1996 Corvette Engineering and Technology

This press release from the GM Media Archives takes a look at the engineering and technological highlights of the 1996 Corvette.

Note:  All information and pictures on this page are courtesy of GM Media Archives. Rev. 09/25/1995

LT1 Engine

The 5.7 Liter LT1 small block V8 is the standard powerplant for Impala SS, Camaro Z28 Coupe, Z28 Convertible, Caprice Wagon and Corvette, and optional on Caprice Classic Sedan.

It produces 300 hp @ 5000 rpm, 285 hp @ 5200 rpm and 260 hp @ 5000 rpm for Corvette, Camaro and Caprice respectively. It produces 335 lb.-ft. torque at 4000 rpm, 325 lb.-ft. @ 2400 rpm and 330 lb.-ft. @ 2400 for Corvette, Camaro and OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics Second Generation) is standard.

The LT1 V8 is improved for 1996:

  • Exhaust manifolds have tri-layered stainless-steel exhaust gaskets which improve durability and reduce exhaust leaks
  • Recyclable copper-lead cam bearings replace the cadmium lead bearings used previously
  • Low-resistance ignition wires and platinum-tip spark plugs are designed to improve idle quality and cold-start performance
  • Revised pistons use a new positive-twist top ring that improves the piston-to-cylinder seal and reduces blow by emissions at high engine speeds.
  • The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) monitors the emissions system and its components to detect deterioration or malfunction. It also controls individual fuel injectors, optical ignition system and interacts with the available electronically controlled transmission. See OBD II section for details.

Introduced in the 1992 Corvette, the second-generation 5.7 Liter LT1 V8 packs impressive performance and responsiveness into an efficient package. The LT1's operating range extends hundreds of rpm beyond most OHV engines, giving the LT1 the low-speed punch of a traditional pushrod engine and the high-speed performance of an OHC design. This "best of both worlds" character makes the LT1 derived engine a potent powerplant for the full-size Impala SS, Caprice Classic and Camaro Z28 models. The LT1 combines outstanding efficiency, emissions compliance, durability, and performance.

Numerous technical features contribute to the LT1's outstanding performance:

  • Sequential Fuel Injection (SFI) optimizes combustion by using input from the PCM to precisely match fuel delivery to each cylinder's intake stroke. SFI is designed to provide a smooth idle, impressive driveability and precise emissions control
  • A mass airflow sensor provides accurate information on the amount of air entering the engine, which the Powertrain Control Module uses to determine the fuel requirement for maximum efficiency.
  • A low-restriction intake and air filtration system lets the engine breathe freely for efficiency, while meeting federal noise regulations
  • The LT1's cylinder head porting -- coupled with a weight-saving, one-piece intake system -- is designed to improve airflow into the combustion chambers for cleaner, more controlled burning, which can enhance power and efficiency
  • A reverse-flow cooling system circulates coolant through the cylinder heads before the engine block, improving heat transfer in the engine and radiator, and allowing a higher compression ratio for increased power
  • A gear-driven coolant pump virtually eliminates side-load stresses and ensures an uninterrupted coolant flow, even in the event of accessory belt breakage
  • An oil change monitor calculates and displays the condition of the engine oil from inputs such as miles driven, ambient air temperature and oil temperature
  • A standard oil-level sensor alerts the driver to a low-engine-oil condition when only one or two quarts are needed, instead of when the crankcase is virtually dry and engine damage is imminent
  • Upgraded oil pan
  • Composite rocker-arm covers added to absorb engine noise and vibration

LT4 Engine

A new High Output 5.7 Liter SFI V8 is available exclusively in Corvette Coupe and Convertible for 1996. Based on the famous LT1 small block, the new LT4 produces 330 horsepower at 5800 rpm (an increase of 30 horsepower over the LT1) and 340 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm. OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics Second Generation) is standard. The LT4 is the standard (and only) engine available on the new Grand Sport model. The LT4 is optional on the new Collector Edition, Coupe and Convertible models. This ultra-high-performance engine is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission.

The LT4 stands out with unique appearance features:

  • Red inlet manifold
  • Red spark plug and coil wires
  • Red "Corvette" lettering on manifold covers
  • Red "Grand Sport" lettering on throttle-body cover.

