White Lines (Don’t Do It!) – 1985 Chevrolet Corvette

So I was trying to think of how to intro this epitome of a 1980s car without a cliched reference to Prince (or any number of other musical references I could probably come up with if I tried), when I thought of what a bad idea buying a cheap, high-powered sports car really is. And that’s when I thought of White Lines… anyway, in trying to branch out a bit I’m going to have something of a series of Bad Ideas, inspired by some of the challenges on Top Gear. To intro the series, I thought I’d start with the C4 Corvette. Before you Corvette nerds start spluttering on your NCRS handbooks, I’m not saying the Corvette is a bad car by any means… but there is a point beyond which buying one is liable to get you or your bank account seriously injured or killed. These cars have always held a spot in my mind – for some reason, even though I’m not a huge Corvette fanatic, I can clearly remember the first time I saw one of these back in 1984. It was summer vacation, and my family and I had driven up to Konocti Harbor on Clear Lake in the less-than-trusty Saab 99 LE Wagonback… I can still picture the silver-gray car sitting there in the lot.

Anyway, enough nostalgia. Twenty-six years on, with new Corvettes far outshining them, the early C4s have been subject to some serious depreciation. Some, like the car we’re about to see, have probably been subject to some serious abuse. However, it’s allegedly running and driving, and while there were nicer automatic cars, this manual popped out at me since I prefer to row my own. At $3000, this red 1985 example in Lake Elsinore seems like just the ticket for some 80s-style fun.

1985 Chevrolet Corvette left

Hmmm, doesn’t look so bad. The red paint is slightly oxidized, but it looks like you get a targa roof or t-tops to keep you cool. You’re also looking at some later sawblade style wheels, which hopefully allow a broader tire choice and better grip for when you’re flinging your Vette-alopy around the corners.

1985 Chevrolet Corvette interior

First order of business is to clean or replace those seat covers. After that, find out why the 4+3 transmission won’t go into overdrive. On the bright side, the car has passed smog, runs strongly, and only has 112,000 miles.

1985 Chevrolet Corvette right rear

So yeah, there’s been a bit of abuse to this car…. see the right rear wheel surround. But hey, for $3K, you’re willing to make some compromises, right? You can live the dream on the cheap… just keep repeating that to yourself.


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