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1986 Convertible

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 vehicle.

New features for the 1986 Corvette Coupe and Roadster included the following:

· The Bosch ABS II anti-lock brake system, integrated with the 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 traction.

· 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 device.

· The government mandated, centrally located rear stoplight 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 early 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 performance capabilities.

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 buyers.

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 Metallic.

Our prediction for the future is modest depreciation for both models in the 1-2% range.


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