Prototype 1988 Corvette ZR-1 “King of the Hill” Restoration

This 1988 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 was the subject of a restoration featured on by it’s owner, forum member “BlueFlameRestorations”. It is an actual pre-production “King of the Hill” factory prototype that was found in totally thrashed condition in a U.K. wrecking yard. It’s new owner brought the crushed remnants back to his home in Indiana in 2010 and documented his restoration of it, which he planned to have finished in time for a C4 gathering less than a year later at the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The thread shows many interesting pictures of it’s parts labeled with hand written “KOH”, as the ZR-1 moniker hadn’t even been established yet when this early prototype was made…

2 17It’s DANA tag on the engine cradle is seen in the picture above and directly below with “King of the Hill” printed on it and a production date of April 1987, although the model was not officially produced until 1990. More pictures of parts with KOH written on it follow below.6 5 3There is no background history on why or how it ended up in England, but we suspect that it’s because ZR-1’s were engineered at Lotus Group since GM’s previous acquisition of them back in 1986. They designed and built the C4’s aluminum block 32 valve V8 quad cam LT-5 engines with 375 horsepower, along with steering, brake and suspension modifications to back it up. Since prototypes are supposed to be crushed by the factory after their development cycle is finished, we are figuring that is the explanation of why this one was left for dead.
14Luckily, many NOS parts were located for the build, including 3 birdcages with no VIN numbers stamped on them. These were originally used by General Tire in Indiana for panel fitment since they made the panels for GM.
5020Roll over hoop and windshield frame parts, NOS ZR-1 rear upper surround panel and luggage tub were all able to be sourced, as well.
25Luckily, the tub’s geometry was not altered when it was crushed, which brings us to the next phase of the project- it’s “Phase II” engine with typically prototype rough castings and no ID. Unfortunately, despite the otherwise detailed accuracy of the build, this car was not being restored to be drivable again as it’s prototype engine is said to be too delicate over 4k rpm. Hopefully since then there has been a fully functioning engine installed, if road registration is ever possible on such a pre-production vehicle.
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In any case, we are still impressed with the detail of this prototype ZR-1’s restoration which was finished in time for his goal of showing it at the 2011 Bowling Green event, all except for completion of it’s interior. We just hope that it didn’t end up becoming one of the “Sinkhole Corvettes”…38 42 39Find the full build thread HERE37Source

1 Comment on Prototype 1988 Corvette ZR-1 “King of the Hill” Restoration

  1. I wonder if he asked the DVLA in the UK for information regarding the number plate. For a few pounds they will divulge anything regarding registration previous history of the former owners .Sometimes you just get the chassis number ansd and number previous owners but it might point out why thwe car was crushed or involved in an accident. Also,I couldn’t see Lotus building an engine that was ‘delicate” over 4000 RPM….

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