Design Notes: 4th Generation Corvette
By 1979 the overall design was fairly well established but, interestingly, had a discernible crisp angularity that the designers didn’t think would wear well over the C4’s twelve-year model-life expectancy.
Therefore, it was softened and the Aerovette-like front was incorporated.
In a strange twist, the softened grilled-front clip would ultimately be swapped out yet again, this time for another angular design–the one we’re familiar with–for two reasons.
First, it was determined through testing that a grill was entirely unnecessary for the bottom-breathing design and, second, the shape caused the front of the car to lift at higher speeds. The designers felt removing the detail from the front end obliterated the look. Their answer was to fit a set of polycarbonate-lensed high-intensity fog lamps in their place, thus creating the Corvette face we’re familiar with.
To the right is the final clay model under construction in November of 1979. It was being formed during the period of indecision about the front end. It was originally finished with the grill intakes but later changed to include the fog lamps enclosures.
The photo showing the rear angle of the familiar-looking body with louvered tail lamps was taken in November of 1979. In order to stay faithful to a time-honored design element, when lit behind the louvers, the car’s tail light lenses were actually round.
Cockpit worthy of Corvette
This structure was created in January of 1980 for the purpose of establishing interior and seating specifications.
By 1980, interior mock-ups were narrowed down to only a few choices, here are two. The first looks rather unfamiliar for a Corvette and had comparisons drawn to a Porsche 928 cockpit.
This mock-up looks far more familiar but appears to lack the production model’s digital instrumentation.
By early 1980, a full-sized fiberglass model was completed and apart from minor detailing (such as the lack of front and rear cornering lamps), it pretty accurately represented the production 1984 C4 Corvette.