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.
Spares anyone? With four ZR-1s...
Spares anyone? With four ZR-1s in the house, having a spare ZR-1 engine or two (the latter, in the case of Bill Martin) is great insurance.
"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.