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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

1994 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 - Muscle Car For Sale


With 32 valves and four camshafts whirring away on top of a stout aluminum block V8 the LT5 engine in the ZR-1 Corvette was an engineering tour-de-force for GM in the late ''80s and early ''90s. It featured dual intake runners with butterfly valves that both bolstered low-end torque production and excelled in high-RPM breathing (these butterfly valves are also what allowed the ZR-1 to feature a valet key that reduced horsepower on demand). The engine was stuffed into a heavily revised Corvette C4 chassis featuring the widest tires available at the time: 315/35/17 Goodyear Gatorbacks stuffed under fenders that were specially widened just for the ZR-1. This gave the car a look all its own even if some critics argued that it was too subtle given the car''s $31000+ premium. The net effect of this was a car that at the time was pretty much the baddest hombre on the block. There were some that were faster some that were more exclusive but absolutely none could touch the ZR-1''s combination of power handling and price. ZR-1 enthusiasts rallied around the slogan Life begins at 180 referencing the car''s top speed and even today these incredible machines occupy a special place in Corvette history. While modern technology has placed even a standard 2010 Corvette''s horsepower above the ZR-1''s 405 (which was HUGE in the early ''90s) these cars still generate strong feelings. My own personal experience comes from being involved with a team who built a whole fleet of highly modified ZR-1s from lightweight street fighters to twin-turbocharged terrors designed to break records. Make no mistake these are special cars even if performance has edged past them in the past 15 years. This gorgeous black-on-black 1994 ZR-1 has 4420 miles from new which translates to just over 275 miles per year. Its original owner was heavyweight champion boxer Riddick Bowe and since day one it has been lovingly preserved and protected in climate controlled facilities. Black looks extremely menacing on these C4 Corvettes especially the wide-body ZR-1s and the paint on this car is in excellent condition throughout. As $70000 supercars paint quality on the ZR-1s was better than average and by 1994 after 10 years of manufacturing this body style the guys on the assembly line were pretty darned good at their jobs. Panel gaps are good the giant clamshell hood opens and closes easily and the wide ZR-1 exclusive tail panel fits well. This car is equipped with the roof package (A $950 option) along with a bronze-tinted roof panel that looks black until you get inside and look up. There''s not much brightwork to speak of on a car like this but the ZR-1 badges on the flanks and tail are excellent and a previous owner has added lettering to highlight the CORVETTE emblazoned across the rear panel between the taillights. The ZR-1 was the only Corvette to retain the CHMSL on top of the hatch glass throughout its lifetime and the glass pieces on this car are original and virtually flawless. Under the hood beats the heart of the beast and what a heart it is. Lotus did the engineering while Mercury Marine in Oklahoma took care of manufacturing (owing to their extensive experience in casting and machining aluminum) and the end result looks like industrial sculpture. The 16 intake runners in that unique intake manifold the trick aluminum cam covers emblazoned with the CORVETTE logo all of it made sure that you knew you were getting something special for your extra $31258.00 over the price of a base Corvette. This engine is highly original and well detailed and like the rest of the car shows signs of being coddled and protected. The aluminum bits are still shiny and clean painted parts are bright and everything works properly. These engines are incredibly reliable and durable and this one has been properly maintained since it was new ensuring a long life of happy motoring ahead of it. The LT5 also featured distributorless ignition one of the first applications of the technology as well as ASR which stands for Automatic Slip Regulation an early form of traction control that can be very useful when trying to launch your 405-horsepower ZR-1 in the rain. All the factory markings and decals are still in place making this car an excellent contender in a preservation class at any Corvette show in the country. The only transmission available in the ZR-1 was the durable and great-shifting ZF 6-speed manual. Yes it features the dreaded CAGS (Computer Assisted Gear Selection) which thoughtfully guides the shifter from first to fourth gear under light throttle but there are plugs out there you can install to defeat it or just squeeze the throttle a little harder right before you shift. Regardless this is one sweet-shifting gearbox that encourages you to run that 4-cam motor up to redline in every gear and grab downshifts when you go through tunnels just to hear the sonorous exhaust note. The ZR-1 also came standard with the selective ride and handling suspension (FE3) which features a 3-position switch on the center console to fine-tune the shocks and the system is fully functional on this car. Wheels are gorgeous chrome plated A-mold ZR-1 wheels wearing brand new 275/40/17 front and 315/35/17 rear Firestone radials. Climb over the C4''s wide door sills and you''ll find yourself in one of the most high-tech driving environments available in 1994. The dashboard was a mixture of analog and digital gauges and there are dozens of buttons and switches positioned all around you. If you''re a techno-savvy kind of person this is like heaven. The power leather seats are incredibly comfortable for long hauls or sprinting around a race track at an open track session and the steering wheel feels right in your hands. Bang the 6-speed through the gears watch the unique digital speedometer start skipping digits as you accelerate and feel the wind whipping through your hair with the lift-off roof panel removed. The leather is in good condition overall with an easy lived-in look about it and the door panels and carpets are almost like new. The dashboard is fully functional with no cracks or fading from exposure to the sun and the trunk compartment shows no UV damage as is so common on cars that live outside. Fortunately the documentation on this car is considerable. First there''s title documentation back to the original owner Riddick Bowe. There''s also a copy of the original window sticker build sheet and all the original manuals. The owner has also compiled a large binder full of useful ZR-1 information including service tools part numbers and other technical data. There are also purchase documents and a CarFAX report on this car. In my personal and professional opinion ZR-1 prices will only go up from here. The cars are really coming into their own as long-term investments now that their place in Corvette history is secure. There are only a few truly exceptional low-mileage examples out there since most of these cars were purchased by enthusiasts who like to drive their cars. If you''re a celebrity fan this is a chance to own a celebrity car but more importantly a fully loaded ZR-1 in a killer color combination. This one is investment quality throughout and if you haven''t driven a ZR-1 before you''re missing out on an incredible experience. Like I said I have a real fondness for these cars and it isn''t because they are slow. ZR-1 means respect in any language and the new 2010 ZR1 only reinforces this car''s specialness.


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