Own a Piece of Corvette History! 1988 ZR-1 Corvette Prototype Up For Auction!

Rare Corvette Engineering Prototype Goes ON THE BLOCK at Mecum Kissimmee 2018 Auction, January 5 – 14 – Lot 165

Car auctions are a lot of fun because you never know how much or how little any given car is going to sell for. The exception being rare Ferraris, Cobras, and anything owned by Steve McQueen – they always sell for A LOT! Corvettes are especially unpredictable. Several years ago the John Greenwood Sebring ’74 IMSA Corvette (the Batmobile) was a NO SALE. In 2016 the very first C7 2017 Grand Sport Corvette to roll off the assemble line sold for only $170,000. Many, including me, thought that the car would go for a lot more, as previous “first off the assembly line” Corvettes have sold for big bucks. A lot of it has to do with the mood of the economy. So, we never know and predictions are often way off.

Next month at the Mecum Kissimmee Auction, January 5 – 14, a truly rare ZR-1 Corvette will hit the auction block. The Lot Number is, S165. When the ZR-1 finally came out as a 1990 Corvette is was a very big deal. This was truly an exotic Corvette with its Lotus DOHC all-aluminum engine and wide body. Tommy Morrison’s race-prepared, but stock, ZR-1 shattered speed endurance records, thus legitimately giving the ZR-1 the nickname, “King of the Hill.”

To see the BIG version of the ZR-1 prototype’s Build Sheet, CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE.

Engineering prototypes and mule Corvettes are typically stripped of their good parts and then sent to the crusher; a terrible fate. But sometimes, a few are saved. According to Mecum, the ZR-1 that will be auctioned off next month is one-of-two “known” C4 ZR-1 prototypes; 25 prototypes were build in July 1987. Mecum’s experts estimate that the car will sell for between $190,000-to-$225,000, but we’ll see. That’s why I’ll be recording the auction and posting it to our Corvette Report YouTube channel. 

Below are the key points about the car and you can read more about the car’s background HERE. Even at the low end of $190,000 (which is a lot of money), if that’s what the car goes for, it will be “well bought”.

Corvette history is indeed rich and now that we have seen the fourth incarnation of the ZR-1 (C3 1970-1972, C4 1990-1995, C6 2009-2014, and now the C7 ZR1) it’ll be fun to see how much the market values this fascinating piece of Corvette history. It’s a survivor engineering prototype – pretty cool! – Scott

Here’s the Lot Number, S165.

And here are more details about the car…


  • 1 of 2 existing 1988 King of the Hill Prototypes
  • Vehicle built before the name ZR1 was decided upon
  • 1 of 25 Built in July 1987
  • Engineering data tag EX5023
  • Used by Lotus in Hethel, England for development
  • Utilized for engine calibration and emissions certifications
  • Tested at the Milford Proving grounds
  • Ordered scrapped by General Motors in 1990
  • At time of restoration, the original suspension, frame and most of the body tub were intact
  • Fiberglass body panels and portion of rear upper surround sourced from a 1989 pre-production Corvette
  • Lotus-designed, Mercury Marine-built Phase II LT5 engine, the 43rd one built
  • ZF 6-speed transmission
  • Medium Blue Metallic with Bright Blue interior
  • New interior in 2017 with exception of original console plate with power key
  • 8,000 RPM tachometer not available on production cars
  • ZR1 prototype wheels, 11 inch width
  • Experimental Goodyear Gatorback tires with ‘not for sale’ molded on the inside
  • Featured in Anthony Young’s “Heart of the Beast: History of the LT5 V-8 and ZR1 Corvette”
  • Shown at the 2010 C4 Gathering at the National Corvette Museum
  • Handwritten engine book from Lotus
  • Build sheet