’70-’72 ZR-1 Street Legal Racer

In 1970 Chevrolet Corvette introduced to the racing world a new street legal racing machine. The racer was dubbed the ZR-1.

Production was limited to 1970, ’71, and ’72. Altogether for the three years, ZR-1 Corvettes totals 53 cars; 25 were produced in 1970, 8 in 1971, and 20 in 1972. Racers saw the natural roll bar effect of the coupe as a safety advantage and, as a result, there are few convertibles.

What is a ZR-1 Corvette? A ZR-1 Corvette is an LT-1 equipped Corvette produced in 1970, ’71, or ’72. ZR-1’s were specially equipped with all the heavy duty racing equipment that had previously been used on the L-88 Corvettes of 1967, ’68, and ’69. The only other Corvettes to receive this special group of heavy duty racing equipment in a package were the ZR-2 in 1971. The ZR-1 included the LT-1 engine, M-22 transmission, heavy duty J56 power brakes, transistorized ignition, special aluminum radiator, and special springs, shocks, and front and rear stabilizer bars.

ZR-1 identification features: (1) LT-1 engine, suffix CTV-1970, CGY-1971, or CKY-1972, (2) J-56 heavy duty brake package with dual pin front brake calipers (power), (3) F-41 heavy duty suspension package 7 leaf rear spring, heavy duty shock absorbers, heavy duty 5/8″ front sway bar and heavy duty rear spindle struts, (4) M-22 (rockcrusher) transmission, (5) large aluminum radiator with expansion tank (no other LT-1 equipped car has an expansion tank), (6) steel fan shroud, other than 1972’s (most), (7) radio delete (no fenders drilled for antenna).

The ZR-1 package could not be ordered with any creature comforts, ie: air conditioning, power windows, power steering, radio, alarm system, rear window defroster, or special trim items like P02 wheel covers.

The ZR-1 cars are the rarest small block Corvettes ever produced. The most common ZR-1 (the 1970) has only 5 more than the rarest L-88 (1967 – 20 units total). The ZR-1 cars are about five times rarer than L-88 cars.

Introduced during the 1970 model year, the first ZR1 was given no pre-production hype, no road tests in exotic locations, no “leaked” photographs, no engineering details. “Nothing”. The car was on its own and only because Chevrolet was not involved in racing. But the corporate back door was wide open, especially if the GM execs were not looking! Out of that back door came the ZR1. Based on the L88 chassis, the small-block-powered racer was something of an enigma. How could you sell such a car if no one knew about it? Well, with racers being what they were (and are), the information slowly leaked out and 25 fortunate owners tested the very first ZR1’s (Zora’s Racer 1?), that’s right, they were created, named and championed after the innovative “Zora Duntov, Corvettes leading engineer

note: portions of this article were taken from Vette Vues Magazine,

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