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Modern Survivor: Low Mileage 1990 Corvette ZR1

I’m not a huge fan of Corvettes of this era, however I have to say the paint color is really flattering on this car. The wheels contrast nicely with the paint, and really give this car a more modern look. As always, the Corvette’s original roots can still be seen within the smooth body lines of this C4. According to the ad, only around 2,600 ZR1 Corvettes were made in 1990, making this a somewhat rare vehicle. This ZR1 has only racked up 28,000 miles since new and can be found here on Craigslist in Kentucky with an asking price of $19,900. Thanks to Pat L. for sending this one in! 

Although the interior of this car is in excellent shape, it certainly shows some use. Maybe this is a poor angle, but the leather looks almost faded in this picture. It is very clean, and some of the other interior pictures look better, but I would be worried that this is a hint of what condition the interior is really in. Hopefully, this is just a bad angle and it is as nice as it appears in the other photos. This car comes with both a glass and a painted top, just for that added variety. It even has working air conditioning!

Under the hood is a 375 horsepower Lotus-engineerd LT5 engine. While there are some similarities, this engine is not considered a part of the small-block Chevrolet family. The lovechild of Lotus and GM, this engine was found only in 1990-1995 Corvette ZR1s. While this engine has the same displacement, it isn’t exactly a 350. Like all ZR1s, this Corvette is equipped with a 6-speed manual. The seller has replaced the fuel injectors in this car, as evidently the originals are known for not being compatible with ethanol fuels. A new clutch was installed recently with only 400 miles on it.

This is one beautiful car, between the deep maroon color and the non-original ZR1 wheels this is quite the subtle eye-catcher. Though nearly $20,000 may seem a little steep right now, very few ZR1s were made in all years of production. If kept nice, this car will appreciate in value as a modern classic in coming years. Not to mention, purchasing a ZR1 is the easiest way to get your hands on an LT5! Would you hold onto this car an keep it nice and minty? Or would you buy it as a weekend driver?


  1. MH

    20K is a good price for a ZR1 with low miles. It will only go up in value if you keep the miles somewhat low. I would love to buy it, but I would drive it alot! Very nice rare car.

    Like 1
  2. Rock On Member

    With a few hour of detailing you could make this car look like new. Would be a fun fair weather ride.

    Like 1
  3. Sam Sharp

    I’d put a SBC in it…

    Like 1
  4. Sam Sharp

    Come to think of it, I have a 197? 305. This engine was “rebuilt” 5000 miles ago, according to the former owner. This engine is one of those ‘self machining’ Chevys. I found the oil filter with a lot of metal in it. The oil pump pickup was rather infested with metal as well.

    I got the engine out of a Corvette. The former owner said it ran fine after I showed it to him. Still, the question remains; why the 305?

    Like 0
    • craig m bryda

      305’s were the only motors available for the California market.

      Like 0
  5. Steve lowe

    I bought my 89 convertible two years ago with 27 500 miles for12000

    Like 0
  6. Sam Sharp

    Thanks Craig. I got to drive a T-bucket with the LT5. Visually and audibly beyond normal senses.

    Like 0
  7. Mike Williams

    I love these Mercury built LT5’s, Chevy should have stuck with this 4 cam 32 valve engine.

    Like 0
  8. Michael Proulx

    These year ZR1 cars still hold several top speed records , it can be googled , It’s like 175.mph for several thousand miles , these engines are very durable , the later models had reworked heads and made 405 HP.

    Like 0
  9. Ron G

    I love the C4 ZR1 and this is a great price, in the range of what they currently sell for, which is between 20-35k currently. Wish I had the cash to buy one. This one’s in nice shape, although I’d change the wheels back to the sawblades it would have come with. I live in Florida, so I’d be in this car any chance I’d get, even as rare as it is. 6,939 were built through the entire production run from 90-95, 3,049 in ’90, 2,044 in ’91, 502 in ’92 and less than 500 a year from 93-95. Really, I’d kind of want a later car, since the 93-95 models had 405 hp and the 94-95 cars had an updated interior, not to mention the increased rarity of the later cars.

    Like 0
  10. DG

    Wow, not too many clean, low mile ZR1s around. This may be the only C4 to achieve collector status. Maybe the Grand Sport as well, but that car is much more garish and less powerful than the ZR1. I prefer the ’90 with the original C4 styling to the refreshed ’91 and up.

    Like 0
  11. 86 Vette Convertible

    I had a chance to buy one last year for a little over 22K. Nice looking car and so is this one. One big issue to me was the engine. Very rare and no idea of parts availability. Personally I’m leery of unique engines and electronics. Pretty to look at, fun to drive till they break. Having never looked for parts for one, I don’t know how easy or hard it would be to find parts for it.

    Does look good though. It would be a shame not to drive it but every mile would hurt the value on this one.

    Like 0

    When the LT5 engine was introduced in the ’90 Corvette buyers were paying around 100k (30k over list)…I’m retired and when I thought about buying a used ZR1 my insurance man told me the premiums would be thru the roof, So, I settled for a clean garden variety’94 coupe…IMO this car would be great to bring to shows but not to do much street driving.

