The auction site eBay has pretty much changed the face of the auto enthusiast market. It used to be to find the car of your dreams you would need to keep a sharp eye out while driving through neighborhoods, continually scour the weekly classifieds, or chase down every "wild goose" that crossed your way. While many savvy bargain shoppers and enthusiasts continue in this tradition, scores have turned to eBay to save the wasted hours and dashed hopes that car hunting can bring. The online auction forum has swelled exponentially, branching off a new appendage dedicated solely to the trade and sales of complete automobiles, rare parts, and engine components-ebaymotors.com. Nowadays, this web site stands as the barometer for most of the enthusiast market, dictating the "fair market value" of everything imaginable from aged and pitted hood ornaments to vintage Hilborn fuel-injection systems. For many Corvette enthusiasts, their time is far too valuable to dedicate to endless afternoons and weekends pursuing possible leads, which makes eBay the perfect forum for their performance appetite. Sunday morning swap meets and car show bartering are still in full swing, but are challenged by the after-work online shopper whose needed go-fast components are just a mouse-click away.
So it was with Buddy Hodgdon of Lebanon, Indiana. a Corvette enthusiast of the highest form, he owns a white '59 with Frost Blue coves roadster, a '78 Pace Car, and a '92 Polo Green convertible. Buddy's craving for something a little more aggressive was whetted by the legacy of the limited edition ZR-1.
When it came time for the General to introduce a performance edition for the Corvette lineup in 1990, the engineers and speed freaks in Bowling Green knew exactly where to turn. A contract was signed with Lotus, which employed the European super car builder to develop a new engine that would use a fair percentage of already produced parts for the Corvette, plus utilize the best performance technology available. What Chevrolet got was a L98-based engine topped with aluminum dual-overhead-camshaft-cylinder heads, operating with 32-valves, 4-per cylinder. The block remained mostly the same as the base 350ci L98 in the V-8's design, but was cast in aluminum. Produced by Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the renamed LT5 punched out a hearty 375 ponies, while still avoiding the dreaded Federal EPA "gas guzzler" tax. Despite the ample use of aluminum and other weight-saving materials, the LT5 still outweighed the base L98 by forty pounds. Due to the contractual nature of the LT5, most engines were returned to Mercury Marine for repairs or to be exchanged if the damage was too extravagant.
What made the ZR-1 option so desirable was the rarity in which it was produced. With base Corvette coupes selling for $33,635, the aforementioned performance package tacked on an additional $31,683 in 1992, literally doubling the final price of the Corvette. with Buddy's unique white-on-white with white roof panels, the price creeps up an added $950 for a final tab of $66,818.