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George Bonafede’s ’90 ZR-1 Corvette

George Bonafede satisfies his very grownup need for speed with his ’90 ZR-1

Tom Rounds Jul 1, 2000

Step By Step

To this day, when George Bonafede backs his ’90 ZR-1 out of the garage, he can’t believe it’s his Corvette. Thirteen years ago, George owned a ’69 with a 600-horse 427 that he sold because he became financially challenged. At that time, he vowed to own another Corvette as soon as circumstances allowed. When the ’88 ZR-1 hit the showroom floor he knew there’d be no turning away—a ZR-1 was now the only Corvette that would do.

Then, in 1995, while looking through Sportcar Trader magazine, he spotted an ad for a black-with-gray-interior ’90 ZR-1 with only 2,500 miles on the odometer. He contacted the original owner and learned that the car had never seen any rain and had been babied from the day it left the showroom. George bought it on the spot without so much as a testdrive.

After purchasing the ZR-1, George occasionally raced in quarter-mile and autocross. With the car stock, its best time in the quarter-mile was 13.70 at 106. That wasn’t good enough, and prompted George to add some performance goodies to the car. Only two months after bringing the car home, George added a new Tri-Flow exhaust and a lowering kit. In an attempt to get the car to hook up better, a new set of Fittipaldi 17x10 rims in the front and 17x11-½ on the rear were wrapped in Bridgestone Pontenzas. Next, a Free Flow intake and a custom chip helped remove a few tenths off the quarter-mile time, but this still wasn’t enough. George added 2-inch Watson ceramic-coated headers, a Centerforce clutch, Single Mass flywheel, and 4.09 gears in the rear to get the time down to 12.70 at 114.

George’s need for speed drove him to continue with the performance enhancements: 63mm throttle bodies, ported and matched plenum and injector housing, and a 120hp nitrous system were put into place. This gave him his best time to date—a quarter-mile run of 12.30 at 120 on street tires. Currently the ZR-1 is having a lightweight flywheel installed and set of Viper 4.11 Dana gears put into the rearend to help stand up to the increased power. Finally, George will put a set of drag radials on the back with the hope of reaching his under-11-second goal; if that doesn’t do it, only George knows what’s next for the ZR-1.

He says the car won’t be raced anymore once he reaches this goal; he only needs to know the power is there when he wants it.

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