1990 Corvette ZR-1 "King of the Hill"
Anticipation became realization, the "King of the Hill" had arrived. In the mid-80's, General Motors and its Corvette Division approached Group Lotus in Great Britain with the idea of developing the world's fastest production car. From that collaboration came the LT5 engine, an aluminum-block V-8 with the same bore as the standard (L98) 350ci displacement unit, but with 375 horsepower. To accomplish this power boost, the new block featured four overhead camshafts and 32 valves. The LT5s were built by Mercury Marine in Oklahoma and assembled into the ZR-1 vehicle at Bowling Green.
A unique computerized engine control module provided "bi-modal" characteristics. This dual personality was a logical outgrowth of the appeal of the twin-turbo Callaway conversions. The ZR-1 could be used for routine street driving or convert to a race car with speed and handling available on demand. The computer system directed fuel mixtures through an upgraded injection system that allowed for low-, half- and full-throttle modes and kicked the engine up to 375hp. And, a key-operated "valet" switch locked out the upper speed ranges, limiting power to a normal 250 horses to prevent inexperienced hands from taking advantage of the car's outstanding power.
Available only in coupe configuration, the ZR-1 was distinguishable from other Corvette coupes by its wider tail section, rear 11" wheels and its new convex rear fascia and four "square" taillights. 3,049 ZR-1s were turned out.
The "King of the Hill" did not come cheap, however. The price of the basic coupe was $31,979, but with the addition of the ZR-1's special performance package listed at $27,016, the car was not meant for the faint-hearted or bargain-conscious. It's reported that some dealers asked and were paid $100,000 for the then ultimate in American sports cars.
Evidence of its power was a 4.9 second 0-60 sprint and a quarter- mile turned in 13.4 seconds. Top speed was nearly 180mph.
The 1989 Geneva ZR-1:
The chassis of the ZR-1:
A ZR-1 development mule: