Corvette History

Select a year and a model to view the vast history of Corvettes.

Convertible 1989

Most of the publicity efforts focused on the 1989 Corvette were centered on the eagerly-awaited ZR-1 “super” model. However, the regular 1989 Corvette was also an improved car.
The 1989 Corvette came in Hatchback Coupe and Convertible models and the ragtop is the version that we’re profiling here. The sticker price for the open-air body style was $36,785 in standard equipment form. Of course, very few (if any) of the 9,749 convertibles built came without any extras. In fact, most were loaded with options and accessories. After all, by 1989, the Corvette had become a world class luxury sports car.
Your 1989 Corvette Convertible should have a VIN between 1G1YY3186K5100001 to 1G1YY3186K5126328. The first symbol 1 indicates the car was built in the U.S.A. The second symbol G indicates a GM product. The third symbol 1 indicates Chevrolet Motor Division vehicle. The fourth and fifth symbols YY indicate body type and series: YY=Corvette. The sixth symbol indicates body style and 3 indicates the two-door convertible GM body style 67. The seventh symbol indicates the restraint code: 1=Manual belts. The eighth symbol indicates engine: 8 indicates a 5.7-liter Tuned-Port-Injection (TPI) V-8 built by Chevrolet or GM of Canada. The ninth symbol is a check digit that varies from car to car. The 10th symbol indicates model year K for 1989. The 11th symbol indicates the assembly plant and is 5 for Bowling Green, Kentucky. The last six symbols indicate the sequential production number starting with 100001.
Now that you’ve verified your ‘Vette’s “matching numbers,” you may be interested to know that it’s perched on a 96.2-inch wheelbase and stretches 176.5 inches end to end. Only one engine was available for showroom versions of the ‘89 ‘Vette. As the VIN explanation indicates, it was based on the venerable Chevrolet 350-cid “small-block” V-8 with its 4.00 x 3.48-inch bore and stroke.
In the Corvette Convertible, the Tuned Port Injection engine was rated at 240 hp. Don’t argue with the Corvette Hatchback owner who tells you his car has a few more ponies. It’s possible he’s telling the truth. The horsepower rating was upped to 245 for hatchbacks using 3.07:1 rear axle. This was due to the fact that low-restriction mufflers were used only with this option combination. P275/40VR17 Goodyear Eagle GT were factory fitted to convertibles.
Stick shifted Corvettes had improved performance thanks to a new ZF six-speed manual gearbox with two overdrive ratios. To meet increasingly tightening fuel-economy standards, the ingenious ZF transmission was designed to incorporate a computer that sent a signal to prevent shifts from first to second gear unless the gas pedal hit the floor. Instead, a blocking pin forced the shifter directly into fourth gear for improved fuel economy during light-throttle operation.
Another new addition to the 1989 Corvette options list was a high-tech FX3 Delco-Bilstein Selective Ride Control system with a switch to select the desired degree of shock-absorber damping for touring, sport or competition driving. However, you could not add this to the Corvette Convertible. Only Hatchback coupes with a manual transmission and the Z51 Performance Handling package were available with the ride-control option.
One nice thing that the ’89 Corvette Convertible did get, for first time since 1975, was a removable fiberglass hardtop. It arrived late in the model year, so it is not factory-correct for all 1989s, in case you have concours judging in mind.
All Corvettes came in a choice of nine different exterior colors this year. Chevrolet also painted 33 cars in two non-standard colors. Six were done in Yellow and 27 were done in Artic Pearl. Interior trims came in six different color choices. A body-color convertible top was standard equipment for the Convertible. So was cloth upholstery in 1989.
The $25,895 Callaway Twin-Turbo engine package could again be ordered through specific Chevrolet dealers as regular production option B2K. Cars that received this package were sent from Bowling Green to the Callaway factory in Old Lyme, Connecticut to receive engine modifications and other upgrades. The 1988 Callaways had 382 hp and 562 lbs.-ft. of torque.
Chevrolet built 30 Corvette Challenge cars with standard engines in 1989. None were Corvette Convertibles, of course. These racing cars were shipped to Powell Development of America to receive race-modified engines and other competition modifications for the 1989 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Corvette Challenge racing series. At the end of the year, many of these cars had their original factory-numbered engines re-installed. Chevrolet also built 84 ZR-1 type 1989 Corvettes Hatchback Coupes for testing, but then announced on April 19 that the ZR-1’s introduction would be delayed until 1990.
A neat ’89 Corvette collectible usually available for a reasonable price is Chevrolet sales folder No. 4843 July 1988 which includes write ups on the Camaro, Corsica, Celebrity, Caprice, Beretta and Cavalier. When opened up and flipped over, the folder becomes an 8-panel poster showing the profile of a white 1989 Corvette. There is no copy describing the ‘Vette — only the beautiful photo.