Friday 28th April 1995
The last ZR-1 Corvette – “King of the Hill” – rolled off the assembly line. Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins and Chief Corvette Engineer Dave McLellan delivered the car to the National Corvette Museum. During its six year lifetime, 6939 ZR-1 Corvettes were built. The ZR-1 was distinguishable from other Corvette coupes by its wider tail section, 11″ wide rear wheels and its new convex rear fascia with four square shaped taillights and a CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp) attached to the top of the hatch glass instead of between the taillights. The ZR-1 displayed stunning ability both in terms of acceleration and handling capabilities, but carried with it an astonishingly high price. MSRP for the (375 hp) ZR-1 in 1990 was $58,995, almost twice the cost of a (250 hp) non-ZR-1, and had ballooned to $66,278 by 1995; some dealers successfully marked units as high as $100,000. Even at base MSRP, this meant that the ZR-1 was competing in the same price bracket as cars like the Porsche 964, making it a hard sell for GM dealers. In 1991, the ZR-1 and base model received updates to body work, interior, and wheels. The rear convex fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model found its way to all models, making the high-priced ZR-1 even less distinguishable. Further changes were made in 1992, including extra ZR-1 badges on the fenders and the introduction of Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) or traction control. For model year 1993, Lotus design modifications were made to the cylinder heads, exhaust system and valvetrain of the LT5, bringing horsepower up from 375 to 405. In addition, a new exhaust gas recirculation system improved emissions control. The model remained nearly unchanged into the 1995 model year, after which the ZR-1 was discontinued as the result of waning interest, development of the LS series engines, cost and the coming of the C5 generation. A total of 6,939 ZR-1s were manufactured over the six-year period. Not until the debut of the C5 platform Z06 would Chevrolet have another production Corvette capable of matching the ZR-1’s performance. Although the ZR-1 was extremely quick for its time (0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and onto 180+ mph), the huge performance of the LT5 engine was matched by its robustness. As evidence of this, a stock ZR-1 set seven international and world records at a test track in Fort Stockton, Texas on March 1, 1990, verified by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) for the group II, class 11 category: 100 miles (160 km) at 175.600 mph (282.601 km/h) 500 miles (800 km) at 175.503 mph (282.445 km/h) 1,000 miles (1,600 km) at 174.428 mph (280.715 km/h) 5,000 km (3,100 mi) at 175.710 mph (282.778 km/h) (World Record) 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at 173.791 mph (279.690 km/h) (World Record) 12 Hours Endurance at 175.523 mph (282.477 km/h) 24 Hours Endurance at 175.885 mph (283.059 km/h) for 4,221.256 miles (6,793.453 km) (World Record) These records were later broken by the Volkswagen W12, a one-off concept car that never went into production.