Saturday, September 05, 2015

The World's Fastest Cars (12): Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

This is such a cheesy 1990s ad:

The ZR-1 was something. In my high school years, this was America's greatest automotive achievement. Everything about it was extraordinary. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my friend Ethan at the library about it. His dream was to become a CPA and to own a ZR-1 one day (he manages a hedge fund, so I assume he can afford one now). In that conversation, we learned from each other:
  • the engine was built by Mercury Marine
  • the car came with a valet key to decrease horsepower
From reading the book The World's Fastest Cars, I learned this morning:
  • the ZR-1's engine was designed by Lotus
  • with the valet key activated, the engine runs on just the primary intake ports and puts out 245 horsepower; "Full Engine Power" position allows secondary valve operation good for 380 horsepower
  • under light throttle applications, the automatic transmission shifts from first directly to fourth gear
  • the ZR-1 is three inches wider and an inch longer in the back (compared with the regular coupe)
  • the ZR-1's rear body panel is convex instead of concave


m4ff3w said...

The manual trans normally goes from 1st to 4th, 90s F-bodies did it as well. There is an easy way to defeat it though.

MattC said...

At a recent Cars and Coffee in Northern VA, I saw about 5 ZR-1s. I really like them. The interior is still typical early 1990's crap GM plastic, but I applaud GM for taking some chances with the drivetrain. The engine's 380hp may pale in comparison to modern engines (how far we have come that a base V6 Mustang/Camaro puts out over 300hp) but still the ZR-1 represents GM's attempt to bring the C4 into the realm of the supercar.

As an aside, G. Gordon Liddy used to promote that he had a Lingenfelter ZR-1 that pumped the HP up to 500hp. His car was featured in Car and Driver years back and he was somewhat a fixture (either of distain/admiration) around the beltway for years. I am not sure where he resides now and whether or not he still owns the car.

Maxichamp said...

@MattC: Clarence Thomas has an old ZR-1 also.