One of the most highly anticipated Corvettes of all time, the 1988 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was a long time coming, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Based on the popular new C4, or Fourth Generation Corvettes introduced in 1984, the ZR-1 had been in development almost since the very beginning, with the avowed goal of producing the fastest production car on the planet, without sacrificing everyday driveability or even fuel economy, such as it was. The result took over 4 years to come, due in great part to the delays in engine development. Lotus, a GM subsidiary at this point, had been drafted in creating the new engine for the ZR-1, and it took a while. One of the fun facts about the original ZR-1 is that it was designed with two sets of keys; one of them would unleash the full power of the engine, while the other one would severely restrict it, making it ideal to lend the car to your teenage son or driving-challenge spouse!
The Corvette ZR-1 was visually difficult to distinguish from the base model, something that fans and buyers didn’t appreciate much, as the ZR-1 was considerably more expensive, but all that money went into the engine: still 5.7-liters, or 350 cubic inches, the venerable small-block got a full redesign courtesy of Lotus, and now sported a quad-camshaft design, four overhead valves per cylinder, and dual fuel injection ports (which allowed for the restriction, as mentioned above). The final version produced 380 horsepower. You could take the Corvette ZR-1 down the road at a top speed of 180 miles per hour, and accelerate 0-60 in a stomach-churning 4.5 seconds. Not only that, but thanks to its excellent suspension, and brakes, the Corvette was now a car that handled more than respectably.
The 1988 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was a true beast, and a worthy candidate to carry the Corvette name in the 90s. Little did they know that even more insane performance lay just down the road!