read: cooling). Superior cooling protects the transmission oil from degradation; that helps protect the bearings, gears and synchronizers when a Corvette exercises its acceleration and racetrack abilities.
As with Corvette’s other features, the transmissions presume driver control. While the standard automatic shifts itself rather smoothly , the driver can dictate precise commands to the manual unit. With overdrive in the top three gears, the manual gives a choice of seven gear ratios so engine speed can be kept where it suits the driver’s purposes, whether powering through a curve at a lateral acceleration of .91g, slogging through congested city traffic or following those long western straightaways right into the sunset. The bottom line on Corvette performance: zero to sixty in 5.6 seconds, Zero to a hundred in 14.9.
Anti-Lock Braking System
Leadership entails responsibility- the responsibility to show the way to the future. For more than 30 years, Corvette engineering has shown the way to a true American sports car. The Bosch ABS II- anti-lock braking system, integrated with the 4-wheel discs, a development as significant today as the first hydraulic brakes were over 50 years ago. ABS II, developed for Corvette by Bosch, is a computer controlled system. This state-of-the-art technology is applied automatically should the driver call for braking beyond normal tire/ road interface capabilities.
Whenever braking begins, wheel sensors automatically inform the Bosch ABS II computer of the angular velocity of the four wheels. This control unit “watches” each wheel, noting its rate of deceleration and comparing it to a calculated reference speed. Should a wheel begin to spin down too quickly-i.e., if it begins to lock up or develop too high a slip rate- the ABS II system momentarily releases brake pressure at the wheel in question. When the sensor determines that the wheel is no longer approaching lockup, pressure is reapplied to maintain braking. Simultaneously, the computer calculates vehicle velocity and applies this information to the control strategy.
When called upon to do so, Bosch ABS II can adjust brake pressure as rapidly as 15 times per second, a rate even the most skillful professional driver couldn’t attain. Pressing the brake pedal, the driver’s foot can feel ABS II pulsing away, diligently at work. The result: A system that prevents flat spotting of tires, while helping assure smooth stops in most types of road conditions. A system that allows the driver to apply the brakes without the wheel lockup. A system that provides improved control even with one wheel on a soft shoulder and the other on firm pavement.
In a Corvette, if pure science prevails to control going and stopping, absolute magic lives where the tires meet the road. Naturally, the specifications are exacting: A tire that approaches 0.91g lateral acceleration on the skidpad. A tire that’s V-rated- in other words, capable of sustained speeds in excess of 130 MPH. A tire that delivers a projected 30-40,000 miles of tread life, thus mastering the high-performance/ longevity dilemma in favor of both criteria. Finally, a tire that’s quiet at highway speeds. Enter the Goodyear Eagle P255/ 50VR-16, developed through the joint efforts of Good-year and Corvette engineers. A unidirectional steel-belted radial mounted on 16″ x 8-1/2″ aluminum alloy wheels.
Four patches of rubber, each with little more area than the sole of a man’s boot, designed to keep the car on the road even at high speeds, in tight curves or at braking rates over 1g of deceleration. If this be not marvel enough, those same small patches must move the car over table-smooth interstates, as well as city streets devastated by potholes.
The engine has only to respond to one motion; the downward pressure of the driver’s right foot. The tires must respond to all of the above, not to mention the shifts in the center of gravity as the car accelerates, maneuvers and stops.
How well those tire patches stay on the ground depends on how far the suspension system goes beyond the simple task of absorbing bumps to fulfill the demands of weight (and inertia) management. Corvette was one of the first in 1963 to install an independent rear suspension, at a time when many prestige marques from overseas retained their “live” axles. Corvette was a pioneer in the use of aluminum alloy suspension components- more expensive than steel, but much lighter. To further reduce unsprung weight, and to achieve an authentic technical innovation in the bargain, in 1981 Corvette went beyond the subtleties of metallurgy to the sophistications of polymer science, developing nonmetallic springs made of filament glass in an epoxy matrix- an achievement replicated most often in jet aircraft and space vehicles.
