17,984 Miles (29k KMS) - Two Owners From New!
5.7L - Quad Cam V8 - 375 hp with 6 Speed Manual Transmission
Seller's Ask: $42,000 CAD (Approx. $32k USD)
America's Sports Car... the Chevrolet Corvette had fallen from grace and was laboring in the marketplace with diminished sales as a result of being battered and bruised by brutal safety and emissions regulations. The Corvette had lost its edge and it was now overweight and seriously underpowered, a mere shadow of its glorious past,. Something simply had to be done to resurrect the breed.!
Enter the indomitable 1990 Corvette ZR-1 a uniquely special Corvette variant co-developed with Lotus Cars of F1 Fame, a company that General Motors had jumped at the chance to purchased in 1986, just prior to starting design and development on the ZR-1 cars. The Lotus Team brought a very different prospective and a very special blend of engineering talent to the task of building what was to be a world class sports car, capable of reigning over near anything else available from the dominant players of its day.
It was built to be the indomitable 'KING OF THE HILL' and the Corvette ZR-1 proved itself to be exactly that!
Surprisingly the scions at GM gave the outsiders from Lotus a relatively free hand in bringing the Corvette name back to glory and over a three year development period every aspect of the 'Base' Corvette was poked and prodded, modified and redesigned to ensure that the final product. the first ZR-1 would win fast favor, while opening wallets by turning Hearts and Minds a flutter!
GM's plan worked big time and it wasn't long before the boys with the bucks were lining up ready to pay near whatever it took to get their hands on their very own - King Of The Hill.
The hero car of the early 90's era, the must have for the Fast and Furious Crown of the day, the ZR-1 was Factory Priced at near twice that of a Base 1990 Corvette. It proved near impossible to get your hands on one, in the early days of production, unless you were willing to grease the palm of your local Chevy Dealer with many of these original ZR-1s selling for $100,000 USD +, with Dealer's Markups included.
Just 3032 1990 ZR-1s were produced and although ZR-1 production continued into 1995, less than 7000 ZR-1s in total left the factory floor, throughout all their years of production. The industry was in transition with a market downturn occurring shortly after the initial introduction in 1990, followed by a big wave of fresh automotive trinkets from both Europe and Japan that all combined worked to diminish the market for the the Chevy's ZR-1.
The ZR-1 is a Corvette like no other, powered by the first and only Twin Over Head Cam 32 Valve, All Aluminum V8 ever to power any Corvette, that was until the development of the 2022 C8 - Z06. The original ZR-1's Lotus Designed, all aluminum Quad Cam was clearly the star of the show, but there was far more going on under the skin of the ZR-1 than the 375hp produced by this engine. Enhancements were everywhere, with drivetrain, suspension, brakes, wheels and tires along with the body's unique Wide Ass Rear End, all of which was changed out to better handle the new found power and speed available to the ZR-1's driver.
It had been a very long time since the words 'World Class' and Corvette could be used in the same sentence, but the ZR-1 changed all that, and now 32 years later the ZR-1 remains, for those in the know, the one and only ''King Of The Hill'!
The Pro's @ Hagerty - Jason Cammisa's Take on the ZR-1
When you play with cars a lot, as we do, it would sometimes seem that everyone and their brother has or wants what everyone else has, and near every corner you turn another look alike shows itself. That is not the fate of the ZR-1 owner as although the Corvette remains one of the best selling sports cars of all time, the oh so special ZR-1's edition from the 90's is by no means common. With just under 7000 of them produced over it's 5 year long production run, your chances of coming across another ZR-1, while out on your fun run, is shockingly small. Yes the ZR-1 can be confused with the far more common C4 Corvettes by the unknowing, but your fellow Vette enthusiast knows and understands the important nuances that set the ZR-1 apart from the rest of the Corvette lineup.
Built To Beat The World
General Motors reached across the globe and purchased what was at the time one of the preeminent Automotive R&D powerhouses, long known for their success in Formula 1 Racing and sports car development. Once onside GM swiftly put the engineering team at Lotus Cars on the ZR-1 Project. This was a whole different way of doing business for GM and their in house Corvette Group. It took some time, but everyone needed and wanted a win and as the car's development moved forward the excitement began to build, as all sides soon knew they had a world class sports car in the making.
Though based off the standard C4 Corvette, with which it shares some of its' parts, many aspects of the car required significant reengineering to address the power provided by its 375hp Engine, which generated a 50% increase in power over the base C4's V8. The engine was only the start as Lotus had long been known as champions of chassis engineering and all involved wanted the ZR-1 to be far more than a go fast in a straight line car.
