1972 Corvette ZR1 Rarest Small Block Ever

1972 Corvette ZR1

How rare is an original 1972 Corvette ZR1? Classic Corvette collectors will tell you that the 1972 C3 Corvette ZR1 is as rare as the ultimate Corvette muscle car, the 1967 Corvette L88. 

It almost went unnoticed this week when an original 1972 Corvette ZR1 was listed for sale on Cars-On-Line.com in their famous Corvette Section. It was listed by a small classic car dealer in Manitowoc, Wisconsin known as Diversion Motors. Owner Rick Precore is active in racing circles in the Midwest and will sell special cars for his friends and clients. But this is not just another listing. This is huge. A first generation Corvette ZR1 seldom changes hands in the public market. Here is an amazing opportunity for Corvette collectors. (Follow this link to see more photos and history.) 

Diversion Motor’s 1972 Corvette ZR1 will be the talk of the Corvette community this week, not only for its rarity, but for its originality. The car comes with only 311 actual miles. That’s not a misprint. This Corvette ZR1 was never titled. You just can’t find an original, low-mile Corvette this rare anywhere. 

1972 Corvette ZR1

In another way of looking at it, the 1972 Corvette ZR1 was the rarest small block Corvette ever built, with just 20 cars ordered in 1972. This one from Diversion Motors remains essentially as it left the factory. It has all of its factory paint, a completely original interior, a numbers-matching drivetrain, and all the other original items so desirable on classic Corvettes. But this ZR1 takes it a step further. The original assembly line markings are present. The part number decals are still legible on the tailpipes. All five tires are original, date coded the 7th week of 1972. It has its original air filter. Further, this car was never dealer prepped, and  still has the factory plastic plug in the clutch bellcrank. For Corvette collectors, it just doesn’t get any better than this ZR1.

Starting in 1970, the ZR1 performance package included an M22 heavy duty close ratio 4-speed transmission, J50-J56 heavy duty power brakes, and F41 heavy duty suspension system. The Muncie M22 was equipped with a lighweight flywheel. This was a racing package for very special Corvette buyers. All were radio delete and most came without a radiator shroud. 

The Corvette C3 ZR1’s were only built form 1970 to 1972 with the second year being the lowest production numbers of all three years. In 1970, the first generation Corvette ZR1 was produced by Chevrolet to replace the L88 big block for racing teams. It came with the potent, solid lifter LT1 350 ci small block and all the options formally on the L88 Corvettes, including a Harrison aluminum radiator, heavy-duty suspension and larger brakes. If you wanted to order Corvette’s most powerful package you used the RPO code ZR1. Thus came the name Corvette ZR1. The rest was history. 

During the three years in which the C3 Corvette ZR1 was offered there were only 53 ZR1 code Corvettes produced. These were the only three years in which the LT1 was offered also. One of the reasons so few ZR1 Corvettes were ordered is because the ZR1 package cost an extra $1,000. You could not get power windows, power steering, air conditioning, or even a radio (note the absence of ignition shielding). The 1972 model even omitted a fan shroud as the ZR1 was really not meant for the street.

For those Corvette historians who keep records they say there are only nine of these 1972 Corvette ZR1 race ready factory cars left in existence. The one you see pictured here comes with its original window sticker sticker and warranty book with Protect-O-Plate. In fact, the documentation on this car is amazing. The original purchase agreement, dealer order form, and dealer invoice will come with the sale. All manuals and keys are also available. There is even the original Drive A Way tag from Lou Bachrodt Chevrolet. It includes everything a collector could want.   

In 2010, the 1972 Corvette ZR1 received the NCRS Duntov award, and then in 2012 it earned Bloomington Gold Benchmark certification. 

Is it the best classic Corvette muscle car on the market today? Diversion Motors certainly thinks so. 

1972 Corvette ZR1

1972 Corvette ZR1 LT1 small block engine


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