Fire Survivor: 1990 Chevy Corvette ZR1

Corvette’s ZR1 is a monster performer and one of the better bargains on the used sportscar market today. This example is selling for the low price of just $12,500 (or $8,500 if only one bidder appears), but that cheap buy-in reflects the fact that this ZR1 has suffered an engine fire in the past. Whether the lingering effects of that damage are worth a bid is up to you. Find it here on eBay and located in Missouri. 

It’s a shame this ZR1 is so rough cosmetically, as the color combination is stunning. Forest green exterior with a butterscotch leather interior is a not a look for wallflowers, but the ZR1 was never about being quiet. The odd shift boot over the manual transmission appears to be trying to fool itself into thinking it’s an automatic, and combined with the powdercoated rims, removing these personal touches should be high on the list of the next owner.

More evidence of what happens when bored people with paint guns get their hands on a project car: why on earth is the intake manifold painted Kermit green with red lettering? Looking more like a tribute to the colors of Christmas than a tastefully modified engine shroud, this ZR1 truly has fallen on hard times. The damage under hood includes a wonky starter, leaking fuel rail, and “…some line on the suspension.” The hood paint is also blistered.

The seller claims the majority of the fire-related damage has already been fixed, but it’s clear there’s still some gremlins to chase. The personal customization touches are easily reversed, but the bigger risk is whether there are still electrical or component-based issues stemming from the fire that are yet undiagnosed. If you win it for the opening bid, this could be a deal; the Buy-It-Now will require some careful risk analysis.

Fast Finds


  1. RayT Member

    Found another ZR1 on eBay for just over twice as much. It’s a clean example, with a good service history, no reported underhood fire (the “line on the suspension” might well be part of the Selective Ride Control wiring; wouldn’t want to have to chase problems with that!) and no funky green paint on the engine.

    In this case, I’d rather pay the bigger sum in front for the nice one than pay to have all the questionable stuff repaired on this one.

    Of all the ‘Vettes I’ve ever driven, the ZR1 was surely the most memorable. If only because of the howl of that 4-cam V8, it would be my favorite.

    Like 1
  2. r.hernandez

    ?Did the ?riddler? Own this vette?

  3. PaulG

    Having owned a ’91 with less that 32K miles I can say that these are under-appreciated. You can find nice, low mileage examples for 20K. I’d run from this one…

  4. 86 Vette Convertible

    Other than the reference to the hood needing repainting due to damage, the other items seem to be a short list. Why wouldn’t someone do them so the car was running correctly if selling? Sorry but I suspect there’s more here than meets the eye.

  5. Mike Williams

    My favorite Corvette, it’s all about that 4 valve DOHC engine. Designed by Lotus and built my Mercuy, what a engine!

  6. Stu

    Even with a slathering of butter, it still looks like burnt toast to me.

  7. ccrvtt

    If it can be made to run reliably for less than $1,500 and the overly optimistic seller would take $8,000 for it you might be able to overlook the green paint on the engine (which actually looks pretty elegant in its factory silver), the stupid “LT5” sticker on the windshield, the painted rims, etc. and have a really fun ride. The paint doesn’t look too bad, but it looks like the seller took a damp rag and wiped all the dust. The louvered covers on the taillights need to go as does the goofy woodgrained dash panels. The seats look great and that alone saves $700 in repairs.

    Good luck finding fuel rail parts or injectors. When they’re running they’re awesome but engine parts are scarce.

    ZR1s are the pinnacle of C4 Corvettes and this could be a real fun one to own. Just not for $12,500 + everything that could be wrong with the engine.

  8. Supernova72

    Based on what others have said about the power plant I want to drive one of these. Engine paint is mysterious. You can do a lot with a rattle can I’ve found. Ha

  9. Tom Member

    I believe the phrase is “Hot Mess”. What is with the shifter? Who would do this to this car….starting with the neglect, the bad stickers, bald tires, shifter, mismatched paint colors…black, tan, green, red……too bad…..was a great car once….to far abused to gain my interest. Wow. Just wow….what a mess at every level. Wash the darn thing…..then photos.

    Where is the car located?……Misery. Oh, Missouri.

    As Bugs Bunny would say, looking into the camera with a sickened look on his face…. “Yeeeeesssccchhh!” ok, I’m done.

  10. jaymes

    better idea for use

  11. Pa Tina

    It’s not easy being green.

  12. Mark-A

    Got to admit that I actually really like the wheels as being in the U.K. I absolutely detest the “usual” polished alloy look that a lot of American cars seem to have fitted from the factory! All down to Opinions being like Bellybuttons meaning that everybody has one! (Bellybuttons can be swapped for most other Body parts too, but being a Family website I’ll NOT say the original option! 😉)

  13. marc lewis

    if posible i will fly into to see your corvette if so i need inofmy email is a person woulds be makeing a mastake if he dos not look at it first so itsterted email me

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