C4 Corvette ZR1

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Number Five: C4 Corvette ZR1
Produced: 1990-1995
Number Built: 6,939

After surviving the ’80s with limited power and difficult transmissions, it was time for the Corvette team to get serious. So chief engineer Dave McLellan brought in a team of mad scientists from Lotus, and together, they created the almighty Corvette ZR1. To start, they threw out the standard Vette’s push-rod L98, and made an entirely new 5.7 liter V8 out of aluminum. Then they gave it 4-valves per cylinder, 4 camshafts, and a unique intake system which maximized power at full throttle. It also allowed the driver to reduce the engine’s 375HP down to 250HP, via a valet/teen driver switch.

Once the new LT5 engine was sorted out, the Lotus team worked their magic on the suspension. Using a computer, a set of adjustable Bilstein shocks, and some electric motors, the FX3 suspension was actually an early form of Active Suspension. With a dial in the cockpit, the suspension could be set for comfort (?Tour?), Sport or Track (?Perf?), then the computer would maintain the appropriate shock pressure based on the setting and the road conditions. This allowed the Corvette ZR-1 to pull an impressive 0.93g on the skidpad, which was quite a feat for the time.

Next: The 427 Returns…

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