In the end the ZR-1 was no one trick pony, it did it all well... with 0-60s, Top Speeds, Handling and Braking prowess that could beat the best that the automotive world, at that time, had to offer. Yes the ZR-1 was unexpectedly expensive for a Corvette, but it was capable of outperforming most of the era's exotics, including cars that were priced well into the stratosphere.
Times Are Changing
Like so many cars out of the 90's the Corvette ZR-1 was somewhat forgotten to time and often ignored by automotive enthusiast focused elsewhere on performance cars from an earlier era, but that has now all changed and the once forgettable 90's has taken on a very strong following. Look at anything Fast & Fun out of the 90's lineup and you'll see that demand is way up with prices moving upstream quickly. The cars of the 90's have become hot commodities as the children of the 60's & 70's reach a certain age, that being when we all look to our past and fall back in love with what we couldn't acquire in our Teens and 20's. This is a very large market pool, with the financial means to now make their youthful dreams come true, and in recent years this cohort has rediscovered their enthusiasm for the fun/fast cars of their era.
Sure the 90's offered up some fabulous cars to pick from, but few if any make sense today when compared to the ZR-1.
The ZR-1 was always a bargain basement wonder, right from day one, as when new it had the chops to beat the worlds best sports and exotic cars at a near laughably low MSRP!
Rather shockingly the value equation offered by the ZR-1 today, when compared against it's contemporaries from this era, makes the ZR-1 s even more of a bargain than back when it was first introduced in 1990.
The now Classic ZR-1 remains a very fast and extremely competent sports car, and much like when it was new to the market, there is actually little in the Classic Marketplace that compares.... simply phenomenal performance, still handsome and purely analogue - a fun, fast and furious drive!
ZR-1s are presently in a phase of rediscovery and although values for these cars stagnated for a long period of time, they are now appreciating swiftly, but yet unlike so many of their era correct competitors the ZR-1s still have lots of room for continued value gains!
Get in quick as the ZR-1 is a fabulous find, yet it remains attainable without breaking the bank!.
This 1990 ZR-1 is on offer from it's private owner Roy, a long time enthusiasts, but not a guy that has actually owned too many car toys. Roy is a very busy professional builder/contractor who loves his Corvette, but has found that he just does hot have enough time to drive and fully enjoy the car.
Roy came to us at SportsCarLocate way back in 2011 and shared his dream to acquire a fine example of the car that championed his youthful desires... a Corvette ZR-1. Being a long time enthusiast for this unique model, Roy knew the car, the stories, the specs, the car's capabilities inside out, as no doubt like all of us silly enthusiast do, he likely recited them in his youthful dreams, imbedding the data deep in this personal memory bank.
Roy's excitement for the ZR-1 was contagious and in the end we were as excited as he was when the right example finally came into our view. And right it was....
A 1990 ZR-1, Virtually Original, One Owner, Garaged Kept, Dry Climate California Car with 14k Original Miles on the odometer and a pristine CarFax too!
Delicious in Black on Black Leather, and in impressive condition throughout, we quickly had the car transported to one of California's renown Corvette Specialist 'Corvette Mike' in Anaheim to complete a PPI prior to purchase. Once our due diligence was completed Roy made the decision to purchase the car. Shipped via an enclosed carrier right to his GTA home. Roy was on cloud nine when the car arrived and it proved to be the beautiful monster of a Corvette that had filled his dreams over the decades.
Roy has been a loving, respectful caretaker ever since, and the car has been kept out of the elements, always garaged, winter stored and regularly maintained. Roy has used the car every season for the past 11 years, but has clearly driven it sparingly given that he has added just 3000 miles to the odometer over his ownership period.
Today this ZR-1 is a long way from the norm with just under 18k original miles, while having spent far more of its life closeted away than it has in active service out on the road. That said the car is what we would describe as a 'Nice Driver Quality Example' not a show piece. It is a car that has been Fully Sorted Mechanically and remains capable of offering every measure of the mind altering performance these storied 'King Of The Hill' ZR-1's were known for when new, but it is also a car that lightly displays some of the expected patina that comes with time and usage.
The car is currently with it's owner, garaged and hidden away from the elements, while it awaits your careful consideration. Roy has had the car for the past eleven years yet still he relishes each and every drive, he doesn't have the time to get it out on the open road often, but when he does his ZR-1 takes him quickly back (and I do mine quick) to his youth with a grin from ear to ear and a right foot deep down on the accelerator pedal. This a car that not just demands your undivided attention, but a stallion of a car that screams for you to go ever faster.
