Corvette: Year by Year1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
King of the Hill
The ZR-1 ID on the option list was a tribute to the special ZR1 high performance package available for 1970 - '72 Corvettes which was shorthand for "Zora's Racers". This was a serious racing package costing approximately $1,000 and featured the much admired LT1 engine.
"King of the Hill" was an internal and supposedly unofficial working title around GM for the ZR-1 project. The moniker stuck with Corvette fans and according to rumors, could be found on some low level GM documentation.
The Exotic CorvetteAs the 1980s were turning into the 1990s, a new batch of high performance cars were coming from Japan and Europe. Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan knew that a special Corvette would be required to properly respond to the challenge. The adversaries had multiple overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, while all Corvettes before 1990 worked with a single camshaft deep in the engine block and two valves per cylinder.
Work on a new super Corvette started after the introduction of the C4, in the form of turbochaged V6 and V8 engines. These configurations did not work out and the decision was made to go with a double overhead cam naturally aspirated engine.
"I don't see the Corvette ZR-1 as exotic. I see it as much more. Corvette is identifiable and recognized on the road. Exotic is strange scoops and wings, like the Countach. Exotic is making 300 cars a year and selling them for outrageous prices. That's not Corvette. This car certainly delivers the elements of high performance driving -- all those things that exotic cars do for their owners -- at a much more affordable level. In a way, the Corvette ZR-1 is the ultimate expression of the Chevrolet mission statement, which is to "give more than expected". But instead of a $10,000 car you're talking about a $50,000 car that's giving you the attributes of a $60,000 to $300,000 car. You're going to find it's a higher performance car than any of the production-available Ferraris, including the Testarossa. It has higher performance than the Countach, as federalized. Ranking up there with the [Porsche] 959. Surely not at the level of the F40, which is just a thinly disguised race car. The Corvette is a civil automobile. It doesn't remind you every minute that you are driving a race car. But it also has this other dimension that is instantly waiting for you."