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HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1985 Lingenfelter Corvette Z-51

Pick of the Day: 1985 Lingenfelter Corvette Z-51

One of the rarest C4s in the world

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The launch of the C4 Corvette in 1984 represented the single biggest leap that America’s sports car had taken since its introduction in 1953. The new C4 Corvette was a sports car that was literally built to take on the world. The only disappointment was that the first few years of the new Corvette it simply did not have the speed to match its handling capabilities or looks. This is because the engine it used at that time was basically taken directly from the old 1982 Corvette, and the old Cross Fire injected 350ci engine was a bit long in tooth.

Happily there was a person who saw this shortcoming and looked for a solution. That man is none other than the legendary John Lingenfelter.

John was a racer at heart, with three NHRA titles, and realized early on that in order to fund his racing it might be a good idea to found a company. That company is Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. He started his business selling Chevy 383 small block engines via mail order and it grew from there. With the release of the C4, Lingenfelter turned his focus to the Corvette. His products were well received and gained the attention of Reeves Callaway. Callaway asked him to build the engine for his new custom Corvette called the Sledgehammer. This led people to think of the name Lingenfelter as the creator of some of the fastest, yet drivable and reliable, Corvettes ever made.

Our Pick of the Day is one of these legendary cars, a 1985 Lingenfelter Corvette Z-51 for sale on ClassicCars.com by Precious Metal Classic Cars. The Elkhart, Indiana, seller describes this car as a 1,100 mile vehicle that is completely original. This car is special as it has an unbroken history.

The seller states that the original owner bought the car new from Norwood Chevrolet in Warwick, Rhode Island. The car was then sent to the builder who removed the stock 1985 engine and put a brand new 1986 Corvette “Bowtie” engine in the car. In those days, these were very hard to come by, as the blocks were made with a high nickel content and used almost exclusively for racing. From there it went to Lingenfelter for him to work his magic. The new engine was modified to 420 cubic inches and features an Accel 1,000-CFM fuel-injection system, an auxiliary oil cooler, Delco electronic ignition, MSD ignition wires, tubular exhaust headers, Lingenfelter-branded valve covers, and a Borla exhaust system.

Lingenfelter paired this engine with a legendary Rossler Transmission. The torque converter was from Art Carr and was paired with a 3.07:1 differential and also fitted 16″ Gotti multi-piece wheels. The car is equipped with power-assisted steering, and the Z51 Performance Handling Package features gas-charged Delco/Bilstein shocks, higher-rated mono-leaf fiberglass springs, stabilizer bars, and quicker steering gear. Braking is handled by power-assisted calipers over discs at all four corners.

In the world of collectible C4 Corvettes, this car is simply as good as it gets. The original red paint has received a complete paint correction and was then professionally ceramic coated. The paint looks exceptional.

The interior is finished in its original Corvette red leather and also looks to be in as new condition. There is no evidence of any bolster wear and the seats look as good as they did when the car was sold new.

If you love the C4 Corvette and want to get a car that is even more rare than a C4 ZR1, you should seriously consider adding this 1985 Lingenfelter Corvette Z-51 to your garage. Sure Lingenfelter is still in business, but this car was built during the early days of the company! This 1985 model is one of the cars that literally created the Lingenfelter legend. John Lingenfelter passed away on Christmas Day 2003 and was made a member of the national Corvette Museum’s Corvette Hall of Fame in 2006.

Click here to see the listing on ClassicCars.com for this Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

5 COMMENTS

  1. “Art Carr”, please. It’s a brilliant ‘Vette, even with the automatic. In my iffy past, I ran a 400ci SBC V8 Vega with an Art Cart PowerGlide, manual valve body. Dude built a winner, would 10/10 buy another Art Carr tranny even though I’m a stick guy😋

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