The following features contribute to the LT4's outstanding performance compared to the LT1:

C4 Corvette Forum
  • Aluminum cylinder heads with revised combustion chambers and ports increase airflow
  • Large 2.00" intake valves and 1.55" exhaust valves (versus 1.94"/1.50" valves in LT1) improve breathing
  • Lightweight hollow valve stems reduce valve train mass and increase rpm potential
  • High-load valve springs improve valve train dynamics at high rpm
  • Revised piston design with reduced valve pocket depth produces 10.8:1 compression ratio (versus 10.4:1 in LT1)
  • Aggressive camshaft profile has increased valve lift and overlap for high rpm operation for improved performance at high rpm
  • High-capacity fuel injectors meet LT4's increased fuel flow needs for higher performance
  • Roller rocker arms reduce internal friction
  • Exhaust manifold features single-point air injection and electric air pump to eliminate the parasitic loss inherent in mechanical systems.
  • Undercut and rolled fillet cast iron crankshaft improves durability
  • Opti-Spark provides one of the highest precision spark control and delivery system available
  • Dual-mass front torsional damper is tuned for high engine speeds
  • Premium head gaskets provide reliable sealing with high cylinder pressures
  • Steel cam drive and water pump gears driven by a roller chain enhance durability
  • Teflon rear crankshaft seal improves durability.


On-Board Diagnostics reach a new level of sophistication with the implementation of OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics Second Generation). The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) monitors the emissions system and its components to detect deterioration or malfunction.

  • The PCM stores and retrieves diagnostic messages to help technicians diagnose and fix problems quickly and accurately
  • The PCM alerts the driver by illuminating the "Service Engine Soon" light when it detects a deterioration in the performance of any of the monitored systems
  • Unlike first-generation systems that signaled only system failures, OBD II alerts the driver to have the vehicle serviced before experiencing a possible break down or incurring more expensive repairs.

6-Speed Manual Transmission

A ZF 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all 1996 Corvette models equipped with a 5.7 Liter LT4 engine -- Grand Sport, Collector Edition, Coupe and Convertible. (The 6-speed is not available with the 5.7 Liter LT1 engine for 1996.)

Introduced in 1989, the 6-speed gearbox was designed specifically for the Corvette by Zahradfabrik Friedshafen A.G. (ZF), a German transmission manufacturer known worldwide for its transmission expertise.

The 6-speed's 2.68:1 ratio in first gear provides high torque multiplication, for quick initial acceleration; two overdrive gears (0.75:1 fifth and 0.50:1 sixth) produce quiet, economical highway cruising. All speed-equipped Corvettes have a 3.45:1 rear axle ratio.

The 6-speed incorporates a Computer-Aided Gear Selection (CAGS) system. The CAGS system is designed to improve fuel economy during normal driving situations by directing the driver from first gear to fourth gear under light acceleration from a dead stop. Rapid acceleration automatically cancels the one-to-four shift.

4-Speed Automatic Overdrive Transmission (4L60-E)

The Hydra-matic 4L60-E 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission is standard equipment on all Caprice Classic, Impala SS and Corvette models equipped with LT1 engine, and is available on all Camaro models. The 4L60-E's "intelligent" electronic controls allow the transmission to match the engine's performance.

The 4L60-E has been refined for 1996. These refinements include:

  • Pulse width-modulated solenoid has been replaced with a simple on-off solenoid to help maintain shift quality
  • Premium friction material is used for the intermediate clutch and front and rear bands
  • The 4L60-E's 298-mm torque converter features specially brazed turbine pump blades designed to reduce fluid leakage, increase efficiency and improve durability
  • A new torque management strategy protects the powertrain by reducing the amount of energy and heat generated by frequent severe shifts when a vehicle stuck in a snow bank or similar situation is "rocked." The 4L60-E's wide range of gear ratios enhances both performance and economy. The 3.06:1 first-gear ratio provides high torque multiplication, for initial acceleration. The overdrive 0.70:1 fourth gear reduces engine rpm at cruising speed, thereby reducing wear.

The 4L60-E provides the precision and flexibility of electronic controls. Shift points and shift smoothness are controlled by four solenoids that are connected to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

  • The PCM acts as an interface between the engine and transmission, to provide the feel of a virtually "seamless" powertrain
  • The PCM monitors engine and transmission performance several times a second to ensure smooth gear changes and proper shift points
  • The 4L60-E senses and adapts to changes in altitude, barometric pressure and engine load, for maximum efficiency
  • The refined torque-converter-clutch controls provide nearly imperceptible clutch application and release
  • Electronic controls provide the security of "fail-safe" operation; if the controls malfunction for any reason, the transmission will automatically default to operable gear ratios, enabling the driver to reach a safe location.

The 4L60-E's second-gear-start feature provides an extra measure of control in hazardous driving conditions. By moving the gear selector to the D2 position, the driver can reduce torque to the drive wheels, increasing control during initial acceleration on slippery surfaces.

4L60-E transmissions are factory-filled with long-life Dexron III automatic transmission fluid that never needs replacement under normal driving conditions.

Anti-Lock Brake System

ABS is the most significant safety advancement in decades -- so important that Chevrolet has made ABS standard equipment on all passenger car models (except Lumina Base) for 1996.

