Red over red interior. 5.7-liter, 375-hp, DOHC V-8. Six-speed manual transmission. Just 300 miles on the odometer from new, has been stored and now sold by original owner. Exterior and interior in as-new condition. Equipped with air conditioning and removable roof panels – the only two options available. Full service just performed to prepare the car for use on the road.
I still remember seeing my first ZR-1 in the fiberglass. It was 1990 and I was 10 years old. Aesthetically, it didn’t look that different from my dad’s standard 245-hp C4 – new features were limited to square rear taillights, wider rear bodywork to conceal the 11-inch wide rear wheels, and a third brake light mounted high on the glass hatch. But that ZR-1 badge in the lower right corner of the rear bumper said it all. I was in awe.
I’d read all about the ZR-1 in the pages of AUTOMOBILE and Motor Trend; the pull-out poster from the latter was proudly displayed on my bedroom wall. I’d learned how GM had used its purchase of Lotus to turn the C4 into a world-beater; the legendary English firm dialed in the car’s braking and handling along with designing a new V-8 with the same 5.7-liter displacement as standard Corvettes but with four overhead cams, 32 valves, and 375 horsepower. With a $27,000 premium over the standard Corvette’s base price, the ZR-1 wasn’t inexpensive – nearly on par with Porsche’s 911 – but its 4.4-second 0 to 60 mph time and 180-mph top speed put performance on par with the some of the best Europe had to offer, Ferrari included. Of course, to get those numbers the driver had to turn a special key on the center console to performance mode. How cool was that?
The first owner of this ZR-1 clearly had tucked the car away in hopes of it becoming a collector’s item worth many multiples of its original $60,000-plus price. We’ve seen how that’s turned out, so maybe it’s time to start enjoying this example a little bit. Prices for all C4s will rise someday, but probably not enough to offset the loss of enjoyment the new owner could get by driving it.