As the suspension responds to bumps, upper and lower A-arms of forged aluminum up front and five coordinated links at the rear locate the wheels in the proper planes. Knuckles and struts are also forged from aluminum. Tied to transverse monoleaf springs, front and rear, these components help assure minimal loss of traction during hard acceleration or braking. Then there’s roll to consider. As the car enters a turn, it naturally wants to lean. Here the monoleaf spring acts as a stabilizer bar. The reason is simple enough: visualize the leaf spring trying to bend itself into an S shape as the body leans. It’s the spring’s resistance to bending into an S shape that helps minimize roll. That also means the actual stabilizer bars can be skinnier and lighter, which translates into less weight built into the car. Steering? It’s a rack-and-pinion setup that rides ahead of the front axle, helping lower the engine. Made of aluminum, the system responds to commands with virtually no lag.
Yet another element is necessary, of course. A skeleton to suspend the wheels and tires, to contain the seating package, to cradle the engine and drive train. In Corvette’s case that means a uniframe or space frame, which for two reasons is unlike anything in use before. (a) It’s made of relatively thin sections of sheet steel spot-welded together, and (b) the fiberglass skins, in contrast to a conventional utilized body, are like the semi-monocoque system characteristically used in airplanes.
The concept involves marrying the uniframe or upper structure and the frame into a single unit. (In previous designs the birdcage was perched atop frame rails on rubber body mounts; the current generation Corvette has eliminated this heavy, bulky ladder-type frame). Integrating the body/ frame structure is more cost efficient than older concepts. Even more important, it results in a stiffer, better structure underpinning the car.
Even before the shape was determined, the goal was clear. The form needed to fully assimilate engineering, mathematics and aesthetic values, it needed to achieve subtle brutality and sensitive balance; that clearly expresses the singular heritage and continuing purpose of the Corvette. The stunning attainment of that objective is obvious in the palpable presence created by this vehicle. Line and nuance converge in a distinctive silhouette embodying the urgency of motion. The machine’s snarling posture recalls performance and handling capabilities at a glance. Working harmoniously, all elements contribute to the formation of this three-dimensional sculpture. As a car celebrating excitement, Corvette remains, first and always, a work of art.
Like all good design, Corvette directs the eye to scan in definite sequence. The smooth contours of the refined bodywork, the aggressive quality of the crouching stance, the forward thrust of the wheel-oriented fuselage, the aerodynamic efficiency of the lowered nose. All in an expanding wedge that rises from the front facia, over sweeping a clamshell hood, past a dramatically raked windshield and sloping roof line, to culminate in the sharp tail upper structure and four circular taillights that bespeak continuity with past Corvettes.
Note, too, the interplay of other elements. Integrated fog, front and rear cornering lamps, hidden halogen headlights that tumble forward 162.5 degrees as they emerge. Frameless rear glass hatch. One-piece roof panel that lifts off to open Corvette to sun and stars. All defined in an envelope with width sufficient to dominate, uninterrupted save for a single horizontal groove that houses the body side moldings while inviting the eye to follow the unbroken flow of the car.
A perfect driving environment is the goal. In addition to standard air conditioning, every Corvette is equipped with tinted glass, power windows, side window defoggers and convenient driver-side, door-mounted windshield wiper and washer controls.
During daylight hours the retractable lamps are hidden beneath the low, sleek hood line. At night they flip forward 162.5 degrees, preserving the aerodynamic shape of Corvette.
The core of the sophisticated Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS) is a special module with a resistor decoder and an ignition key with a pellet of specified resistance. Other equipment includes a special starter relay and a new lock cylinder. When the key is placed in the ignition, lock cylinder contacts “interrogate” the resistance. The VATS module then decodes the key and, if compatible, closes the starter relay, which in turn allows you to start the car. Code information cannot be retrieved from the VATS module with even the most sophisticated electronic techniques. An anti-theft horn alarm circuit with starter interrupt is also standard on every 1986 Corvette.
