Most casual observers wouldn’t think this red-on-red 1990 Corvette was anything extra special.
But they’d be mighty wrong.
Because this Corvette not only marked the return of the ZR-1 after a 28-year absence, it also has the distinction of having been driven just 92 miles over the past 30 years!
This “King of the Hill” Corvette, as it was quickly dubbed back in the day, is currently available for sale at MBP Motorcars in Owensville, Ohio at a price not listed on the dealer’s website.
With the red leather seats still wrapped in the shipping plastic, the window sticker still on the glass, and the original tires still in place, it likely won’t be cheap.
Of course, that would be only fitting since the 1990 ZR-1 stickered for just over $60,000 when it was brand new, the most expensive vehicle Chevy produced that year. Just 3,032 ZR-1s were built that first year, with the option adding a hefty $27,016 to the base price of $31,979.
The ZR-1, of course, is legendary for its Lotus-Chevrolet engine with four overhead cams and 32 valves, capable of producing a then unheard-of 375 horsepower and 0 to 60 times of 4.9 seconds. The engines were built by Mercury Marine in Oklahoma, then shipped to Bowling Green for installation on the assembly line.
As Road & Track reported three decades ago: “…no other engine in the world has the LT5’s two-phase induction system that makes the Chevy 32-valver two powerplants in one: a tractable, fuel-efficient, around-town workhorse; and a gut-wrenching, full-on track star.”
This one is equipped with a ZF 6-speed manual transmission unique to the ZR-1, performance handling package, limited slip 3.42 gears, power driver and passenger seats, power steering / windows/ door locks, air conditioning, selective ride and handling package, dual removable roof panels, solar glass, and Delco Bose Gold Series Music System with CD and cassette player, among other options.
Of course, the ZR-1 also has a wider body than the base car to allow for Goodyear Z-rated P315/35ZR17 tires on 11-inch wide rear rims and also debuted a new design for the rear bumper that quickly made it to the base car the next year, making the ZR-1 appear virtually the same as a base model to an uninformed observer, a decision that perhaps doomed the engine package to eventual extinction in 1995 because if you’re paying that much for a Corvette, wouldn’t you want to look special a la the ZR1 of the C7 last year?
The new owner will receive all factory documentation, and the car is said to have fresh fluids and a new battery. With a complete professional detail just completed, it’s ready to roll …. right into a museum or into the garage of a serious collector who likely will never drive it.
A sad fate for such a mighty performer perhaps, but at the same time it’s nice to know that an original example like this will always be around to show folks what a ZR-1 looked like “back in the day.”
Ironically, Road & Track seemed to foreshadow the fate of this particular ZR-1 in that 31-year-old article, noting: “Most early ZR-1s will probably become collector cars, bought at inflated prices and traded at even higher ones. A pity, because if ever there was a car that begged to be driven, and driven hard, this is it.”
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