The best version of the worst Corvette was the 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.

Any idea that the Corvette was merely another dowdy, ineffective American automobile left over from the Malaise era was destroyed by the ZR-1. It didn’t appear noticeably different in appearance from any other C4 Corvette. The Corvette’s unique engine is barely hinted at by the slight exterior alterations. The ZR-1 was outfitted with an 5.7-liter V8 created by Lotus and constructed by Mercury Marine, the boat engine company, in place of the choked and feeble boat anchor that sat inside earlier ‘Vettes. With 380 horsepower going to the back wheels, it more than doubled the power of the miserable Corvette attempt from just six years before.

The ZR-1’s performance numbers are nothing short of astounding. According to Car and Driver, the ZR-1 completed the quarter mile in 12.8 seconds and accelerated from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in just 4.5 seconds. Even now, that’s quick, and for more than 30 years ago, that’s incredibly quick. The formerly low-end Corvette was now an apex predator to its European rivals with a top speed of 175 miles per hour. The Corvette underwent a dramatic transformation over the course of more than five years. A dull sportscar that was only fit for the scrap heap was transformed into a legendary performance marvel.


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