What You See: The new ZF six-speed manual transmission was first installed in '89 Corvettes in preparation for the upcoming ZR-1.
What You Don't See: You could call the '89 production year a year of "lasts" rather than "firsts." This was the last year for the Corvette Challenge Series, and Bowling Green built 60 cars for competition. Also, the digital dash was phased out as was the MAF sensor, replaced with a MAP sensor that sensed manifold pressure instead of airflow.
What You See: This was the first year for the ZR-1. The special ZR-1 LT5 engine was designed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine. The exotic four overhead cam engine burst on the Corvette scene, producing 385 hp. A hybrid digital/analog dash was installed in the '90 Corvettes, featuring a digital speedometer with an analog tach and secondary gauges.
What You Don't See: The '90 Corvettes had improved ABS and yaw control within their electronics system; and the heart of that system, the computer, was moved from under the dash to a more accessible position on the driver side, under the hood.
What You See: The big news for '91 was the updating of the front and rear (non-ZR-1) fascias. The more rounded front featured wrap-around lights, and the body side molding was painted the body color.
What You Don't See: FX3 and Z51 were combined to make a new RPO Z07 featuring selective ride control with the performance-handling package. RPO Z07 was designed for aggressive driving or competition, and adjusted the ride from firm to very firm. Also, an oil-pan float was installed to alert the driver of a low oil condition. This was also the first time that delayed power was installed in a Corvette, allowing the occupants to listen to the radio or operate windows after the key was turned off. This was also the last year that Callaway B2K Corvettes were available.
What You See: The big news for Corvette in 1992 was the introduction of the second-generation small-block, dubbed the LT1. This new offering was under the direction of Anil Kulkarni and focused on cooling issues as well as improved fuel/air control.
What You Don't See: The LT1 produced 20 percent more power, had better fuel mileage, and met emissions standards better than the L98 (Tuned Port engines). Along with the new engine, synthetic oils were introduced which eliminated a need for any oil coolers. Automatic Slip Regulation made its way into Corvette in '92 as a standard feature. The one-millionth Corvette was built as a '92 model.
What You See: Corvette was back celebrating anniversaries on even numbers again, and this year was its 40th. A special Ruby Red Anniversary Edition was available in all models, and all leather seats installed in Corvettes for '93 had "40th Anniversary" embroidered into the headrests. The '93 Corvette was the first auto sold by GM to utilize a passive keyless entry (PKE) system.
What You Don't See: The LT1's engine noise was made quieter by changing to a composite valve cover instead of the earlier metal covers and insulating it better from the rest of the engine. Also, the exhaust-valve closing velocity was reduced through camshaft lobe modification. Horsepower remained at 300, but torque increased another 10 lb-ft as a result of cam reconfiguration.