The Best Survivor I’ve Seen: 1990 Corvette ZR1

As the resident C2, C3 & C6 Corvette fan, the C4 is generally not my favorite version of America’s sports car. However, there’s one exception to that rule — the mighty ZR1, powered by the magnificent four cam, 32 valve V8 massaged by Lotus and lovingly built by Mercury Marine. And this ZR1 is in truly exceptional condition! It’s up for sale here on eBay, where the buy it now is $25,900 but you are invited to make an offer. This beautiful survivor is located in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Just look at that glistening red paint — it’s hard to believe this is original, but it is. The odometer is showing 18,538 miles and I think in this case, for once, there is no doubting that it’s correct. The car has been kept in a garage under a cover for it’s entire life apart from those miles and has been serviced by a Corvette specialist. We’re told it’s never even been driven in the rain!

You are correct if you spot that this is not the stock exhaust, it’s a Corsa exhaust that is attached to stainless steel headers. I can’t really fault the owner for that mild modification. I’ll bet it sounds great!

What a gorgeous interior! I don’t remember C4 interiors looking this nice, but I don’t think there were that many (if any) ZR1 interior changes from a standard C4. The radio has been replaced but the original is included. Again, not an upgrade I’m going to fault the seller for.

And here is that beautiful engine. 405 375 horsepower, 340 ft-lbs of torque, and revving like no previous production Chevrolet V8! I know I’d love to own this car — wouldn’t you?

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Comments

  1. Flmikey

    I think 25k is a bargain…wish I was in the market…you won’t lose a dime on this one…..

    • Patrick Shanahan

      A local ad has a 90 or ’91 with 25k miles for $25K. I suspect that’s what they’re going for.Someone lost their ass if they bought one for an investment…Another thing; when I insured my ’94 Vette the first thing the insurance agent asked is if it was a ZR1. He said that would put the car in another ballpark.

  2. MH

    It’s an amazing car. I’d be happy to pay 25K all day for it. It would be hard not to drive this car. Prices are only going up on these hard to find cars.

  3. ES

    1990 has 375hp. I have #780.

    • Pa Tina

      So tell us what living with this car is like on a daily basis. I have seriously pursued two ZR-1s with the intention of purchasing but was never able to convince myself they were worth it in the long run. My biggest issue was the very limited audience for one if I had to sell it and the limited amount of parts and service support available. Thank you.

  4. Enzo

    Hard to find because no one is selling ;)

    Low mileage is a plus, but the colour is the highest produced colour….

    Decent price but you’re at the top end for a red on red for now.

    Saw a white 90 with an asking of 30k CAD. And a Red on Red with same mileage as this example for around 24k CAD.

    Blue, white, yellow and green are the hard to find colours.

    I’d start shopping in the Canadian market, USD has some serious buying power here. Discount is roughly 25-30%

  5. Joeinthousandoaks

    Stay away, not an easy car to sell. Impossible to pass smog in Cali or other smog states.

    • Pa Tina

      Do 1990’s still require a smog test? My 1984 in New York is exempt.

      • Marauder

        In California any car 1974 or newer requires a smog certificate (which requires a catylatic converter), period. It is not how old the car is, but what year it was built. I hate this law, personally!

    • carsofchaos

      Here in NJ the car would now quality for QQ (Historic) plates and be exempt from emissions tests.

  6. Gordon Moore

    How is this a barnfind.. just another crappy 90’s Vette..

    • ChevyTruckGuy

      Negative Nelly. Why can’t people keep their negative comments to themselves? Just because YOU don’t like, doesn’t mean others won’t like it.

      Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Gordon, our readers have consistently asked us to feature “survivor” cars as well, of which this is a very nice one.

      I’d also suggest that you should ride in or drive a ZR1 if you really feel that way. You might be surprised.

    • Mike Dettling

      Are you the Gordon Moore that owned a silver 89 Lincoln TC with OR plates GMM02?

      Like 1
      • Mike Dettling

        Gordon Moore, if it was indeed your Town Car, I absolutely enjoyed that car. (124k to 134k)

        Despite the OD being out, it’s gone everywhere without a hiccup. Ate gas and alternators. Reliable as sunrise.

        I drove it to the junkyard 2 summers ago after 11 years. Still a strong runner tucked away in the corner.

    • Bill

      Gordon, Having owned five Corvettes through the years, the most recent being a 2017 Stingray, I invite you to drive one. I bet it handles better than whatever you drive.

    • PAPERBKWRITER

      I own a ‘crappy ’90’s Vette” and love it. To each their own.

      • Big Ed

        Not crappy. I have a 94 and I love the body and the visibility of the big tires. I didn’t like the looks of the C5 and C6, but do like the C7. I’ll stick with mine.

  7. ChevyTruckGuy

    She is a beauty! Wonder if the original exhaust is included, too?

    You’re correct, Jamie – no real differences on the interior, versus the standard Corvettes. Save for the redline shown on the tachometer, and the valet key. The Corvette’s interior was all-new for 1990.

    Slight correction, though. The LT5 was rated at 375hp, from 1990-1992. The 1993-1995 ZR-1s were rated at 405hp.

    Awesome find!

  8. Miguel

    It is a beautiful car. Anybody would be lucky to have it.

  9. Patrick S newport pagnell Staff

    Hagerstown,Md

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thanks, Aston fan (guessing from the name). I don’t know how I missed that one as I’ve been through there many times. Sometimes the brain works faster than the fingers I guess.

      • Patrick S newport pagnell Staff

        No prob, I used to live in that area.

