The “King of the Hill” Corvette: The ZR-1 equipped C4 Corvette. We found this red-over-red 1990 example on Craigslist in Ocean City, Maryland where the private seller has his car listed for $17, 500. Based on the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool, the seller has his special Corvette priced $1,700 below the #3 “Good” level of $19,200.
Shortly after parent GM purchased Group Lotus, the Corvette team approached the company for help with developing a C4 version of the ‘Vette that could be billed as the world’s fastest production car. Internally, the project became known as the “King of the Hill” Corvette. Lotus answered the challenge with the LT5: an aluminum-block 5.7 liter V8 with the same bore centers as the L98, however, it was equipped with four overhead camshafts and 32 valves that produced 375 horsepower. To handle the extra power, the Corvette team also worked with Lotus to modify the C4’s suspension and transmission accordingly. The result was a Corvette capable of providing solid numbers that remain impressive even by modern standards. Road & Track magazine’s original test of the car found a 0–60 mph acceleration time of 4.9 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 13.4 seconds, a braking distance of 132 ft from 60 mph, and 233 ft from 80 mph along with skidpad acceleration of 0.94 g. The car’s tested top speed by the magazine amounted to 179 mph.
Unfortunately, the high cost of subcontracting the LT5 engine production to boating supplier Mercury Marine combined with the other performance goodies created a ZR1 performance package that doubled the cost of a standard Corvette. This combined with very little styling differentiation between the base and ZR-1 equipped Corvettes (particularly the 1991-1995 versions) made this a tough sell for consumers and consequently only 6,939 ZR-1 models were manufactured over the six-year period.
The owner of this 52K mile 1990 ZR-1 states that the engine has been powder coated silver with red lettering during a recent service. We like the look as it gives the exposed engine bay a very detailed look. The seller reports that recent service includes changing the injectors, porting the heads, and a tune-up and states that the red exterior paint, interior, rims, and tires all in good to very good condition. This ZR-1 comes with both painted and glass tops that the seller states are in great condition. As shown in the pictures, seats show very little wear.
The seller states that everything on his ZR-1 works except the cruise control, so you’ll need to determine the cost of fixing that to see whether he has already factored that into his asking price. If you’re going to buy a C4 Corvette why not go for a “King of the Hill” version? Good luck with the purchase!