Chevy’s Corvette is the epitome of the classic American sports car. No other American-made car comes close to the 60-plus year history of this vehicle. Since 1953, Corvettes have been rolling off the lines and into the hearts of drivers, not just in the U.S., but around the world. The Corvette ZR1 is a classic of the brand and one of the best performance cars ever made.
The first Corvette ZR1 came out as an optional performance package on the 1970 model. This particular package lasted until 1972. The LT1 engine with 370 horsepower ran the early ‘70s model and was a souped-up version of a small block, basic V8. This early Corvette ZR1 was a good start, but it was not until the 1990s that the famous ZR1 appeared on the scene.
The discussion over the Corvette ZR1 of the ‘90s began when Corvette developers got together with Lotus engineering to create a new engine for the sports car. It was called the LT5 and was a 5.7-liter, 375-horsepower, aluminum V8, and ranked as one of the most powerful engines in the world at the time. Buyers could first get the brand new, LT5-powered Corvette ZR1 in 1990.
The price was high by 1990 standards, but that did not stop the ZR1 from becoming an overnight success. Over the next few years, updates to the LT5 upped the power rating to over 400 horsepower. In spite of the continual improvements, this generation of the ZR1 was finished by 1995 and only around 7,000 were made. Consumer demand being what it is, the hiatus was over and in 2009, a new Corvette ZR1 came out with a whopping 620-horsepower engine. Chevy has continued to produce a new ZR1 every year since then and it had the honor of being the pace car at the Indy 500 in 2012.