  10. Big Ed

    I have a c4 1994 Callaway convertible that is rated at 435 hp. Great for then but the standard Corvette now has that much HP. Sounds great. Guess I’ll keep it for now.

    • John G.

      I started to write ‘I wonder what the weight difference is?’ then I realized – I can access the internet. I was surprised:
      * 1994 Corvette – 3239 lbs
      * 2017 Corvette – 3298 to 3582 lbs

      One of the few cars I have seen that hasn’t gotten totally overweight.

      Says zero to 60 is 4.3 seconds – in those days – that was fast. Also, in today’s world – that is still fast!!!

  11. Superdessucke

    I saw one of these recently at a “buy here pay here” used car lot on the west side of Chicago. It’s probably driving around the inner city somewhere on a set of 20 inch dubs and with a dealer-installed disable device underhood in case the new owner misses a payment. These cars just don’t get any dignity or respect do they?

  12. Larry Q

    Amazing finally a beautiful car that’s not rusted beyond recognition…and not a Mustang (although I do love Mustangs )

    • Mark Capozzelli

      Corvettes don’t rust.

  13. Joe M

    What an irritating place to put a parking brake! Owner got tired of tripping on it and parked it, hence the low miles. Otherwise nice car.

    • Bill

      The handle folds back down when the brake is engaged. Don’t know why the seller didn’t do that for this picture unless he pulled it up while standing outside the vehicle.

  14. Larry Q

    I was wondering about the parking brake too..this would be one heckuva drift car. Whheeee

  15. GSCHEVY

    I attended Barrett Jackson Las Vegas last weekend. They sold three ZR1’s. Two red 1991 models, each with under 11,000 miles, sold for $24K and $28K. A 1995 blue ZR1 sold for $35K.
    All of these cars were in mint condition. So yes, the dollars appear to be about right on this car.

  16. Paul R.

    Once the parking brake is set the handle can be moved back down and it will stay engaged.
    First C4 I owned, I though how in the world do I get out of it with the park brake engaged!

    • Dick Johnson

      The park brake really confused me. I was going 80 in a 55 when I thought that I was adjusting the seat heigth since I could barely see over the dash. I couldn’t understand why I was looking backwards from where I was formerly pointed.

      Thatz ok. It was a two lane road anyway .

  17. Richie

    The C4 ZR1 came out in 92 and the exterior of the 90 was different than this car look at the front and rear bumpers of a 84-90 compared to the 91-96 this car is a 1992 ZR1. I own a 90 C4 everything is the same except for the front and rear bumpers.

    • Pa Tina

      Wrong. The ZR-1 is different from the doors back. That was to accommodate the wide back tires.

  18. irocrobb

    I can clearly remember here in Canada when they were new and dealers were marking the prices up to $95,000 for them brand new.Not such a great investment. Looks like a bargain now.

    • Rev Rory

      Well the exchange was about 130% then too, so about right!

  19. Pa Tina

    Amazing car but there are just too many more reliable ways to buy 375-405 hp now with a much better chance of selling if you have a change of heart.

  20. PaulG

    Almost exactly one year ago I traded my ’91 white/red ZR-1 to a dealership for a new Colorado pick-up. I did enjoy the car for 3+ years, and received the same amount I paid for it…20K.
    These cars were so well built with the exception of the plastic interior. Motor pulls and pulls, easily a 170 mph car.

    • Pa Tina

      The phrase “Life begins at 180” was applied to the LT-5 engine.

  21. John G.

    I have a friend who has a ZR-1 that I thought he said was a 1990. However, to the right of the shifter where this car has a blank plate, his has an engraved plate that says something like ZR-1, displays the torque, displays the HP, and I think even the 0-60 time and top speed.

    Is that plaque something the previous owner added? Was done on later models?

    I agree with most here, $25K seems pretty reasonable for an 18K mile ZR-1 in this kind of condition.

    • Pa Tina

      You can buy the plaque from any Corvette catalog.

      • John G.

        I e-mailed my friend and he told me that. He said a lot of people did it so I would say it is ‘period correct’ if not original!

        Think how sad, or cool, a plaque like that could look on all cars:
        * Fiat 500 – 100HP, 80 lbs torque, 0-60 – sometimes, etc.
        * Veyron – 1003 HP, 2 berzillion lbs of torque, 0-60 – fast

        All depends on the car how cool that plaque would be…:-)

  22. Joel S.

    1990 is the first year and the only year with a unique body, to the uninformed, with different rear end treatment from the base Vette. All 90-95 ZR-1 cars are wider from mid door back. 315 sized rear tires and center mount high brake light.

    Interior difference’s include the 8kids tach and power “valet” key at the bottom of the radio stack.

    Market, for fairly priced cars, always exists. I just picked up 90 #277 with 11,5xx miles for quite a bit less. Hopefully the hobby figures this out, but until then I plan to enjoy mine.

    Yes today’s cars have more power and might be faster, but these ZR-1s are 22 to 27 years old. So please remember to compare apples to apples and they still got close to 27 mpg on the highway. Not a bad way to have some reasonably inexpensive fun in this owner”s opinion.

  23. RP

    It’s a nice looking ride, and being a ZR-1 helps, but I’m going to keep my C5 Lingenfelter, thank you.

  24. John G.

    And let’s not forget… Any car where the hood opens towards the front is automatically cool… ☺

  25. JC Williams

    I’ve got a 1991 turquoise metallic all stock with 65,000 miles on it and it still feel like I just bought it. I’m a Corvette fan regardless what year it was born.

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