There’s a ZR-1 for sale on the registry site for $5000. Now, hold on just a second, before you go running off to get the number to call the seller, there’s something you should know. It’s been rolled.

There’s no engine or transmission. Most of the front and bodywork is gone and there could be some rear damage too, there also appears to be some damage to the top of the windshield too possibly.

Okay, so now it’s a junker, right? Why am I wasting your time with this?

Well, there are some real possibilities here.

First of all, the overall condition of the chassis and the passenger cell etc. looks in good condition. The parts that are damaged are mostly the parts that are standard to any C4 so plentiful and cheap.

So what you have here is one hell of a fantastic project potential.

First there’s the obvious scenario. Rebuild the car, find an LT-5 and transmission and drop it in. The problem with that idea is that LT-5s aren’t exactly hanging around on street corners waiting to be bought and when you can find them they’re expensive. Still allowing around $10k for the engine, $2k for the transmission and maybe another $6k for the rest of it still leaves you with a fairly good priced ZR-1.

Some other options spring to mind though. Let’s say you do find an LT-5, originality isn’t an issue here so how about mounting the ‘Heart of the Beast’ to an automatic gearbox? The mounting should be a fairly easy fabrication for anyone with a decent home workshop or could be farmed out to a good shop. I can hear the purists gasping in horror at the thought, but hell you’d have the only slush-box ZR-1 on the planet probably.

As I said an LT-5 is pretty hard to find and expensive. So how about dropping an LS-1 or LS-2 in there. Again this might be sacrilege to many, but in many ways the new C5 and C6 engines are the descendents of the mighty LT-5 (albeit a somewhat side branch of the family).

A standard LS-1 will give power levels approaching a pre-93 ZR-1 and with some fairly simple bolt-ons will surpass it, at least on a pure horsepower level, if not in terms of refinement and top end.

The newer engines are also very amenable to tuning; there is a bewildering array of power-adders and updates for these engines. What’s more they are plentiful and relatively cheap. And on top of that, like the LT-5, they’re a completely aluminium engine so the power to weight ratio is excellent.

The fabrication again shouldn’t be too hard. The LS series engines were tested in the C4 chassis while GM was doing early testing with ‘mules’ so should present few problems. The gearbox and instrumentation may need some work but hey we all like a challenge don’t we?

Lastly, how about this for an idea. Install a C5-R 427 or similar. This probably wouldn’t cost any more than trying to find a replacement LT-5 but the power levels would be fantastically insane. One thousand horsepower should be easily within reach with this kind of setup. Adding in super or turbo chargers would provide enough power to move a small planet :-)

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of rescuing a fallen warrior and breathing new life in to him, giving him the weapons he needs to rise again, that sounds very cool!


There’s a ZR-1 for sale on ZR1.NET. My favourite year/colour – ’95 Dark Red Metallic. It has a beige/saddle interior which I’m not keen on, but I’d still take it!

Sadly it’s $48k US, which translates to almost $60k CAN and far beynd my budget. Yes I’m searching for a ZR-1 but that doesn’t mean I’m made of money or won the lottery.

At the moment I can go up to about $25k US, which buys several ’90/91sand a couple of ’92s that I know of. There were a couple of ’94s that I would have jumped at, but I wasn’t able to move fast enough financially. A ’94 for $25k is a bargain.

By Spring my budget should be up around $30k US which brings more cars in to play – it’s always hard when you have a tight budget. There is always the thought lingering at the back of your mind that you have to get the absolute best deal for your money. The problem is that sometimes that makes you hesitate and end up losing out on what would have been a good deal.

It’s very hard being in this position. On the one hand, I could never have afforded to think about getting my dream car in England where I grew up, but here in Canada it is actually doable. On the other hand, when you see something you tend to jump for joy and start making all sorts of plans, then the doubt demons jump up and you start ‘what-if’-ing yourself out of things because of fear.

I’m fighting hard against it.

There’s a 1995 ZR-1 for sale right here in Ontario! Amazing, the car of my dreams and the year I’d most like and it’s just three hours down the road from me.

But… (you know there was a but coming didn’t you?) the car has never been driven – zero kilometers (or miles) on the clock. The owner bought it and has had it stored away since ’95.

I don’t really understand that philosophy. A car is meant to be driven, used, not just looked at occassionally. Surely if a ZR-1 is anything, it’s meant to perform – not sit around gathering dust like it was made of glass.

That said, there are more serious issues other than personal opinion on the drive-or-admire debate. Having been sat around for ten years, the seals in the engine will have likley shrunk and gone brittle. Bearing surfices in the engine will not have recieved the lubrication needed to maintain them in good condition, quite likely it will be seized and quite possibly the gearbox will be in similar condition too.

Firing up an engine like that would be fraught with danger. It would probably need stripping completely and a full rebuild. Essentially what was once the King of the Hill, is now reduce to a museum piece that will never do what it was designed to do.

The owner will likely never get his money back. He paid $86k Canadian back in ’95. He might now get around 70k perhaps. Even if he gets what he paid for it he’d still be losing a lot of money just due to inflation.

Somehow that doesn’t seem a good result for letting the King of Corvettes sit on a pedestal for eleven years.