1996 Corvette Grand Sport
The Corvette Design Team wanted to do a fitting 'close' for the long-running C4 body style. The 'car guys' had created the mules for the Grand Sport in 1993 and showed it to a small group of dealers and marketers that help set brand direction.
The feedback was that the design was 'too bold' and they only forecast sales of 500-1000 units. That wasn't enough sales -- they were all worried that the coming C5 would hurt the last year of the C4. But Heinricy and others were pushing hard to have GM do something different and bring the GS to the market.
At the coffee pot one day, Heinricy and Dave Hill were talking about the problem. One of them (he couldn't remember which) thought for a minute and said, "How about we have two special models? We'll make an unlimited number of commemorative specials and the limited-run GS."
In that room they set the maximum number of Grand Sports at 1,000 since that's what the marketing guys said they could sell. The Collectors Editions, on the other hand, eventually comprised nearly 25% of the total 1996 production!
As a result of that coffee room conversation, the planning began for something the General had never done -- two very different, special versions of the Corvette in a single model year.
One other note: Heinricy said he had a real fight on his hands for the special VIN sequencing for the GS models. After doing a special series for the ZR1s, GM insituted a policy banning the practice. John said he and others felt strongly about the need to make the Grand Sports "even more special" and fought the political types to make it happen.
GM built 1,000 limited edition Grand Sports for the 1996 model run: 810 coupes and 190 convertibles. GM records indicate that of these, 976 Domestic (US), 13 Canadian, and 11 European exports were produced. Only one convertible is believed to have been exported to Europe and all exports were believed to have black interior.
Some people ask what the significance is of the the red hashmarks on the front left fender of the Grand Sports. During some races of the original 1963 Grand Sports, the teams placed strips of tape (rumor says duct tape) on the fenders instead of numbers to identify the cars.
While sharing the same bore and stroke, there is a lot more to the 1996 LT4 engine than just a red intake manifold. The LT4's horsepower increase and reliability at higher RPM's (compared to a standard LT1) is largely achieved through the following differences:
New camshaft design
Roller rocker arms
Revised Head design
Revised Piston Design
Positive-twist top piston rings
Roller timing chain
Specially machined crankshaft
Dual-mass front torsional damper
Nodular iron main bearing caps
Teflon rear crank seal
Thanks to the Official Grand Sport Registry