No Reserve: 1990 Chevy Corvette ZR1

This 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is a long-time elderly owned example equipped with the 5-speed manual transmission and all of its original equipment – right down to an owner’s manual signed by Zora Duntov. The seller bought it from its solitary owner and notes it remained in climate-controlled storage since new. It’s now listed here on eBay at no reserve with bidding over $12K and three days left in the auction.

To me, the ZR1 is one of the most criminally underappreciated ’90s supercars on the market today. As modern classics like the Acura NSX, Toyota Supra, and E30 M3 continue to either gain value or remain at elevated levels, the ZR1 hasn’t quite caught fire like those cars. It’s too bad since the performance is still very respectable and parts are still plentiful and cheap.

The interior of this car remains in similar shape to the exterior, with black leather buckets showing few, if any, signs of wear. Mileage is noted as being 36,686 and the cosmetics seem to bear that out. The listing does note that the Corvette has seen limited use since 2003, and as such, the AC doesn’t blow cold and the factory head unit is no longer working.

Mechanically, the seller claims the Corvette runs and drives well but would still recommend a proper going-through due to the amount of time it has sat. Certainly, if it hasn’t been abused as the seller claims, there should be relatively few issues to sort out, but long periods of sitting idle doesn’t do supercars any favors. These will take off sooner or later – buy one while they’re cheap.

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Comments

  1. Pat

    The shifter shows a 6 speed. Also, the dreaded reverse next to 6. I rented a Volvo with one of those in Belgium. Very uncomfortable thoughts shifting on the highway.

    2
    • chris lawrence

      own one and it becomes like second nature.

      6
  2. Bear

    Super Nice looking ZR1! :-)
    Great color combination.
    The engineering of that engine was done by the Mercury Marine MerCruiser division & it was VERY cutting edge for the day!
    https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/classic-cars/a13610692/c4-chevrolet-corvette-zr1-engine-factory-tour/

    This one won’t stay near $12K for very long….
    Anyone care to GUESS what the final sale price will be??

    4
    • Superdessucke

      Ebay is tough to predict because bidding wars can ensue (often with the winner waking or sobering up and backing out). But I don’t honestly think much more beyond where it’s at now. We’re already in very high range of one of these at 12.2k. That could change if we get 2 people who must have it but I doubt it.

      2
    • Frank Sumatra

      The engine was engineered by GM/Lotus and built by Mercury Marine.

      3
    • Michael Jabczynski

      Over twenty

      1
      • Superdessucke

        Maybe if there were two of them.

  3. Superdessucke

    That must have been the best day of his life. Having been in position to drop today’s equivalent of $125,000 (assuming he got it at MSRP – most paid more that first year) on the most advanced and fastest ‘Vette of all time. And getting Zora to sign the manual before driving off in red and buffed aluminum glory.

    Unfortunately, little did he know that the humble Camaro Z28 he roared past on his way out of the lot would be worth about as much in a few decades (actually more if he specified the 1LE package). Who knew!

    ** I will spare everybody my customary “what that money would be worth today if it had been put in a mutual fund” analysis. Suffice it to say you don’t want to know!

    3
  4. Andy

    Markets are funny things. I’d never buy a post-’69 Camaro at any price, but I could almost picture myself in a ZR1 for twelve grand. And I’d never buy a car based on its resale, though I did make a profit once on a Dodge van that I bought for $300 and sold for $400.

    11
  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Beautiful car, should go easily for the price or a little more. Only big thing I see is if the engine maintenance issues that could present itself. I’ve chaired a few charity car shows and have seen multiple C4 ZR1’s and talked to the owners. The big issue I’ve heard was the maintenance issues owners are presented. It’s an engineering masterpiece but few shops still have the tools, manpower, knowledge or parts availability to work on them. If you have this lined up, then definitely go for it. If not, be prepared to do a lot of research and some down time as a result if work is needed on the engine.

    3
  6. JimmyJ

    Ha ha Andy yer alright! Nice $100 dollar profit! I’m not a Chevy guy but these things will never be cheaper, they were epic in there day and now affordable and the engine is just an engine how tough can it be? Nowadays u can 3D print a part if u need it.
    I think it’ll be one of those cars where we talk about how cheap they were back in the day kinda like a hemi cuda!

    2
  7. Frank Sumatra

    Apparently this is “ZR-1 Week” at Barn Finds. Good. I’m really tired of “GN/GNX Week” Groundhog Day.

    1
  8. irocrobb

    I lve in Canada and remember when they came out. Dealers were asking 100,0000 dollars for them. I would pass on this one as I would want everything working including the air cond and head unit. My guess it will sell around 14 to 15 grand.

