This 1988 Chevrolet Corvette occupies a special place in the Corvette community as one of only two surviving factory “King of the Hill” ZR1 prototypes. It is one of 25 built in July 1987, before the Corvette team decided to resurrect the ZR1 moniker first used on its race-ready 1970 namesake. Bearing engineering data-tag EX5023, the car was used as a development mule at Lotus Cars’ Hethel works in England for engine calibration and emissions certifications, and it was later tested at General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds. Following standard practice for prototypes, General Motors ordered the car scrapped in 1990; instead, somehow, it was abandoned in an auto-recycling yard, where it remained for years before it was discovered and identified by the man who would undertake its painstaking restoration. At the time that began, the original frame, suspension and most of the body tub were intact, but the roof needed repair. Fiberglass body panels and a portion of the rear upper surround were sourced from a 1989 pre-production Corvette to complete the essential structure. The heart of the second-generation ZR1 was its LT5 engine, a 5.7L 32-valve DOHC all-aluminum V-8 designed by Lotus Engineering and built in the U.S. by Mercury Marine, and in this case, a refined Phase II version, the 43rd LT5 built. Like all production ZR1s from 1990 to 1995, this prototype is fitted with the CAGS-controlled ZF 6-speed manual transmission. Finished as original in Medium Blue Metallic, the car received an all-new bright blue leather interior in 2017, the only exceptions being the original console plate, power key and a special original detail: an 8,000 RPM tachometer that was not available on production cars. Featured in Anthony Young’s “Heart of the Beast: History of the LT5 V-8 and ZR1 Corvette,” the car wears 17×9.5-inch front and 17×11-inch rear aluminum ZR1 prototype wheels fitted with insanely rare experimental Goodyear Gatorback tires with the words “Not For Sale” molded on the inner sidewalls. Shown at the 2010 C4 Gathering at the National Corvette Museum, this historically significant ZR1 prototype comes with the factory build sheet and handwritten engine book from Lotus.
- Engine: 5.7L
- Trans: 6-Speed
- Color: Blue
- Interior: Blue
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