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Watch A 1990 Chevy Corvette ZR-1 Drag Race Stock C4 And C5 Corvettes

The C4 version of the Corvette ZR-1 is an underrated supercar. Looking like a standard Corvette, its heart is a Lotus-designed 32-valve dual overhead cam V8 producing 375 horsepower. Extremely fast by the standards of the time, it set a 24-hour endurance run averaging 175.9 mph and is still fast today.

How fast? That’s what the team at TFL Classics decided to find out. They set up a drag race between a 1990 Corvette ZR-1 and a 1988 L98 Corvette. The owner of the ZR-1 made some performance modifications and thinks his car makes about 425 horsepower, 180 more than the regular Corvette.  

The L98 Corvette puts up a fight, running a 16-second quarter mile at 89 mph, but it’s no match for the ZR-1 which does it in 14.5 seconds at 109 mph. A rolling start produces similar results, with the ZR-1 running away as it gets into the meat of its powerband. At 5,000 RPM, the base Corvette starts to get winded while the ZR-1 continues to pull hard, peaking at almost 6,000 RPM.   

What about compared to the updated C5 Corvette? Starting with an all-new 350-horsepower LS1 and a six-speed manual transmission, the C5 looks like a better match for the “King of the Hill” ZR-1. Unlike the ZR-1, the C5 utilizes a rear transaxle, the first generation to do so, giving it a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. 

It’s still not close. The 1999 Corvette C5 runs the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds, topping out at 99 mph, while the ZR-1 makes a pass at 14.38 seconds and 108 mph. Even with better weight distribution, there’s no getting around the ZR-1’s additional horsepower from the higher-revving LT-5 engine. 

But what’s most amazing about all three Corvettes is their durability. The ZR-1 in this video has over 150,000 miles on the clock and the owner drove it for three hours to get to the video shoot. The other two cars serve as daily drivers and were purchased for less than $15,000. It proves yet again that when cared for, an old Corvette can last over 300,000 miles and provide years of inexpensive fun. 

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