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.
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:
||1985 Corvette||1986 Corvette|
|1987 Corvette||1988 Corvette||1989 Corvette|
|1990 Corvette||1991 Corvette
|1993 Corvette||1994 Corvette||1995 Corvette|
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