Farm-Find C4 Corvette ZR-1 Saved from British Field

by Nate Petroelje
2 May 2024 3 min read
Farm-Find C4 Corvette ZR-1 Saved from British Field
(Images: YouTube/The Late Brake Show)

Here at Hagerty, we love barn finds of all types, but we have a soft spot for ones that feature an exciting, historic car popping up in a place that makes us ask, “How’d that get there?”

YouTube channel The Late Brake Show posted a video recently that ticked those boxes for us. In the episode, which you can watch in full below, host Jonny Smith takes us to an undisclosed location in the east of England – just a few kilometres from where he lives, in fact – to attempt a rescue on a C4 Corvette. Now, the idea of a C4 in England is compelling enough, but this one is no humdrum C4; this is the world-beating ZR-1.

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And “rescue” is indeed the term we’d pick to describe what this one needs. You can see the moss growing in the window trim and the roof panels, and you can tell that it’s endured years of hard, rainy weather.

Under that long, forward-opening clamshell bonnet sits this car’s tie to Britain: The fabled 32-valve, quad-cam, LT5 V8. Smith spends the opening part of the show walking through the history of this engine, and just why it was so special in the C4 Corvette. The engine was a blank-sheet design, massively complex relative to the single-cam, pushrod V8s that had been in Corvettes up to this point. Lotus Engineering, owned by GM at the time, helped with the engine’s design, and Mercury Marine assembled the all-aluminium mill.

Corvette C4 ZR1 Late Brake Show

The resulting ZR-1 was the fastest Corvette yet, and a hallmark moment for a nameplate that has, throughout history, made quite a name for itself by punching above its weight. However, fewer than 7000 ZR-1s were built, owing to several factors working against it in-period.

Smith spends some time talking to Will, the owner of the car. Will shares the story of how he came to love American cars through time spent working harvests in North America, and he notes that this ZR-1 is the fourth Corvette he’s owned among other American cars, too. Will shares the all-too-common story about how the Corvette used to see regular use, but over time, and for practical reasons, it hit the road less and less. Then, as life got more complicated and expensive, he parked it entirely.

Corvette C4 ZR1 Late Brake Show

The car is finally seeing the light of day because Will is selling it to new owners, Llewellyn and Chris, who we meet part way through the video. The two are optimistic about the prospect of getting it running, despite the weathered state of the fibreglass bodywork and the moss in the windows.

Smith goes through the car with the owners, and their appreciation for what this ZR-1 represented is obvious. The typical barn-find precautions are taken, from disconnecting fuel lines to prevent pushing nasty fuel further into the system to rocking the car to check seized brakes. They’ve brought a bore scope along to check the cylinders, and the news seems positive.

Corvette C4 ZR1 Late Brake Show

Throughout the rest of the video, you can sense the enthusiasm around every aspect of this car, from the state of various mechanical systems to the contraband they find inside the interior. (Check out that jacket!) Despite being unable to get the car running through clutch-dump starts or other measures, the pair remain optimistic about the potential here. Chris and Llewlleyn are planning to document the restoration process on their own YouTube channel, which should be fun to follow along with.

Seeing any interesting car saved from a slow, unceremonious demise is always pleasing, but watching it happen with a C4 Corvette so out of place clearly shows the global appeal of the Corvette nameplate. Best of luck to Chris and Llewellyn; we can’t wait to see the finished product.

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