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Pace Car Edition! 1986 Chevrolet Corvette

I’ll admit it, I’m not really drawn to Corvettes. I like them all, well most of them anyway, and some are very notable for various and sundry reasons. Perhaps it’s just the enormous number that has been produced over the years and that ubiquitousness gets one lost in a sea Corvettes that, in turn, lose their distinctiveness. Whatever the case, I have noted that the early C4s, and a batch of C3s, don’t get as much respect as later C4s. And for that reason, I wanted to tackle a post on this sharp-looking 1986 Indy 500 Pace Car version. It’s located in Mendota, Illinois and is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $18,995.

By 1986, the domestic auto industry was finally shrugging off the ’70s federally induced malaise that so “altered” the auto industry. By 1975, Chevrolet’s halo car had turned into a bit of an embarrassment, only slightly improving as the ’70s ground on. The Bowtie promised big things with the February ’83 introduction of the 1984 C4. Oh yeah, it was all new, and necessary, as the C3 had been around since ’68 and was getting really long in the tooth. Power wasn’t initially improved significantly, that would take a few years, but road manners had definitely been kicked up several notches and after all, that’s a major component of Corvette’s cache.

The big news here is that this ‘Vette is an Indy 500 pace car edition, one thankfully not adorned with a door decal so proclaiming in outsized lettering. It also marks the return of the convertible body style, not seen since that awkward 1975 model year. According to Vette Facts, there were 7,315 Corvette convertibles built in ’86 and all were designated Indy Pace Car replicas. While hardly a flashy Corvette hue, the Gold Metallic finish is great in an understated way. The seller claims that this Chevy is “super clean“, it sure looks it!

Under the hood is a 230 net HP, 350 CI small-block V8 engine. It is stated that it, “runs great & shifts perfectly!!“. Two thoughts on the engine front, ’86 was the first year for center bolt valve cover hold downs on small-block engines, having moved the four attaching bolts from the upper and lower edge of the valve cover. It was a design change to ensure better sealing. I know from my dealership years, I replaced a lot of old-style valve cover gaskets, under warranty, because the blasted things would leak due to poor attachment characteristics. It wasn’t a big problem, just a sloppy one. And, as the engines became more entangled with add-on components and emission control hardware, the gasket replacement job became a longer, and thereby more expensive, warranty tab for Chevrolet to cover. Secondly, the late ’86 Vette 350s made a move to aluminum cylinder heads but from what I have read, I gather they were problem-prone and subject to cracking. Gearbox duty has been relegated to a 4+3 speed manual transmission. It’s an interesting piece that provides an electronic O/D in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear.

Inside is a buckskin beauty in what looks like leather upholstery. Convertible interiors can take a real beating (especially when you leave the top down in the rain – been there, done that) but that’s not the case here – it still shows very well. And if it’s not weather abuse, it’s just the fact that such a light shade is much more agreeable with revealing dirt. The dash is an interesting throwback to those blocky, squared-off affairs favored by many manufacturers in the ’80s.

With a claimed mileage of only 70K miles, this early C4 convertible looks like quite a find – it’s one that I would certainly enjoy, how about you?


  1. Boatman Member

    Jim, if you worked at a dealer in the 80’s, you’re familiar with GMS- What wonderful stuff that was! Am I right?

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Staff


      I was earlier ‘72-‘74.


      Like 0
  2. Fred

    Pretty car, but I agree. Engine and trannys in this era are problems. Too bad, a sharp looking car.

    Like 1
  3. rmward Member

    Don’t know anything about the car, but I can vouch for dealership selling this car.

    Grew up in Mendota and started my career in the automotive industry at Schimmer’s in 1979. Honest, small-town dealership that likely doesn’t have much of a market for this car locally.

    Google their address and you’ll find a John Deere dealer next door.

    Like 2
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I have an 86 Convertible and there isn’t the love for the C4 generation there is for others so they can be gotten for a decent price. The biggest problem with them was the 4+3 tranny, so many didn’t know how to properly drive them and ended up damaging the overdrive unit. That’s what happened to mine before I bought it and it had been upgraded to the Tremec 5 speed. It’s a fun car to take out on a Sunday drive on those curvy back roads.
    It’s a shame for buyers today overlooking them. The suspension was a big improvement over the C3’s and they love those curves.
    My 2 cents.

    Like 7
  5. Stan

    Beautiful car. Manual + Convertible 🙌

    Like 1
  6. gbvette62

    The convertible was a mid year introduction in 86, and Chevrolet chose to badge every 86 convertible a “Pace Car”, regardless of color or options. The actual Pace Car used at Indy was Yellow.

    I’m not aware of any chronic problems with 86 aluminum heads, but the Doug Nash built 4+3 has a long history of issues. It was a novel idea, and they can be a good trans, but the biggest problem today with them is the lack of available parts.

    While the C4 was a step up in handling, from the previous generation, the ride the first few years was horrendous. 86 was probably the first year that GM made any effort to balance the car’s handling and ride, but it would still be 3 or 4 years before the comfort level of it’s ride, would be as good as the car’s handling.

    Like 4
    • Bick Banter

      Yeah, it is not actually a pace car edition, unless you consider all 7,315 1986 Corvette convertibles to be pace car editions.

      Looks well kept but this is not a particularly desirable color combination, nor is the 4 + 3 very popular either. So this would probably be in the 7-8k range in a normal market Today, who knows?

      Like 2
  7. Troy

    I have never owned or even ridden in a corvette one of these days I may bite the bullet and get one but I have never had good luck with Chevrolet or GM vehicles

    Like 1
  8. JBD

    Nice low mileage vert car that checks all the boxes. Refreshing to see a nice vert pace car after the tons of raced and beat up beater vettes for sale.

    FYI, the 4+3 is the tested and true BW Super T-10, with a tailshaft adapted 2 speed Powerglide auto unit, The biggest culprit is fluid leaks that can destroy any auto trans. Used and maintained correctly they are reliable, contrary to the hate.

    Like 0

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