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.
When Buddy expressed interest in purchasing another Corvette to add to their garage, wife Lorna's reply was, "Only if they made it as a convertible." Buddy knew the ZR-1 only came as a coupe, so his hopes were quickly deflated. Friend and fellow Corvette enthusiast, Steve Blunk, taunted Buddy with his own ZR-1, twisting the knife just a little more. While burning away the evening hours in front of the computer screen, Buddy happened across this unusual triple-white ZR-1 on eBay. General Motors produced well over 4,000 Corvettes in white that year (the only color to beat that number in 1992 was Bright Red with 4,466 units), so yet another white Corvette wasn't that special, but the white leather seats and door panels combined with the white roof panels made for an unexpected combination. Buddy approached Lorna again, and this time she relinquished her firm stand for a convertible.
Buddy came out the victor of the internet bidding war and prearranged to have the Corvette shipped sight unseen to their home in Indiana. Many people would be leery of making such a deal, but since the ZR-1 was sold via an auto dealership in Massachusetts, Buddy and Lorna felt comfortable with the arrangements. Only after the transporter arrived in front of their home did Buddy get to wrap his hands around his ZR-1. After a quick study, Buddy noticed the only modifications made to the performance-bred Corvette was a battery cut-off switch and a built-in radar detector, indications the previous owner had been aware that having fun with nearly 400 hp on public highways doesn't come without its cost.
With his newest acquisition, Buddy needed to clear out some room in his garage. A base '92 Corvette was quickly sold off to make room for the '92 ZR-1.
Rumor has it that only twelve ZR-1s were ordered with the brilliant triple-white color combination since leather was only optional during the '92 and '93 model years. You may have noticed the white wheels. Buddy says the original owner had the original ZR1 wheels painted to match the car after he took delivery. Since the Hodgdons don't own a car trailer or dedicated tow vehicle, their entire collection of gorgeous Corvettes are driven constantly. Buddy not only loves the power produced by the Lotus/Chevrolet LT5, but is amazed at its dependability. The ZR-1 has served diligently as the sole transportation to several Corvette shows, including Bloomington Gold, Corvettes at Carlisle, and anywhere else the Circle City Corvette Club of Indianapolis ventures. In addition to being driven to events, the Corvette takes home consistent accolades and awards for its originality and pristine condition.
That is why we knew we needed to feature this particular C4. many would cringe at the idea of driving such a rare and sought-after piece of Corvette history, but with only 35,200 miles on the odometer and so much more to see, Buddy and Lorna know the Corvette has a lot a miles left to travel before they hang up the keys.