When a Chevy has the nickname “Zora’s Racer” you know it must be a pretty special piece of GM performance machinery. Such is the case with this 1971 Corvette ZR2. Named after Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, the ZR2 entered the muscle car wars hiding in a fog of mystery. GM didn’t engage in any preproduction hype, there were no road tests, and not a single photo was leaked to get people talking.

What Is a ZR2 Special Purpose Corvette?

The RPO ZR2 Special Purpose LS6 Engine Package was the successor to the legendary racing-purposed L88. The ZR2 followed the same winning recipe combining the new 454/425-hp Mark IV big-block LS6 V-8 with the stout Muncie M22 close-ratio “Rock-Crusher” four-speed manual transmission, cutting-edge transistorized ignition, heavy-duty aluminum radiator (with shroud delete), heavy-duty power disc brakes, F41 Special Suspension with specific springs, shocks and special front and rear sway bars. As proof that Chevrolet considered this ‘Vette all about brute force performance, the ZR2s didn’t include A/C or a radio. Put it all together and the ZR2s were the best-handling big-block Corvettes ever put out by GM.

How Rare Are 1971 ZR2 Corvettes?

So, how rare is a 1971 ZR2 Corvette? Well, just 12 people could afford to buy one and only two of them were convertibles. The sticker price on this ZR2 was $7,672.80. Yeah, that sounds cheap these days, but in 1971 you could buy three Vegas or two really nice Chevelles for that price, so not many wanted to spend that sort of cash on a gas-guzzling monster ‘Vette with no A/C. This makes this one-of-two ZR2 drop-top one of the rarest big-block Corvettes in the brand’s history. But it gets better. You see, this one, with just 8,702 miles on the odometer, is the lowest-mileage ZR2 known to exist, and the only ZR2 that hasn’t been restored. It’s a true survivor that’s still in its original factory condition.

Due to production problems stemming from a union strike at the factory, the ZR2 was delayed until 1971, and didn’t end up with the planned LS7 engine, which never actually made it into production due to stricter regulations. The Chevy team still found a way to give the ’71 Corvette gobs of power with the 454 LS6, which put out 425 hp and 475 lb-ft—numbers considered to be underrated in reality.

In 1972, manufacturers switched from SAE gross to SAE net horsepower ratings, and it wasn’t long before the 1970 Clean Air Act and unleaded fuels started to force the lowering of compression ratios and performance. The 1971 LS6 454 did have a much lower ratio of 9.0:1 (the Chevelle had 11.25:1), but new open-chamber heads helped keep the power up despite the lower, pump-gas-friendly compression.

This extremely rare convertible 1971 Corvette ZR2 came from the famed Ed Foss Collection and is a highly documented, reference-grade Chevy with multiple awards under its belt. Still wearing its factory Brands Hatch Green paint (the other ZR2 convertible is orange) with black leather interior (a $158 option), this one-of-two ‘Vette has both the soft top and the far less common color-matched C07 hardtop option. Its overall presentation has earned many of the Corvette hobby’s most coveted awards, including induction into the Great Hall in 2011, when it also won the MCACN Triple Diamond Award recognizing Corvettes that have earned Bloomington Gold Certification, the NCRS Top Flight Award, and MCACN Concours Gold.

In 2015 it was crowned with the rare dual honors of Bloomington Gold Benchmark Certification and Survivor Certification, underlining its value to Corvette historians, judges, and future restorers in determining factory authenticity. Subsequently, the car again won NCRS Chapter Top Flight honors at the 2017 Indiana NCRS Spring Meet. As one should expect of such a rare and significant specimen, this ZR2 convertible is offered with full documentation that includes all award certificates and the prized Great Hall Medallion, the original Vehicle Purchase Order and Shipping Invoice and the original tank sticker and Protect-O-Plate. You can check out all the documentation at the Mecum Auction link below.

This super rare ZR2 Corvette is going up for sale, so if your wallet is fat and you want to add something special to your collection, check it out at the upcoming Mecum Auctions event in Indy (Lot S127).

Highlights of 1967 Yenko Super Camaro

  • From the Ed Foss Collection
  • Bloomington Gold Benchmark, Certified Survivor in 2015
  • NCRS Top Flight Award 2017
  • MCACN Triple Diamond Award 2011
  • The Great Hall Inductee 2011
  • 1 of 12 ZR2 Special Purpose engine packages produced, and 1 of only 2 convertible ZR2s
  • Unrestored with 8,702 miles, lowest mileage ZR2 known to exist
  • Documented with tank sticker, Protect-O-Plate, and dealer shipping order
  • The ZR2s are considered the rarest of big-block LS6 Corvettes ever produced
  • These cars were shrouded in mystery, with no pre-production hype, road tests, or leaked photographs
  • Based on the famous L88 chassis
  • Each ZR2 is known as “Zora’s Racer,” named for Zora Arkus-Duntov, lead engineer on the Corvette
  • LS6 454/425-hp engine
  • M22 4-speed close ratio heavy duty manual transmission
  • Brands Hatch Green exterior
  • Black leather interior
  • J56 special heavy duty power brakes
  • F41 special front and rear suspension
  • Auxiliary hardtop

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