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Subtle Supercar: 13k Mile 1991 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

Upon its release, the C4 Corvette faced criticism from some quarters for lackluster performance. This was an era when manufacturers were still grappling with emission regulations, but Chevrolet rode to the rescue with the ZR-1 in 1990. It recaptured lost ground, but the technology and development required meant the gains came at some cost to potential buyers. This 1991 ZR-1 is a gem with only 13,000 miles on the clock. The seller claims it features a rare paint and trim combination, guaranteeing that it will be more than its incredible performance that will turn heads. They have listed the Corvette here on eBay in Belvidere, New Jersey. Their BIN is $36,500, with the option to make an offer.

Designers developed the C4 Corvette from a clean sheet of paper, but some mechanical components were carried across from its predecessor. The body carried styling cues from the iconic C3, although the new generation was smaller and significantly lighter. The original owner ordered this car in Code 41 Black, with the seller claiming that only 553 ZR-1s from that model year wear that shade. I can’t locate verifying information, but the claim seems plausible since only 3.909 buyers selected it across all Corvette variants. One of the drawbacks of the color reveals itself when photographed because different light sources can create the illusion of imperfections. That appears to be the case with this classic because I can’t spot anything in the listing images that I am prepared to classify as a genuine fault. The panels are free from defects, and the underside is free from rust and other issues. The original owner upgraded the colored one-piece removable roof panel with two-piece Bronze glass, adding a classy touch. The ZR-1 rides on its model-specific 17″ aluminum wheels that show no evidence of stains or physical damage.

Buyers ordering a 1991 Corvette received the company’s venerable 5.7-liter V8, producing 245hp and 345 ft/lbs of torque. This delivered a 14.3-second ¼-mile ET under ideal circumstances, with the small-block running out of breath at 157mph. However, some buyers wanted more and were willing to pay dearly for the privilege. General Motors had recently purchased the Lotus Group, an organization with a solid history of sports car and performance engine development. Lotus was tasked with producing a powerplant befitting the Corvette’s performance heritage, and it delivered! The engine retained the same capacity as its more sedate sibling but was a quad-cam aluminum-alloy V8 with fuel injection and 32 valves. The new powerplant produced 375hp and 370 ft/lbs of torque. It seemed plain sailing, but this motor presented Chevrolet with a new challenge. General Motors didn’t possess the expertise to produce high-performance aluminum powerplants, contracting Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to hand-assemble each unit. The ZR-1 option also brought significant upgrades to the suspension and brakes and could only be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission. Considering the complex process of bringing the ZR-1 to fruition, it is unsurprising that it added $31,683 to the C4’s sticker price of $32,455. Surprisingly, despite effectively doubling the vehicle’s price, 2,044 buyers ticked that box on the Order Form. The promise of vastly improved performance was the lure, and with a ¼-mile ET of 13.1 seconds and a top speed of 180mph, the ZR-1 delivered. The seller purchased this Corvette from an estate, confirming a few relevant details for potential buyers to consider. The odometer shows 13,000 original miles, with the included documentation dating back to Day One ensuring this is genuine. The previous owner removed the original wheels and tires when the car had covered 1,000 miles, and these are now back on the car for the buyer. I would probably swap them out again for regular driving because I am unsure whether I would trust aged rubber at freeway speed. The ‘Vette runs and drives, but a lack of activity since 2003 means it requires a thorough inspection and tune-up before being considered genuinely roadworthy.

Opening this Corvette’s doors reveals the second piece of the puzzle that raises the question of its relative rarity. Buyers ordering a 1991 Corvette in Black could choose between Blue, Black, Gray, Red, or Saddle interior trim. Some were more popular than others, but the seller claims that teaming Black with Saddle leather is highly unusual. They don’t supply specific figures to back their statement, and I haven’t found any during a relatively brief search. I hope our readers can enlighten me because I am always happy to learn. The interior presentation is virtually flawless, befitting a car with 13,000 miles on the clock. The leather looks supple and inviting, with no visible wear on the outer seat edges. Pale carpet is prone to stains and other issues, but there are no problems visible in the supplied photos. The dash is spotless, and there are no aftermarket additions. However, who needs to add anything when we assess what this ZR-1 brings to the table? It features a driver’s airbag, climate-control air conditioning, power windows, power locks, six-way power seats, power mirrors, cruise control, side and rear defoggers, a leather-wrapped wheel, and a premium Bose stereo with an AM/FM radio and both a CD and cassette player.

The 1991 ZR-1 package added nearly 100% to the sticker price of the standard Corvette, and that trend continues when we compare potential values in the current market. Buyers can expect to pay approximately twice as much for a ZR-1 as they will for its less potent sibling. The seller’s BIN figure is at the top end but is lower than what Hagerty considers appropriate for a #2 example. However, recent sales results are a more accurate guide. They suggest the price is competitive for a ZR-1 with such a low odometer reading. I think it will find a new home, and the growing number of people watching the listing could indicate it will happen pretty soon. Do you think the seller will achieve their BIN, or will compromise be the order of the day?


  1. Avatar photo timothy r herrod

    Back in the day 375 hp was really something even with the ungodly high price tag. Today meh. Wander what 63,000 would be in todays dollars

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo William "Bill" Hartz Member

      It would be nearly $140,000 today.

      Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Bud Lee

    This car needs gold wheels to match the interior. I know they weren’t an option, I just think it would look better. I think this car is worth the asking price.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Smokey Smokerson

      100% worth the asking price. I’ve mentioned it many times on a lot of these articles, my son is totally into mid 90s Supras, which were brought to the US to compete with the C4 Vette. It was a total failure for Toyota. A 200 hp NA variant are going for $50k all day everyday. Put the turbo engine in it, $80k, have a Supra that started life as a turbo car, it’s over $100k.

      Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Dan

    If you have a place to store this beauty and the means to maintain it, go for it. The ZR-1 is easily the most desirable C4 and they’re starting to get their due with collectors. I’m surprised the seller isn’t asking more than $40k for this, given the mileage and documentation.

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo Donzidon

    I had a 91 ZR1 red on red. Bought it from the orig owner in 1994 and sold it in 1999. That was a fun car to drive and own. 375hp was a big deal back then, so was a 4 cam engine you could rev to 7k rpm. New this car was 63k which in todays dollars was 142k lol I think i paid 35k for it, drive it 4 years and sold it for 35k so all in all not bad for me. The orig owner who paid 63k for it might think differently lol

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo Stanley Williams

    Weight is enemy of hp. I’m quite sure this 375hp “meh” ‘Vette would still show tail lights to a number of modern turbo 4’s and 6’s.

    Like 0

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