    2
  9. DonziDon

    I owned a 91 ZR1 red on Red. Bought it in 1994 for 25k from the service manager at the local Chevy dealer. When I went to his house to look at it I pulled in and in his detached garage was a 87 Grand National GNX and the Zr1. He bought both new and paid full sticker for both he said. The Zr1 had 10k and was in brand new condition He had it advertised for many weeks for 40k and didn’t even get a phone call. I saw the for many weeks and decided to call and offer 25k and he couldn’t say yes fast enough. I was mad he said yes so fast and wished I offered 20k. I figured I would go see it and try and talk him down more. One look at the car and I was done. It looked like it was flying while it was parked. I sounded so great on start up and going through the gears and being able to shift at high rpms’s was amazing. After the test drive I couldn’t pay him fast enough. I kept it for 4 years and sold it for $25,500 to another member of my Zr1 club. The main reason why I sold it was back then a crate LT5 replacement engines were going for 20k and the way I drive the car I figured it was only a matter of time. There was nothing really like t back then. The car could do 175mpg and also get 26mpg. I cant count how many mustangs, 300Z twin turbos, 3000 GT tried to race me either not knowing it was a Zr1 or knowing and trying/failing anyways. A buddy of mine had a 308 Ferrari like magnum PI and we raced once and I was so far ahead I couldn’t even see his headlights anymore. Another buddy had a 90 Zr1 also red and brought it to Callaway in old lyme CT and got the supernatural engine upgrade and also the Callaway Aerobody. What an amazing car it was. I contacted Lingenfelter and was so close to sending to them for their 650hp upgrade but I ended up selling instead. I am not sure why these cars are so underappreciated but they are a steal at these prices. I want a 93-95 Zr1 but would pick up an older one for the right price. This one is only 15 minutes from me so its very tempting. I doubt this goes for under 20k! if it were to go for anywhere near the 12k price it will be in my garage. Nothing quite sounds like a 4 cam 32 valve V8 doing 100mph cruising down the highway. My GF at the time had a mustang Cobra which also had the 4 cam 32 valve V8 and our saying was “Happiness is having two 4 cam V8’s in the driveway” Also there is a 91 Zr1 on ebay with 300 miles still on MSO going for 41k. So if you paid 60k back in 91 and held on to it all these years and now it can be bought for 41k. I don’t get it. Maybe in 20 years these will get their due. Until then you can get an amazing car for less than the cost of a Kia. My 2 favorite corvette saying are “life begins at 175” for the zr1 top speed and “all corvettes are red….the rest are just mistakes”

  10. Miguel Member

    I think the values have stayed down on these cars because Chevrolet, in their infinite wisdom, adopted the special rear bumper for the regular Corvettes in 1992.

    That made these cars hard to distinguish from just a normal car.

    People that spend a lot of money on a car like this want people to know what the car is by first glance, and this car doesn’t cut it.

    Does anybody agree with this or am I crazy?

    3
    • Frank Sumatra

      “Crazy” is too strong a word, but I do have a different opinion. I have always purchased a car to satisfy myself. I could not care less what anybody thinks about what I drive. You are correct though- Many ZR-1 owners were upset when GM took away the distinguishing rear fascia. That is why GM added more ID badges to the car.

      2
    • CanuckCarGuy

      It’s the perfect storm. A combination of being a C4, but with a much higher price tag for engine maintenance and repairs…with the look of a run of the mill C4, to your point.

  11. John

    Beautiful car for a collector, but as a true road car, its going to be very hard to find anyone who can service it. Parts are mostly machined from pure unobtainium. They were very difficult “back-in-the-day” and likely nearly impossible now. As you can imagine, having Lotus involved with the design added a level of complexity to the mix (engineered lightness applies very literally to one’s wallet). But still a beautiful example, hopefully, someone in Dubai will fall in love with it.

  12. JS

    The camshaft bearing clearances were set wee bit tight on these, so if one was apt to rev them too quickly before they were warmed up, they would shear the camshaft sprockets off. 0W20 or 0W30 oil would help with that. Very nice example. If only I had a place to park it inside.

  13. Comet

    I remember seeing pictures of a boat Mercury Marine fitted with two of these engines. I believe it was called corv-boat, boat-ette, or some other awkward name. A mercury engineer told me it was soon stolen and never recovered. I probably have some (many) details messed up as it was along time ago. Can anybody out there fill in the blanks?

  14. ACZ

    Has anyone ever figured out what was the best year for the C4 ZR1? And why?

    • Frank Sumatra

      The final year. 1995. 405 bhp and the 95 has the highest refinement and reliability of the entire C4 run.

      2
  15. Theodore C Kardos

    Drop-in a Cavalier 6 Cyl, Drop the Top & I’m In for about the same dough (The Z71) Just screams added expense with no return (Yeah, ZERO NOTA NO Curb appeal … TR7’s are more unique

    • Frank Sumatra

      I gotta go with “Bizarre” on this comment. TR7’s???

      1
  16. Theodore C Kardos

    The comment was an intended stretch to the imagination as to how unendearing the stamped body style of this Vette hits me (OK) What’s Underneath (But) in outer body beauty it’s no more attractive than a stamped out TR7 … I’d rather NOT have what’s underneath when paired to such an UGLY Bodystyle ~ Just sayin’ it was the least attractive of any ever Vettes B4 & after … & TR7’s R more interesting/Attractive …

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