1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 Is Our Bring a Trailer Auction Pick of the Day


  • A 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 is up for auction on the Bring a Trailer website, and it’s an interesting example.
  • It has an over-the-top blue interior and other modifications that mean this one may possibly be an acquired taste.
  • Having said all that, it’s a ZR-1. Check it out before the BaT online auction ends on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 10.

    Have you ever wanted to drive 5000 miles at an average speed of almost 174 miles per hour? We have, too. Hark! An opportunity has presented itself, and not quite like the last time we chose a 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 as our auction pick. That one was nice and all, but it was a low-mileage, all-original creampuff. It sold for $45,000. This one is different because it has been customized in a few key and not altogether pleasing ways. As we all know, custom cars can be difficult to sell, because, well, they so often lack the benefit of the corporate bean counters and focus groups who obsess over what will appeal to the largest number of people possible. A tough sell could mean a low interest from potential buyers. See where we’re going with this?

    This particular car, although enhanced well in all the mechanical ways, may not be everyone’s cup of tea in the looks department. Definitely not where the royal blue interior Supermans straight into the wall of red of its slabby exterior. And let’s face it—fourth-generation Corvettes aren’t exactly the most sought after among America’s Sports Car anyway.

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    That’s what makes this ZR-1 so perfect, fellow speed junkies. First off, take a look at those ugly seats. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Either you’re judging me for being judgy—beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that—or you’re thinking, “Who the heck wants a car with ugly seats?” Bear with us. Those seats look like they belong in a 1990s Greyhound bus—not surprising, since the seller says he had the seats reupholstered with cloth he sourced from a company that usually outfits coach buses. (You can almost smell the blue juice as it sloshes around in the back-row bathroom.) The bus seats, the generally unattractive late C4 interior design, the car’s many paint dings and chips, the questionable (nay, hideous) custom windshield trim, and the cracked weatherstripping are only likely to hold the price down, allowing some lucky devil to drive—very quickly and relatively inexpensively—into the next two or three sunsets, sitting in ugly seats she or he will never so much as look at while watching the road unfold beside an endless blur of receding utility poles.

    1990 chevrolet corvette zr1

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    Let’s also remember that for most people, buying an all-original car—especially one that’s a beauty to behold and/or wears its ultra-low mileage like a freshness certification—carries with it the burdensome feeling that it shouldn’t be spoiled. The buyer of this car will be someone who either loves the garish updates applied to an otherwise blandly-styled car, or simply doesn’t care much about the oddness of its looks and wants a chance to flog the daylights out of an honest-to-God engineering marvel.

    1990 chevrolet corvette zr1

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    Admittedly, faster, better-looking cars can be had. But they wouldn’t be examples of the car that set several FIA-sanctioned speed-endurance records—records that, to this day, haven’t been beaten by a real production car (sorry, Volkswagen W-12). A quick ZR-1 refresher: Designed by Lotus and Chevrolet and built by Mercury Marine, the 5.7-liter aluminum version of the LT5 V8 used in the early-’90s ZR-1 had dual overhead camshafts, a 12-quart oil sump, all sorts of high tech-for-the-time gadgetry, and could launch the car to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Its real beauty, of course, was its ability to keep the car going at speeds above 170 mph for hours and hours on end without failure.

    And according to the seller and his pile of receipts, this ZR-1 has benefited from extensive tuning by actual professionals, including aftermarket camshafts, ported heads and intake, an upgraded exhaust system, and a lowered suspension. So it’s possible, even likely, that this car is a good deal faster than it was when it rolled off the assembly line (although hopefully not at the expense of its legendary, corporate engineer-provided durability). And it even comes with a fresh set of Michelin Pilot Sport all-season radials.

    If I still haven’t convinced you, let’s consider this cartoonish offering from an economic perspective. With one day left on the auction, the price needle has barely moved past $15,000. Now could be your chance to saddle up a Superman suit-colored, faster-than-a-speeding-bullet maverick. Dig deep. Pony up. You know there are plenty of dumber things you would readily sink that money into.

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