New for 1986, Bosch ABS II uses an electronic sensor to monitor rates of wheel rotation during braking. If a wheel begins to lock up, the control unit releases braking pressure briefly, then reapplies it when traction is regained.
Goodyear 50VR Tires
The standard tire and wheel combination features P255/ 50VR-16 Goodyear unidirectional steel-belted radial tires mounted on 16″x 8 1/2″ aluminum alloy wheels with functional turbine-blade design and anti-theft nuts.
Roof Panel Storage
The removable one-piece roof panel combines the security of a closed car with the exhilirating effects of an open roadster. There is no T-bar. The roof is removed using a ratchet wrench designed for this application. The panel may then be stored within the car in a lock-down position in the rear compartment.
Halogen Fog Lamps
The integral halogen fog lamps make driving under adverse conditions easier. Operation is independent of the headlamps.
The high-back cloth bucket seats are contoured to provide the feeling of individualized fit and comfort. Manual back angle adjustment is offered. Other interior features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual rear lockable storage compartments, lighted visor vanity mirror.
Tilt/ Telescopic Steering Wheel
Corvette adjusts to your driving style with a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes.
4-Speed Automatic Transmission
Four-speed automatic overdrive transmission with lockup torque converter contributes to impressive performance plus low RPM highway cruising.
4-Speed Manual Transmission
If you prefer, choose the smooth-shifting manual 4-speed, with an electric automatic overdrive feature in 2nd 3rd and 4th gear, which is optional at no extra cost.
With this model. every Corvette buyer received a complimentary subscription.
Corvette Safety Features
- Manual lap/shoulder belts for driver and passenger (driver’s side includes visual and audible warning system)
- Energy-absorbing steering column
- Energy-absorbing instrument panel
- Energy-absorbing front seat-back tops
- Laminated safety windshield glass and tempered safety side and rear window glass
- Safety interlocking door latches
- Passenger-guard inside door lock handles
- Safety armrests
- Integral head restraints, driver and right front passenger.
- Side marker lights and reflectors
- Parking lamps that illuminate with headlamps
- Four-way hazard warning flasher
- Backup lights
- Center high-mounted stop lamp
- Directional signal control with lane-change features
- Windshield and side window defroster, windshield defroster and washer and dual-speed wipers
- Inside rearview mirror with vinyl-bonded glass
- Dual electric remote outside rearview mirrors, convex on right-hand side
- Anti-lock brake system with dual master cylinder and warning lights
- Starter safety switch
- Low-glare finish on instrument panel top, inside windshield moldings, wiper arm/ blades, metallic steering wheel surfaces
- Illuminated heater and defroster controls
- Illuminated wiper controls on driver’s door
- Tires with built-in tread wear indicators
- Audible reminder for ignition key removal
- Theft-deterrent steering column lock
- Visible vehicle identification number
- Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS)
- Audio alarm system with starter-interrupt feature
- Locking roof panel with theft-deterrent mount
- Theft-deterrent wheel lugs
Z51 Performance Handling Package
For the true enthusiast, the Z51 package features 16″ x 9-1/2″ wheels, higher rated monoleaf fiberglass springs, Delco/ Bilstein gas-pressurized shock absorbers, stabilizer bars and selected control-arm bushings, a quicker steering gear and heavy-duty cooling.
Delco/ Bilstein Shocks
A gas-charged Bilstein shock at each wheel contributes to a comfortable ride while enhancing the precise handling characteristics for which Corvette is famous. Available with base and standard on Z51 suspensions.
Heavy-Duty Cooling Equipment
These items, which are available separately, include an auxiliary cooling fan, engine oil cooler and heavy-duty radiator. They are designed to provide additional cooling capacity during extended high-speed or competition driving. Standard with Z51 Performance Handling Package.
Leather Seat Trim
Leather may be specified as the covering on standard Corvette seats.
