In the grand old game of poker, four-of-a-kind is usually enough for a winning hand; but let's face it-nothing is better than a full house. Bill Martin of Greenville, South Carolina, always plays with a full house, which includes four Corvette ZR-1s, two LT5 motors still in the crates, and a spare six-speed ZF gearbox. Now that's a winning hand no matter how you look at it.
Martin, a diehard Corvette enthusiast since the early '60s, has owned many of our favorite automobiles, his first a rare fuel-injected '62 red/black hardtop with a four-speed transmission that was clocked at 103 mph in the quarter-mile in stock trim.
Others included a blue '65 convertible with both soft and hard tops, purchased in nearby Greer, South Carolina, for an amazing $2,100. In addition, he has a second red '65 hardtop and a '77 L82/automatic. Then, after going "cold turkey" for nearly 10 years, Bill bought an '89 red/red automatic, which he called the "best new Corvette I ever owned." The '89 red/red automatic is still in the family, now owned by Bill's son Chris. But his current stable of ZR-1s brings him the most pleasure. These include a black/black '93, a red/black '94, and a yellow/black '95, all bone-stock and original. Bill's newest acquisition is a beautiful, slightly modified red/red '95 that originally sold for nearly $100,000. "I'm like a lot of members of the Corvette community," said Bill. "I've worked hard all my life and these four ZR-1s are a 'reward' to myself for that work."
Bill began acquiring his "full house" back in 1998 with the help of his son. "My son brought me a Corvette-Chevy Trader around Christmas of 1998," said Bill. "I was recuperating from knee surgery, started looking through it, and I came across the black '93. It had been years since I'd thought about a ZR-1, but back when they were new I couldn't afford one anyway.
"I called the salesman, asking about the mileage and other specifics on the car. Well, the car had about 11,000 miles on it, which was great for a car of that age," continued Bill. "They were asking $39,000 for it, and I've found that ZR-1s of that price range and low mileage are usually in pretty good shape. Well, I bought it sight-unseen and have never regretted buying it.
"The story of how I got my hands on the black-on-black '93 was funny. Granted, this may have been the salesman's pitch, but this guy told me he had a couple of people looking at it and he was expecting one of them back in about 20 minutes. I told him I'd take it. He called me later in the day and said the couple came back and, boy, were they mad. Oh, well; you snooze, you lose!"
With ZR-1 fever, it wasn't six months until Bill acquired his next car-a '94 red-on-black sporting 12,000 miles and a $42,000 price tag. This car is also the only one in his current ZR-1 stable that has ever required any repair, that being a leaking clutch slave cylinder and a noisy rear differential, both replaced with new units. Yes, Bill had the original rebuilt and still has it as a spare.
Faced with the possibility of needing replacement parts for a very rare car, and, after reading about GM's upcoming sale of complete, ready-to-install LT5 powerplants, Bill called the local dealer.