This 1991 Corvette ZR-1 Coupe has less than 26,000 actual miles. It is completely original and in great condition. Bright Red with black interior, it is one of only 2,044 1991 ZR-1s produced. The ZR-1 package sold at just under $64,000, when the option price of $31,683 was added onto a base Corvette coupe.

In the mid-1980s, GM and its Corvette Division approached Group Lotus in the U.K. with the idea of developing the world’s fastest production car. From that collaboration came the LT5 engine. The LT5 was hand built using Lotus-designed 32-valve DOHC heads and an aluminum block generating 375 horsepower. This helped the ZR-1 set world speed records.

1991 ZR-1s have unique doors, rear fascia and body panels for the wider 11-inch wheels, dual power leather sport seats, electronic air conditioning controls, electronic selective ride and handling, low tire pressure warning indicator, 6-speed manual transmission—and, of course, the coveted LT5 engine. This Corvette is also equipped with dual Targa tops (glass and body color), AM/FM/CD touch-screen radio, tilt wheel, alloy wheels, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power locks, and cruise control.

Own a piece of Corvette history with this collectible, early production 1991 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1. Car magazine tests of ZR-1 power reported 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a 13.4-second quarter mile. The car has a reported top speed of 180 mph.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1991 Corvette ZR-1 Coupe
Years Produced:1990–1995
Number Produced:2,044 in 1991 (6,939 total)
Original List Price:$64,128
SCM Valuation:$19,900–$30,400
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:n/a
Chassis Number Location:Lower left windshield corner
Engine Number Location:Lower rear side of crankcase
Club Info:ZR-1 Net Registry
Alternatives:1982 Corvette Collector Edition 1996 Corvette Grand Sport or Collector Edition Coupe 1997–2005 C5 Corvette
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 47, sold for $22,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction on April 7, 2011.

“The car speaks for itself.” That is what Dave McLellan, former Corvette chief engineer, said of the 1990 ZR-1. “The ZR-1 gives you attributes of a $75,000-to-$300,000 sports car.”

Quite simply, the ZR-1 was the fastest street Corvette ever—faster even than the mighty big block monsters of the 1960s and early 1970s. But unlike the Brahma-bull-like 427s, the ZR-1 delivered its rush with calm sophistication and leather-covered, Bose stereo comfort—all for a MSRP of $64,128.

The incredible performance of the current 638 horsepower, 206 mph ZR1 “Blue Devil” can overshadow the 1990-95 ZR-1’s accomplishments, but vintage road tests help keep things in perspective.

Hib Halverson, in Road & Track’s 1991 Corvette special issue, wrote: “It is now unnecessary to use the words ‘world-class’ to qualify the ZR-1. In the ‘high-sports’ market, there’s no longer any question that this car is a major force and among American-built entries in that category it has no match. In fact, nothing even comes close. A standard by which to judge the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 is superfluous, because it is now a standard. It has become, unequivocally, what its designers intended all along: ‘The King of the Hill’….”

Halverson, who clearly really liked this car, warmed to his work and continued with: “The LT5 is atypical of a DOHC engine because it can be as drivable as that in any family sedan. Low-speed response is extraordinary. Ample torque is available just off-idle. Incredibly, this engine’s torque curve is above 300 lb/ft. from 1,000 rpm all the way to 6,500 rpm. A non-turbo, four-cam engine with the LT5’s abilities has never before been in a road car.”

Along with this superb performance came the kind of dependability that owners of garden-variety Chevys enjoyed. GM insisted that the ZR-1 comply with all corporate reliability mandates, so here was an automotive superstar without the diva-like maintenance its peers required.

Proof of that came on March 2, 1990, when a mildly modified ZR-1 set the 24-hour World Speed Record when it averaged 175.885 mph, breaking a record that had stood since 1940. Numerous other records also fell that day, with the ZR-1 performing flawlessly. Today, the ZR-1 Net Registry lists 30 cars with over 100,000 miles on the odometer—and three with over 200,000—all without rebuilding or replacing the engine.

Why so special—and so cheap?

Twenty years ago the ZR-1 was quite the bargain. A Porsche 911 Turbo would set you back $95,000, while a Ferrari Testarossa cost about $181,000, both delivering performance comparable to the ZR-1.

But the “King” could hardly be called an investment, as prices are still declining (although they seem to be bottoming out). As with most cars, the first ZR-1s—the 1990 model—have enjoyed the most interest on the market, as have the last 1995 cars. So have the pretty Ruby Red 1993 40th Anniversary versions. It’s a shame, really, but any other ZR-1 is pretty much ignored.

$22,000 for this low-mile, highly original car is near low book for a 1991 ZR-1. Will it ever be valuable? Probably not in the new owner’s lifetime. Why not? First of all, a total of 6,939 ZR-1s were built—and many owners put them under wraps as an investment. That means many low-mileage ZR-1s exist, and there are enough of them to satisfy current demand.

Chevrolet also didn’t make this car look radically different from an ordinary C4 Corvette.

Finally, you can buy a C5 Corvette coupe with its 345-horsepower LS1 powerplant and superior comfort for around the same price. A nice 1982 Corvette Collector Edition, which has started increasing in value in recent years, could also be bought for about the same money, although it pales in comparison to the “King” in every way.

A 1996 Grand Sport or Collector Edition Coupe—the last of the C4 Corvettes—have 330 horsepower under the hood and might be another option.

But what a driver!

Yet, this particular 1991 ZR-1 has so much more going for it than just market value. It clearly has been pampered, and it has just enough miles on it to drive it without guilt. Its rock-solid reliability makes it a potential daily driver, and most spares are readily available.

With its Bright Red paint, this Corvette makes a beautiful impression anywhere it’s driven—and as someone who has been behind the wheel of a number of these cars, I can tell you a ZR-1 truly begs to be driven. Then there is the view under the hood and the magical sound of four cams and 32 valves, unique in all of Corvette history. That alone is worth $22k. Yes, this was an average-to-low sale price, but if the new owner bought this car to enjoy it as a driver, and not a financial investment, I would call it very well bought indeed

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