A Little White Corvette
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Bram Wahl
Debuting at Artomobilia for the very first time is an Arctic White 1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 owned by Zionsville resident and business owner Paul Lewis. Lewis, a lifelong Corvette enthusiast, will also be making his first appearance at Artomobilia as an exhibitor. Lewis’ passion for cars began in 1967 when, at the age of 18, he saw a Marina Blue 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427 and fell in love with it.
“It was the most beautiful car that I’d ever seen,” Lewis said. “My whole life I’ve wanted one, and finally when I was 68 [years old], I got one. I spent three years hunting down all of the original parts, and now it has all original parts down to the battery. It’s a crowd-pleaser everywhere I drive it, but the car that I’ve been asked to bring to Artomobilia is my 1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. I was told that [Artomobilia] has never had one exhibited before, so I will bring it out for people to see a very unique Corvette.”
When asked what makes that year and model unique compared to other Corvettes, Lewis replied, “The first time the ZR1 model appeared was in 1990. In 1971 and ’72, GM [General Motors] had a ZR1 package on the C3 car—known as the ‘Shark’—but it wasn’t an actual model until 1990 when GM released the ZR1 model.
“I always like to get the last car that they [GM] made of a particular run because they’ve figured out all the bugs and fixed everything,” Lewis said. “The last car is generally the best one mechanical-wise and performance-wise. An interesting thing about the ZR1 is GM didn’t have an engine that would perform like they wanted—they were trying to compete with Porsche and Ferrari—and fit in the car. So at that time, GM owned Lotus Racing from England, and they reached out to Lotus and asked them if they had an engine that they could put into the [new] Corvette and, lo and behold, they did, and they agreed to give GM the engine.”
A fun fact that many car enthusiasts may not know about the 1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is that this was the only time in GM’s history that they didn’t assemble the engine at the GM plant. As Lewis stated, “They [GM] didn’t have the wherewithal to do it. GM had the engines assembled by Mercury Marine in Oklahoma City. Mercury Marine is renowned for making boat motors.”
Lewis’ ZR1 has 407 horsepower and will do zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, topping out at 187 mph. It retailed in 1995 for $70,000.
“Most of the ZR1s sold for $85,000 to $100,000,” Lewis said. “They sold over sticker in 1995 because only 448 were made, and there aren’t many of them out there. My car is number 439 and is one of the 41 Arctic White ZR1s ever produced, which is another reason why I think Artomobilia wanted my car at the show.”
Lewis recently entered his ZR1 in the Bloomington Gold Corvette Exhibition and won their BENCHMARK award.
“For the ‘survivor’ judging portion, I had to drive my car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway three times to show them that it could do it, and they graded my car for originality. I was told that I was one of very few people to get 400 out of 400 points and zero deductions on the ‘survivor’ side of the judging. That was pretty awesome. I also entered my car in the NCRS [National Corvette Restoration Society] show, and it scored a 99% for having mostly original parts. It even has the original tires. The only things in or on the car that are not original are the battery and license plate. But I do have ‘1995 ZR1’ on the license plate! I hope that when people come out to Artomobilia, they will ask questions and learn about the history of the car. It really is an icon car for Corvette. My car has only 3,300 miles, so it’s pretty much a brand-new car, and people will be able to see what these cars looked like when they came out of the factory.”