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1990 Corvette
This 1990 Corvette convertible wears the optional hardtop and rear-deck luggage rack. See more sports car pictures.

All 1990 Corvettes benefited from a standard driver's-side airbag, installed to meet the first phase of the federal government's "passive restraint" crash-protection regulations. Also for safety's sake, the car's antilock braking system was upgraded with improved yaw control that allowed for more-secure handling. The base engine received a slight bump up to 245 bhp through an added air-intake speed density control system, a revised camshaft and increased compression ratio (this was 250 bhp in coupes with the 3.07:1 or 3.33:1 axle ratios). A newly efficient sloped radiator design precluded the need for an auxillary fan, which was no longer available for 1990.

A revised instrument display now combined a digital speedometer with an analog tachometer and other gauges. An engine-oil monitor now calculated the useful oil life remaining in miles and alerted drivers when an oil-change was needed via a dashboard indicator. A compact disc player was newly available with the optional Delco-Bose audio system, and it now included a security lockout feature to discourage theft; if removed, a special code had to be entered or the head unit would remain inoperative.

Twenty-three Corvettes with heavy-duty suspensions were built during 1990 for the new World Challenge racing series and could be obtained via regular dealer channels. Buyers could choose a Chevy engine or provide one of their own, though any further modifications were left to the racers.

1990 Corvette
The ZR-1 looked much like any other 1990 Corvette coupe, something that disappointed many fans.

Though overall alterations would be minor, 1990 would prove to be a major model year for the Corvette because it marked the introduction of the high-performance ZR-1 version, which was actually a $27,016 option package. Originally intended as a midyear 1989 model and previewed with a massive media campaign, the ZR-1 was eventually postponed until 1990 due to "insufficient availability of engines." Based around an all-new 32-valve 375-bhp V-8 called the LT5 (developed in conjunction with Lotus and built by Mercury Marine), the ZR-1 was a true production supercar that could run with even the most exotic imports. The Callaway twin-turbo was still available at an extra $26,895, but it languished in favor of the new ZR-1, selling just 58 units. Overall sales dropped a bit for the year, down to 23,646.Still, of that number, 3,049 ZR-1-equipped models were sold to buyers who had long saved a place on a waiting list. Many gladly paid well in excess of list price to be among the first to own what was the new epitome of American muscle, and a true Corvette classic.

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1984 Corvette
1985 Corvette
1986 Corvette
1987 Corvette
1988 Corvette
1989 Corvette
1990 Corvette 1991 Corvette
1992 Corvette
1993 Corvette
1994 Corvette
1995 Corvette
1996 Corvette


Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.