Leather Sport Seats
The sport seat is trimmed in genuine leather and features power adjustments of upper side bolsters, lumbar support and back-angle adjustment. A six-way power driver’s seat is also available for either standard or sport seats.
Electronic Speed Control
Electronic speed control includes a convenient resume-speed feature and a speed adjustment that allows you to change your speed in precise one-MPH intervals. Available with bonus 4-speed and automatic transmissions.
Electronic Air Conditioning
This new optional electronic control air conditioning complements Corvette’s sophisticated instrument displays. The system features easy-to-use color-coded push buttons and a digital temperature control. Once set, the temperature is automatically maintained. An available display registers outside air temperature, helping you monitor ambient weather and road conditions.
Delco/ Bose Sound System for Music That’s Tuned to Your Corvette
The Delco/Bose stereo, available only as a factory option in the 1986 Corvette, offers sound so real that it’s been rated by experts as the best stereo system available in a production automobile. Delco/Bose performance rivals the most expensive home stereos, because it is tailored exactly to the acoustics of Corvette.
The Delco-GM/Bose Music System is composed of a receiver and four bass reflex amplifier/ speaker enclosures engineered specifically for window placement, angle and density of glass, seating position and cockpit configuration. Even the textural composition of the upholstery and carpeting were considered. Each speaker has its own built-in equalizer network.
Other features of the system include: AM/FM stereo reception with automatic adjustment. Circuits adjust reception, assuring maximum sensitivity to weak stations without danger of overload on strong signals. Electronic tuning with seek and scan features. Seek buttons changes stations electronically. Scan button automatically samples all clear radio signals for five seconds each. Digital VF (Vacuum Fluorescent) read-outs of time or radio frequency are featured. Dynamic Noise Reduction and Dolby Sound Noise Reduction reduces high-frequency “hiss” on AM, FM and cassette tape. The integral tape player features auto-reverse and music search features. Also: 100 watts of power. Four separate speaker enclosures. Separate treble and bass controls. Computer- balanced, wrap-around sound.
Color Options for 1986
- Silver metallic
- Medium Gray Metallic
- Medium Blue Metallic
- Gold Metallic
- Silver Beige Metallic
- Copper Metallic
- Dark Red
- Medium Brown Metallic
- Bright Red
- Silver/ Gray
- Gray/ Black
- White/ Silver
- Silver Beige/ Medium Brown
- Silver Beige/ Black
- Graphite Cloth
- Medium Gray Cloth
- Blue Cloth
- Saddle Cloth
- Bronze Cloth
- Graphite Leather
- Medium Gray Leather
- Blue Leather
- Saddle Leather
- Bronze Leather
- Red Leather
|Wheelbase||96.2 inches (2.443 m)|
|Overall Length||176.5 inches (4.483 m)|
|Overall Width||71.0 inches (1.803 m)|
|Overall Height||46.4 inches (1.179 m)|
|Front Tread||59.6 inches (1.514 m)|
|Rear Tread||60.4 inches (1.534 m)|
|Standard Wheel Size||16 x 8.5 inches|
|Standard Tires||P245/50VR-16 or P255/50VR-16 SBR|
|Steering||Power Rack and Pinion|
|Front Suspension||Single fiberglass composite monoleaf transverse spring with unequal-length aluminum control arms and stabilizer bar|
|Rear Suspension||Fully independent five-link system with transverse fiberglass single-leaf springs, aluminum upper/lower trailing links and strut-rod tie-rod assembly|
|Brakes||Four-wheel power disc|
|Body Construction||Unibody with partial front frame|
|Fuel tank||20 US Gal (16.7 Imp Gal) (76 liters)|
|Engine||Base Engine RPO L98|
|Type||V-8, 90-degree Overhead valve|
|Displacement||350 cid (5.7 liters)|
|Bore & Stroke||4.00″ x 3.48″|
|Brake Horsepower||230 @ 4000|
|Torque||330 lb-ft @ 3200|
|Fuel Supply||Tuned-port induction (TPI) system|