2019 Corvette ZR1 vs 1990 ZR1: How Far We’ve Come

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Corvette ZR1

It’s fun to reminisce about the past. But there’s no denying the freight train of progress that is the 2019 Corvette ZR1.

For most of us, 1990 doesn’t seem like that long ago. But it’s actually been 28 years since the dawn of the grunge era. And that’s a long time by any standards. Especially in the automotive world, where technology moves at a rapid pace. This is especially true of the Corvette ZR1, a car that has served as a technological showcase for GM since its inception. Chevy obviously produced cars sporting that special nameplate decades earlier. But many consider the 1990 ZR1 to be the first of a whole new breed.

The ’90 ZR1 was a proper revelation, offering up performance rivaling cars that cost twice as much. Its double-overhead cam LT5, built in tandem with Mercury Marine Company and Lotus Engineering, produced a healthy 375 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. It went 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. Clearly, that’s a far cry from the 2019 Corvette ZR1 with its 755 hp and 2.85-second 0-60. But that’s what we like to call progress.

Corvette ZR1

Automobile Magazine was lucky enough to drive these two legends back-to-back and see just how much progress we’ve made in nearly three decades. And their driver was, of course, racing driver Andy Pilgrim, a man who just happened to have raced ZR1s back in 1990 with Morrison Motorsports. And he has fond memories of the car, to say the least. “The whole package was astonishing for a production car, and the experience of driving that “red rocket” all those years ago is forever welded into my brain.” he recalled.


ALSO SEE: 2019 Corvette ZR1 Runs 10.12 Quarter-Mile


So how does the new Corvette ZR1 compare to the old one? Well, Pilgrim noted that hard braking “dutifully spit my eyeballs out of my head.” The sound? “I really have never heard a production car sound this much like a race car in both tone and volume.” And in the process of his testing, Pilgrim also happened to set a new lap record for OE tire-equipped production cars: 2:05.59. Which just happens to be several seconds faster than any other car has ever managed.

Corvette ZR1

Proving once again that nostalgia is great, but progress cannot be denied.

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Corvette Forum, Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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