In the late 1980s, the Corvette team was ready to give the Corvette its mojo back. In 1990, the C4 Corvette ZR-1 debuted with a radical DOHC V8 engine designed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine and it was a supercar on a budget. Before production, there were obviously prototypes built. This is one of them. One of two, to be exact.
Chevrolet built 25 Corvette ZR-1 prototypes in 1987 for 1988 and dubbed them “King of the Hill” prototypes. Of the 25, two remain today, and this survivor is in tip-top shape. General Motors ordered its death in 1990, but somehow, the car ended up at an auto-recycling yard after testing in the United Kingdom and at the Milford Proving Grounds. Upon its discovery, it underwent a thorough restoration and received a new interior this year.
There are a few key differences from the production ZR-1 and the King of the Hill. Pre-production fiberglass panels sit at the rear from a 1989 Corvette and experimental ZR-1 wheels reside at all four corners. Wrapping the wheels are prototype Goodyear Gatorback tires with the words “Not For Sale” molded on the inner sidewalls.
Inside, keen observers will note an 8,000 RPM redline on the tachometer, which wasn’t available for production ZR-1s. As mentioned, the interior is all new save for the original console plate and power key.
The car’s documentation includes a GM build sheet and a handwritten engine book from Lotus used during development. This is truly a special Corvette built before Chevrolet actually decided to resurrect the ZR-1 name.
Start saving any holiday cash, though. Mecum Auctions estimates the ZR-1 prototype will sell for up to $225,000. Look for the special Corvette to hit the auction block at the Kissimmee outing between January 5 and 14.