ABS works by monitoring the rolling speed of the vehicle's wheels. When the ABS computer senses that wheel lockup is imminent during braking (such as when attempting to stop on a slippery surface), it modulates, or pulses, the brakes several times per second. The modulation is similar to "pumping" the brakes on a non-ABS-equipped car, but much faster (faster than even most professional drivers can accomplish). The modulation prevents the wheel from locking, allowing the driver to better maintain steering control. The end result is that the driver can steer clear of many potential crash situations. ABS can help avoid collisions and save lives. ABS pays off in another way: Some major insurance companies give discounts on insurance premiums (have your customer check with their insurer for specific discounts that may apply).

Bosch ABS V

The Bosch ABS V system is standard on the 1996 Caprice, Impala SS and Corvette. The system operates much like the GM ABS VI system, except with this system, drivers will feel feedback in the brake pedal when ABS is active.

Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)

Provides improved acceleration and enhanced vehicle stability. Created by Bosch and developed in cooperation with Corvette engineers, the system makes Corvette a year-round performer.

  • The ASR Electronic Control Module monitors several key inputs, including drive wheel speeds, vehicle reference speed, the speed difference of the non-driven wheels, the front-to-rear wheel speeds on the same side of the car, vehicle acceleration, and throttle position
  • ASR functionally integrates three sub-systems - engine spark retard, throttle close-down and brake intervention
  • The system is calibrated to allow some wheel slip during acceleration if it is deemed beneficial for the driving conditions
  • Engine torque control reduces drive torque. When activated, the system reduces airflow to the engine by closing the throttle. A throttle-cable relaxer communicates to the driver by pushing back on the accelerator pedal
  • Engine spark retard is also used to reduce engine torque, particularly when the demand is immediate and of short duration (e.g., encountering a short, slippery section of road at cruising speed)
  • ASR has individual rear brake control, making it possible to utilize the available traction on a split- coefficient (i.e., one rear wheel on slick pavement, one rear wheel on dry pavement) road surface
  • ASR is automatically engaged when the vehicle is started, but can be turned off manually when additional wheel slip is desired, such as when the car is mired in snow or mud
  • ASR does not require routine maintenance.


  • Heavy-duty four-wheel power disc brakes are standard on all Corvette models.
  • Black brake calipers have raised bright aluminum Corvette lettering on Grand Sport and Collector Edition models.
  • Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), standard equipment on Corvette since 1992, is a sophisticated traction-control system that works with the anti-lock brake system (ABS) (Go to Corvette ABS and ASR)


Standard power rack-and-pinion steering (15.7:1 ratio) enhances handling and responsiveness, providing precise control under demanding driving conditions.


All Corvette models have four-wheel independent suspension, providing outstanding handling characteristics.

The front suspension features forged-aluminum Short/Long Arm (SLA) control arms, forged-aluminum steering knuckles, a glass-epoxy transverse monoleaf spring, and a steel stabilizer bar.

The rear suspension is a five-link design with forged-aluminum control arms, knuckles and struts. A transverse glass-epoxy monoleaf spring, steel tie rods, a steel stabilizer bar, and tubular U-joint driveshafts complete the assembly. Toe and camber are fully adjustable.

Three suspension levels are available: Standard (FE1), Selective Real Time Damping (F45) and Performance Handling Package (Z51).

Standard suspension (FE1):

  • Low-rate springs, for a firm but comfortable ride
  • Bilstein shock absorbers.
  • Selective Real Time Damping System (RPO F45).
Selective Real Time Dampening (F45):
  • The new Real Time Damping System is the next step in optimizing ride while maintaining ultimate handling capabilities through a driver-adjustable ride control system. Selective Real Time Damping, which replaces the FX3 Selective Ride Control, is optional on all Corvette models. (Requires power driver and passenger seats).
  • Selective Real Time Damping helps to balance the vehicle by using sensors at each wheel, to measure movement. The data retrieved from the wheels and the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) is processed by a controller which calculates the damping mode that will provide optimum control of the vehicle. This sophisticated driver-adjustable Delco ride control system adjusts the shock absorbers in "real time" -- 10 to 15 milliseconds. Selective Real Time Damping is designed to:
    • Reduce impact harshness
    • Improve isolation
    • Improve rolling smoothness
    • Improve high-speed stability
    • Improve wheel control

Performance Handling Package (Z51)

  • Performance-oriented handling suspension tuned for showroom stock, autocross and gymkhana enthusiasts
  • Bilstein shock absorbers
  • Stiffer springs
  • Stiffer stabilizer bars
  • Higher rate bushings
  • 17" x 9.5" front and rear wheels
  • P275/40ZR-17 tires
  • Heavy-duty power steering cooler
  • Requires 3.07:1 performance axle ratio with automatic transmission
  • Available on Coupe only
  • Grand Sport has 17" x 9.5" front and 17" x 11" rear wheels, and P275/40ZR-17 front tires and P315/35ZR-17 rear tires.