If you’ve ever wanted one of those C4 ZR-1s that was immediately parked as an investment, You are currently spoiled for choice!
Anyone trying to crown the most significant Corvette in history is in danger of earning a one-way ticket to Shutter Island. Even if you narrow your choices to road-going production models, the number of Corvettes that have completely altered the automotive landscape makes it nearly impossible to choose just one. An example that will undoubtedly find its name in this conversation is the C4 ZR-1; after all, what merits a crown more than a King?
When it hit showrooms for the 1990 model year, the car that earned the internal designation, The King of the Hill, caused an unprecedented frenzy. The ZR-1 was the most expensive Corvette in history, retailing for nearly double the base price of a regular coupe. Still, as the LT5-powered super ‘Vette represented America’s first world-class sportscar effort in two decades, dealerships were able to get just about anything that they asked for in return for the privilege of ownership. Naturally, a market as hot as the one surrounding the ZR-1 attracted the attention of investors. Instead of enjoying the finest driving machine produced by the US at that point, many people threw as much as $120,000 ($237,622.95 in 2020 dollars!) on the manager’s desk at their local Chevrolet dealership just to turn around and park it until the day that it could be flipped for a significant profit.
Every now and then, you’ll see one of these “investment” ZR-1s on eBay or at a Mecum auction, even though the market for a museum quality example is currently hovering right around their original MSRP (a far cry from the early-retirement that many were hoping for when they took delivery). These sales usually have one of three stories behind them 1. The owner is tired of waiting and cuts his/her losses, 2. The car has been passed on to an heir that is cashing in without any skin in the game, or 3. The seller needs cash now, and J.G. Wentworth was screening their calls.
However, if you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of owning a brand new 30-year-old sports car, you are in luck because you are currently flush with options, indicating that there might be a significant new factor causing long-time holders to finally move on. Being the supportive friends that we are, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best examples for your consideration.
Let’s get tropical for our first example out of Miami. This Bright Red specimen represents the most popular exterior color from the inaugural year of King of the Hill production as one of 1,565. It also owns the lowest odometer reading on this whole page, at a scant 61 miles and the highest asking price to match. Brickell Luxury Motors is asking a cool $96,000 to add this new-in-wrapper ZR-1 to your collection, plus an extra $995 dealer fee, a $139.95 filing fee, and a hilarious $1,195 fee to “recondition” this factory fresh used car!
Our French-Canadian readers are in luck because John Scotti Classic Cars has an even rarer beast on offer for nearly 50% off! It is one of the 124 Zs that wore Black for 1992. It has only traversed 1,365 miles since leaving Bowling Green, and it is listed at $51,995, “or best offer.” If you really had your heart set on red and the unique ’90 bodywork, JSCC has you covered on that front as well with this 2,230 mile, $49,678 example; that’s what we are talking aboot!
Next, we will take our party through the Gateway Arch to St. Charles, Missouri, for a look at a fetching Dark Red over Light Beige 1994 ZR-1, the first example with the upgraded power rating of 405 to make our list! It is also easily the rarest car that we’ve featured so far; the official registry says only 20 of the 448 ‘94s were ordered in Dark Red. This one checks in with 870 miles on the clock, and it can be yours for $58,995, including two tops, the VHS Tape, and its original window sticker and manuals.
The “which is better, the first or last year?” debate reared its head in our most recent This or That post (the poll is still sitting at 50/50 after more than 72 hours online!) and, with the top of the line C4, we would have to side with the last of the breed, even though we have already highlighted a few merits of the ’90 and there is something to be said for the ’93 40th Anniversary cars. If you are inclined to agree, boy, do we have some beauties for you! First up is a Torch Red/Light Beige ’95 courtesy of the alliterative Conte’s Corvettes’ Concours Collection! Its mileage is just barely higher than its production number, 182 to 140, respectively. You can take it home for $69,653.
Streetside Classics, the #1 consignment dealership in the US, raises the ante on some of the previous vehicles on our list at their Super Bowl (Tampa) showroom. Currently listed for $61,995, it is one of just 16 swan-song ZR-1s painted Dark Red Metallic. The odometer has only rolled over 832 times in the car’s entire existence, and while the VIN wasn’t given for our last ’95, this one was the 58th example off the production line. If you are interested in such things, that puts it firmly in “only left-side” Dunn head territory.
Streetside continues to bring their A-Game in Fort Worth with a slightly higher mileage final-year example (2,097, gasp!) that would be your author’s choice of the bunch. The ’95 Z wearing VIN 80 gives Torch Red an encore appearance on our list, but it separates itself with my all-time favorite Corvette interior, C4 Torch Red leather (with the new-for ‘94 Sport Seats). It also comes with the added prominence of a Top Flight, 99.6 NCRS score. SSC has it priced at $69,995, but because of the sheer size of their dealership network, they are able to offer financing of up to 144 months (12 years!), so your monthly payment could be quite reasonable! If you pick up this gorgeous ZR-1, remember that I spell my last name with an “O” when you are filling out your testament!
If you are looking to spend new C8 money on a C4 but want something that distinguishes itself a bit more visually, RK Motors in Charlotte has your huckleberry. It is Grand Sport number 140 out of the run of 1,000. It is one of just 217 of those that were fitted with the same magnificent red interior as the ZR-1 above. 140 has but 2,211 miles, comes with an impressive mound of documentation, including its own VHS tape and commemorative pens, and is priced $95 under the last ZR-1 at $69,900.
Pick your poison, Corvette Nation; you really can’t go wrong with any of these investment-grade fourth-generation Corvettes. Be warned, though, once you are re-acquainted with the tremendously communicative hydraulic-steering and that sweet six-speed manual transmission, the temptation to put on the miles that these “Corvettes from Hell” deserved all along will become an ever-present element of your life!
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