    Like 0
  13. Pa Tina

    Dark red metallic is pretty rare on 1990 ZR-1s if I am not mistaken. If I am mistaken I will be corrected pretty soon. It looks like a very nice ZR-1 and the price is right on the button. To hell with the miles on it- I would drive it every day. I still believe the rules have changed and keeping these types of cars in shape for the next owner is a fool’s game. There is a 1990 ZR-1 in the area with over 200,000 miles on it. The last time I saw it, it had two garbage cans of mulch in the luggage area. It might be worth $10,000 today, but the owner sure got his money’s worth as opposed to the folks who payed $100,000 to be the first kid on the block with a ZR-1 and then left it in the wrapper. What are they worth today? Drive ’em if ya gottem!

    Like 0
  14. HeadMaster1

    Parts are easy to get, and my insurance is very cheap…..I bought my 90 with 36k miles for a great deal and love the car. 90% of the car is off the shelf C4 Corvette, so cheap and easy. The LT5, other than injectors is nearly bullet-proof, and I hate to say it, but clutches seem to go away around 30k miles, which is crazy, but 375hp was a huge number in 1990. The BEST thing about these ZR1’s is that they run with a new C7 in a straight line, get 23-25mpg’s and nobody knows what they are, except real car-guys

    Like 2
  15. TechnoHippie

    There are a dozen of these for sale on craigslist at any given time – I see them anywhere from $16,500 to $20,000 and most have pretty low miles on them. They sure as hell don’t get 25mpg either. New they got 15mpg in the city — and under the exact right conditions they could supposedly get 23mpg in the highway, but I’ve never seen one get that much. This is one of those cars that I keep thinking will go up in value, but thus far they really have not. I think part of the problem is year of the car — those years of corvettes are sort of the worst when it comes to value….abet these ZR1’s should be the exception. But I still think that might cause the values to not go up as strongly as say an Acura NSX of the same year.

    Like 0
    • HeadMaster1

      I agree with Techohippie as to the pricing on these ZR1’s, they aren’t worth much today. Hard to say what will happen in he future, but seems like only a few years ago C3 Vettes were considered the worst, now they are gaining some respect, and their isn’t ANY Corvette produced before the C4 ZR1 that has it’s performance, so time will tell. The fact that they are cheap now might actually cause them to be used up and thrown away, much as many 60’s and 70″s muscle cars were trashed during the late 80’s…….When I was in HS in the late 80’s our student parking lot was full of GTO’s, SS’s, 442’s Z28s, even a Hemi or two, etc. NONE of them in good shape, just considered old gas-guzzlers handed down to kids as newer cars were bought. So, on paper the C4 ZR1 “should” be a future rock star. low production, insane performance for the time, and no respect during it’s mid-life years :-) BTW- 65mph in 6th gear is about 1,200-1,300rpm, they have very long legs….

      Like 0
    • lawyer George

      Technohippie. I have never owned a Corvette but a number of my friends have, so I have both ridden in and driven several of them, one of which was a new 1991 Red ZR1 with a 6 speed stick. The acceleration was, I thought, incredible.As far as gas mileage was concerned, Al, the owner and I traveled from Eugene to PleasantsonCA for the Goodguys meet {more properly “Meat”for all the delicious cars found there and I was astonished at how good the fuel economy was at 26+ hwy. I believe he paid $33000,00, and sold it a year and a half later for a difficult to obtain high $19’s. “But, I could be wrong!” (Bill Mahr). He regretted selling but he complained about an incessant grating. screeching sound from the passenger’s seat only when it was occupied which drove him crazy, and as a lawyer he was already sufficiently granted entry to the courthouse and did not enjoy the extra case load defending speeding tickets. He was a bit in denial and did not agree that the irritating screeching sound was coming from his wife and not the Vet. Had we litigated who was correct I would have prevailed on a directed verdict merely by showing a photograph of a new 1Ton Long wheelbase Chevy Hotel Transporter window van with smiling wifey standing by the side entry door and a number of grand-kids in and outside of the blah Tonner. I would often tease him that I had seen him in traffic and when he said he had not seen me and asked where, I would continue on but when I saw HILTON (or Sheriff’s Work Crew) stenciled on the side, I knew it wasn’t you. I don’t think he found that as amusing as I did, but that is often the case with my brand of humor. I did ride in the van, finding it a cavernous,uncomfortable,shiftless, wheezing, lumbering pile of nondescript steel, plastic.& glass with an appetite for gas which suggested the addition of the model badge “Prius” glued next to the “ZR1 badge (No–I would never glue one on–that’s just an analogy– something that is really cool to do like adding a Connie kit to a 1970 2dr Maverick!.

      Like 0
  16. D

    If I had the available bank roll, I would buy this in less than a heartbeat!

    Like 0
  17. Jon Diedrich

    I own a 1990 zr-1 and a1991 zr-1 quasar blue and polo green respectively ,in 7 years of ownership of put 50,000 miles on them 35,000 on the 1990 and 15,000 on the 1991 both are very dependable to say the least.Oh yah I drive em like I stole them.these things are like anvils you can hammer the hell out of them and they just go faster! They not only take the punishment, they love it.They do have healthy appetite for very expensive rear tires.For sure.

    Like 0

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