The Soft Top Returns
BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments
The year 1986 was very special for the Corvette. Numerous new
features were made available in addition to the introduction of
the long awaited Convertible – or Roadster, as we prefer to call
them. In fact, in their press releases the folks at Chevrolet
referred to the new model as the 'Roadster'. We have been using
this term for years because it is the sports car jargon for
convertible, and appropriate for this special world-class
New features for the 1986 Corvette Coupe and Roadster included
· The Bosch ABS II anti-lock brake system, integrated
four wheel discs, which superimposes its logic over a driver’s
foot. ABS utilizes sophisticated electronics to detect when any
wheel is on the verge of locking up. It then precisely controls
the wheel’s braking action to make use of maximum available
· VATS – The vehicle anti-theft system was a significant
development that drastically reduced Corvette thefts. This
special ignition key, which was standard equipment, had an
electronic coding feature that would disable the ignition if the
wrong key was used, or if the normal ignition system was
bypassed. A study from the Automobile Club of Michigan
indicated that in 1985, ACM insured 1499 ’84 and ’85 Corvettes
(prior to VATS) and reported 111 were stolen. In 1986, 482 ’86
Corvettes were insured with ACM (VATS equipped) and only 6 were
stolen – and of these, some were stolen due to keys left in the
ignition. The VATS system is a definite anti-theft
· The government mandated, centrally located rear
appeared above the rear window on the Coupes and above
the “Corvette” logo on the rear of the Roadsters.
· Aluminum heads were introduced but were delayed on the
Coupes due to manufacturer fine-tuning. However, all of the
Roadsters were equipped with the new heads.
· A revised steering wheel was added. It was thicker and
provided a softer grip.
The Roadster was the big news in 1986. It would also carry the
distinction of leading the Indianapolis 500 as the
official 'Pace Car'. All of the 1986 Corvette Roadsters were
designated as Pace Cars and included the Indianapolis 500 Decal
Package in the price. However, the only ones used at the Indy
Track for the pre-race activities and the actual Pace Car were
all Yellow in color. The totally new Roadster was a mid-year
introduction. A considerable amount of engineering went into
the structural changes and substantial suspension tuning
refinements. The press immediately picked up on the clean
classic lines of the Roadster, and of course, its handling and
Many asked about the availability of a removable hardtop. The
answer was, it would be available in the future, but not with
the 1986 model. The hardtop went into production in March,
1989, and was available with a simple kit to make it adaptable
for the 1986 model. List price was $1,995.
The Roadster was introduced at a base list price of $32,032.
The production numbers reflect 7,315 built during the 1986 model
year. Initial sales of the 1986 Corvette Roadster was at list
price and over, since this was a high demand Corvette.
After the Indy 500 Race, prices settled down to a normal
Corvette depreciation trend (normal for newer Corvettes).
Today, the average price of a 1986 Corvette Roadster is
$13,500. At the high end of the spectrum you can find one with
low mileage, official Pace Car Yellow, for prices in the upper
teens. At the low end are prices under $10,000. However,
nice 'drivers' at this price are hard to find. The 1986 models
provide a considerable amount of value at these prices.
The 1986 Coupe was introduced at a base list price of $27,027.
The production run for Coupes numbered 27,794. Today’s average
price for the 1986 Coupe is $9,500, reflecting a depreciation
factor of 1% from last year’s average price. We registered a
high price of $16,000 and a low price of $3,400 for a high
mileage Coupe in need of TLC.
The horsepower of the 1986 Corvette was rated at 230. However,
all Roadsters and Coupes built late in the model year had
aluminum heads and were rated at 235 HP. The 0-60 speed was 6.5
seconds and the quarter mile was 15 seconds at a speed of 91
MPH. Top speed was approaching the 150 MPH mark.
The majority of Corvettes in 1986 were full optioned cars.
Virtually all were equipped with the optional power door locks,
cruise control and the power driver’s seat. Also the majority
of buyers (92%) selected the Bose sound system. On the rare
side was the selection of the 4-speed transmission – only 19%
ordered this option. The Z51 performance handling package was
selected by 35% of the buyers. Also, the special sport seats,
that were a $1025 option, were selected by 38% of the
From a paint color perspective, Bright Red was by far the most
popular color, followed by Black and Dark Red Metallic. On the
rare side was the Copper Metallic color ordered by only 4
buyers, and only 126 units were built with the Medium Blue
Our prediction for the future is modest depreciation for both
models in the 1-2% range.
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