A ZR1 coupe, one of the rarest Corvettes ever produced, will cross the block in Houston at Mecum’s three day auction April 10th through 12th. The 1972 Corvette ZR1 is one of only twenty produced and one of less than ten actual numbers matching production cars known to exist.
The Elkhart Green with saddle interior award winner is fully documented and has two tank stickers and is part of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection. With only 16,300 miles the car has the matching numbers LT1 engine, M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed transmission, J56 and F41 heavy duty brakes and suspension. It will cross the block on Friday, April 11, at Houston’s Reliant Center.
Only 53 ZR1’s were produced during their three year production run from 1970 through 1972 making these models one of the rarest of all Corvettes. There were 25 produced in 1970, only 8 in 1971 and twenty in 1972.
To illustrate the rarity of the C3 ZR1 some of the most sought after Corvettes are the vaunted L88s produced from 1967 through 1969 of which 216 were produced. Like the L88 equipped cars the ZR1’s were essentially built for the race track except with the lighter weight, high revving 350 cubic inch LT1 engine rather than the 427 cubic inch engine found in the L88 equipped cars. Since the small block 370 HP LT1 was so much lighter than the big block 427, the performance of the ZR1 was close to the 550+ HP L88. The ZR1’s were named for Zora Arkus Duntov, chief engineer of the Corvette and high performance advocate. It is believed that the ZR1 stood for “Zora Racer 1”.
Currently the C3 ZR1’s may be one of the best investments in Corvettes going forward due to their outstanding performance, rarity and drivability. Recently L88 Corvettes have brought between $500K and $3.85M at auction; two world’s records were set last year on 1967 L88’s selling for $3.53M and $3.85M. In January at Barrett-Jackson a 1968 L88 was sold for $880K and a 1972 ZR2, virtually a ZR1 with a 454 cubic inch big block, sold for $495K.
Now there is no doubt that big block Corvettes hold a special allure, especially the L88’s and L89’s but based on the rarity and race track performance capabilities of the ZR1 prices below $200K represent a relative bargain. And that is where most recent prices have been.
Though a number 1 condition 1970 ZR1 sold for $220K at the same Barrett-Jackson action, most sold prices over the past few years have been below $200K. In 2012 Mecum sold two 1972 ZR1’s one in Kissimmee that was also Elkhart Green that hammered for $130K and another in Indianapolis which brought $115K. And this past January in Kissimmee Mecum sold a 1970 ZR1 convertible for $130K. If the Corvette market remains strong going forward prices of ZR1’s approaching $300K would not be surprising. Though in the foreseeable future the ZR1 will never be as valuable as an L88, even though the ZR1 is rarer, but the upside investment potential of the ZR1 is extremely strong. As the Corvette enthusiast’s and collector’s average age continues to drop the stigma of the 350 small blocks will fade away and the resulting price of the C3 ZR1 will continue to appreciate.
This important Corvette will join several other Corvettes, including the 1963 “Bunkie” Knudsen styling Corvette and the 1967 rare survivor of Don McNamara with less than 3K miles, at Mecum’s upcoming Houston auction.
You can review all of the consignments on Mecum’s website at www.mecum.com.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at revenantrt.blogspot.com
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