- Bright Red/Gray
- 1,424 original miles
- Unmodified survivor
- OHC LT5 V8
- ZF 6-speed transmission
- Fully documented
The legendary ZR-1. Even today where the base Corvette makes more horsepower, the 1990-1995 ZR-1 holds a special place in any Corvette fan's heart, and it's entirely because of the amazing LT5 engine under the hood. With 32 valves, it feels like no other small block in history, and the sound it makes is like ripping silk. With vast untapped power potential, it is a durable powerplant that often lasts 100,000 miles before needing any major service. Of course, there are very few ZR-1s approaching that limit, as they have been cherished toys practically since day one, and examples like this 1424-mile original piece are still out there. Most experts agree that these cars have already bottomed out in terms of value, and are now on their way up, rightfully taking their place among the great Corvettes of history. The day is likely not far off when well-preserved, low-mileage ZR-1s will be attracting the same kind of smart buyers as the legendary split window coupes, the L89 big blocks, and the early 6-cylinder roadsters.
We'll dispense with the history lesson, since you can look through our archives at the other low-mileage ZR-1s we've offered and get the full story—or more likely, you already know the whole story by heart. The story on this one is its incredible preservation, low mileage, and interesting ownership history, and I'll tell you all about it.
In 1990, the paint was code 81U, also known simply as Bright Red. It was by far the most popular ZR-1 color that year, accounting for more than half of the year's 3032 cars produced. But honestly, is there any better color on a C4? The red accentuates the long, low profile, and it is instantly recognizable by almost anyone on the street. Few people are willing to tangle with a bright red Corvette, then or now. Of course, with just 1424 miles, there's no road rash or damage, and the finish has been rubbed and waxed so often that it's probably better than new in most ways you can measure. GM knew these early ZR-1s were a make-or-break proposition, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the finish was given more care at the factory than your usual Corvette paint job. It truly does look worthy of a price tag roughly twice that of a standard 'Vette.
The preservation on this one extends to the trim, too. While the black rubber and other pieces tended to get chalky when exposed to the sun, the emblems and sills on this one are still dark and rich with no fading at all. The glass is crystal clear and unlike many of its brothers, this one is showing no delamination at the top of the windshield, which is a common issue with these cars. Even the wipers appear to have never been used. It goes without saying that everything is original, including things like the headlights and even the tail light bulbs, which have probably only been on for a total of a few minutes over the past 21 years. You'll note that this is a two top car, and includes both the body-colored hardtop and the smoked glass version.
The whirring hunk of aluminum under the hood is magnificently presented and remains 100% original, right down to the spark plugs. Perfect storage conditions mean that there's no corrosion on any of the bare metal components (and there are quite a few on a ZR-1), and all the original hoses and belts remain in exceptionally good condition for their age. The car has been properly maintained throughout its life, and there are undoubtedly replacement fluids found throughout, but otherwise it is as the factory assembled it. Spark plug wires, hose clamps, the air filter, and even the decals throughout the engine bay look like they just came down the assembly line. If you've been looking for a time capsule ZR-1, you've found it.
The only transmission available with the LT5 is, of course, the ZF 6-speed. Working through the original clutch, it still offers the pesky skip-shift feature, which was often the first thing a new owner disabled upon getting his Corvette home from the dealer. The floors are immaculate, the shocks still shiny and with no signs of leaking, and the original exhaust system is tight without any indication that it has rusted from within due to inactivity. Those are the original brake rotors and probably even the original brake pads, too! The 17-inch alloy wheels were unique to the ZR-1, with 17x9s up front and massive 17x11s out back wearing their original 275/40/17 front and 315/35/17 rear Goodyear Gatorback tires which were the biggest tires you could buy in 1990. Even the balancing marks on the tire sidewalls are still faintly visible.
Preservation is key to any interior, and the gray leather in this one looks factory fresh. With the way GM stitched the Corvette's seats, it's hard to say if there are any wrinkles in the leather that are from wear, but I'm guessing not. Unless someone sat in the car making VROOM VROOM noises all the time, the seats are probably virtually new inside and out. There's no sign of dryness or cracking, either, and everything works as it should. No matting on the carpets mean that it has had few visitors, and there's no dirt and definitely no moisture ever on the floors—in fact, the passenger's side still has the protective plastic covering from the factory. The combination of digital and analog gauges still looks cool today, and they all read correctly, and the high-end stereo system still sounds great.
Documentation is impressive, and this is where this car's special ownership history becomes important. The original owner was Drew Lewis, also known as Andrew Lindsay Lewis, Jr., the seventh United States Secretary of Transportation. He was appointed by President Reagan, and served only until 1983, but it's clear that he was a car guy to the core and knew a special car when he saw it. He was one of the first guys in line to buy the new ZR-1 when it hit the streets, and saved every shred of documentation he could. We have the original owner's manuals, of course, as well as the complete ZR-1 “pizza box” with all the perks ZR-1 owners received, including the original video. There's also an original pre-inspection checklist, original order form, purchase agreement, tire changing instruction sheet, and even the music sampler cassette tape for the entertainment system. The car also include a big pile of receipts for routine maintenance throughout the car's life, so it's ready to drive right now if that's what you choose to do with your new ZR-1.
The appeal of this ZR-1 today isn't so much about performance (which is impressive), but more about preservation. There are fewer and fewer low mile cars available all the time, because once people get a taste of the LT5's performance, it's awfully hard to resist driving the car. For the true Corvette investor, a car like this is a great find and a worthy addition to a high-end collection. They'll tend to be worth more than the asking price as long as they're properly maintained, and few things are as thrilling to an enthusiast than a sparkling, factory-fresh car with all the right paperwork. This one is for real. Call today!
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What Customers Are Saying
First I would like to say that the staff at RK Motors were very professional and courteous. I was very impressed with the write-up and the details that were presented on this car. The photo shoot was amazing and the video was outstanding. Tony Klein, the consignment manager was amazing to work with. Tony always answered all of my questions within a timely manner. I was impressed with the time frame in which my vehicle was sold. I would and have recommended RK Motors to all of my car enthusiasts. Thank You RK Motors for a great job!