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Saturday, October 1, 2022

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 experimental active suspension prototype for sale, again

A 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 prototype used to test an experimental active suspension system is up for sale for the second time in four months.

This car was listed in Hemmings in October 2021 with an $89,500 asking price, and now it’s popped up again on eBay. It appears to be listed by the same Miami-based seller, with the same asking price as before.

As a refresher, this is one of four survivors (although the eBay listing says three) of a group of 25 prototypes from the active-suspension project. That project was a joint effort with Lotus, which was owned by General Motors at the time and was heavily involved in the development of the C4 Corvette ZR-1.

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 active suspension prototype (photo via Hemmings)

While active suspension is used on some road cars today, it was limited to Formula One race cars in 1990. GM sought to adapt the technology from the Lotus F1 program (one of the first to experiment with active suspension) to road cars.

The result was a prototype active-suspension system that used hydraulics to adapt to different road conditions, with a Delco computer controlling everything. Those components are still on the car, which, along with its chassis number, identify it as one of the active-suspension prototypes.

GM allegedly saw positive results after testing prototypes in both Germany and at the Daytona International Speedway, but the system would have likely been too expensive for road cars. The last time this prototype was offered for sale, the seller claimed active suspension would have raised the ZR-1’s price to $150,000.

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 active suspension prototype (photo via Hemmings)

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 active suspension prototype (photo via Hemmings)

Even without active suspension, the ZR-1 went on to become one of the greatest performance cars of the 1990s. Production ended in 1995, but the name lived on (minus the hyphen) in the C6 and C7 ZR1, that latter of which we named Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2019. With 755 hp, the C7 ZR1 is the most powerful production Corvette to date, but we expect it to be surpassed by the rumored C8 ZR1, predicted to have 850 hp.

It’s unclear if the seller of this prototype will get their asking price on the second attempt, but it’s worth noting that another C4 ZR-1 prototype brought $75,000 at auction in late 2020. That car was used by Lotus for engine-calibration testing, and is one of only two from its group to survive, according to its seller.

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