GM's Corvette ZR-1 was not produced to please the 'Posers' as it was designed and built for 'The Fast & The Few', those true sports car enthusiasts that demanded world dominating power and performance. The ZR-1 was, and remains until this day, an ultimate expression of Pure Performance and a car that was responsible for returning the Corvette Brand back from where it had once been... at the Pinnacle of Automotive Performance.
Not unlike the current rebirth of the Corvette Brand with the Mid Engine C8 and the soon to be released, ultra potent, C8/Z06 the C4 ZR-1 provided GM with a world class performer capable of beating the best sports cars in the world, all at a price point that the competition could not come close to matching. Interestingly this now Classic C4 was powered by Corvette's first and only Four Cam 32Valve V8, that is until the introduction of the latest and greatest C8/Z06, which is coming to showrooms in a few weeks.
When sourced for Roy back in 2011 this ZR-1 had just 14k original miles on the odometer and although in great overall condition it wasn't long after its delivery that some issues came to light, first it was wearing it's original 1990 Era Goodyear Eagle Tires (still with the car). These of course needed to be replaced for safety reasons with modern era tire technology. In addition the engine was starting to run a little rough through the rev range, which lead to a full review of the fuel injection system and the replacement of all 16 Fuel Injectors, both primary and secondary.
Next came the exhaust system which was starting to show evidence of corrosion with Roy deciding to replace the full system with a Stainless Steel Borla Exhaust Package. Of course this exhaust system opened things up a touch, but the sound is warm and rich not uncomfortably loud or annoying at any speed.
The car starts and runs strong (a wee bit of an understatement), burns clean and is smoke free, idles without issue and revs without hesitation throughout the rev range. Clutch is light and easily modulated and the gearbox shifts smoothly in and out of gear with no evidence of unusual noise or snagging synchros.
The Power provided by the car's clearly healthy, Naturally Aspirated, Quad Cam V8 is instantly available and near locomotive like in nature... oh my you are going to love this thing!
The car tracks true and straight with no apparent tire wear issues to indicate misalignment problems. The suspension is firm as you would expect from any car of this era capable of an honest to goodness 175 mph with a 4.3 second to 60 mph along the way. That said the car is wonderfully balanced and surprisingly eager to eat any corner placed along its route. Braking is, not surprisingly, very impressive, no noise, not grabby and easy to modulate.
All systems including A/C are operative and the nicely installed aftermarket stereo provides good quality sound, while not looking out of place in digital dash pod. Note: as is the case with most of the original Bose Systems this car's original stereo was found to be unserviceable and Roy opened his wallet once again and invested in the fresh system.
The C4 ZR-1 was a world renowned hero car when new and it has remained throughout time as a well respected member of the Corvette Family, that said it is a car that is clearly the same as other Corvettes in so many ways and yet so very, very different, and because of this some of those less informed often fail to comprehend just how wonderfully unique and special the the ZR-1 cars are!
You don't have to be a rabid Corvette fan to love and respect the ZR-1 as this car was so far off the charts from what was and is the Base C4 Corvette that direct comparisons seem rather worthless.
The ZR-1 was so very special in its day, that although it has been often overlooked by those enthusiasts pushing market values higher, it is clearly just a matter of time before the enthusiast market comes to understand the unique importance and position that these ZR-1's rightfully hold in automotive history.
Values have been creeping higher through the past decade or so, but nothing in comparison to some of this car's far lesser 1990's era competitors.
All said this is a car that we feel you can buy, drive and enjoy without much in the way of risk to your initial investment, yet it is a model that we believe holds a strong potential for future value appreciation.
So if you are in the market for some very fast fun, take this opportunity to dig deeper and do a little research on the Corvette ZR-1.
We think that the model and this car in particular deserves your serious consideration! Is it perfection? Clearly not, as although it is an original, very low mileage example time has taken a touch of the bloom off the of the rose. All said we must suggest that this car could be quite easily taken to a much higher standard in the hands of anyone with the time and a skills to detail it correctly.
This is actually a very difficult to source example, desirable black on black, super low mileage, with all systems a go, yet priced not too far off the current bottom of the ZR-1 marketplace. Yes, there are a number of ZR-1 that you may find in the market at any given time, but look close as they will either be collection grade, extreme value examples or a lower or moderately priced, deferred maintenance cars in need of work.
The vehicles on offer through SportsCarSellers are for sale direct to you from their registered private owners. SportsCarLocate/SportsCarSellers is not vehicle dealer and we do not buy or sell vehicles, we instead provide our private clients location and marketing support services.