1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Could Become Most Expensive ‘Vette Ever Sold

Despite being built in 1969, this Corvette has a whopping 560 horsepower—and that’s only part of why it’s expected to fetch up to $3 million.

byPeter Holderith| PUBLISHED Dec 29, 2022 5:00 PM
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Could Become Most Expensive ‘Vette Ever Sold
RM Sotheby's
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The Chevy Corvette may be special, but it's far from rare. There are specific trims and versions that do demand high prices on account of their low production numbers, though. Split-window C2s, quad-cam C4 ZR1s, and arguably the king of rare 'Vettes, the C3 ZL-1. At the time, it was the most powerful Corvette ever, sporting a truly impressive 560-horsepower aluminum big block. Just two were built, and one of them is now coming up for sale for the first time in three decades.

Appropriately, it's orange. It's also a convertible with positively zero rollover protection, making it a very tempting deathtrap if there ever was one. It was restored meticulously in 2014, but it still appears to sport bias-ply tires. RM Sothebys, who is auctioning the car off in Arizona in a few weeks, estimates its hammer price will land somewhere between $2.6 million and $3 million.

The 427 cubic-inch V8 (7.0 liters) is backed up by a three-speed automatic transmission. The RM Sothebys listing claims it's "perfect for clutch dumps." Yeah, not so sure about that.

Not even Chevy in the late 1960s was irresponsible enough to put 560 horsepower in a car with bias-ply tires and not upgrade anything else. Heavy-duty brakes were installed, which include front disks, and heavy-duty suspension was also thrown in, along with a limited-slip differential.

This car's engine, which features a slew of upgrades over any other 427 Chevy offered at the time, is not original to the car. That unit blew up and was replaced under warranty by the automaker in 1969. It's about as close to original as it gets, though.

This ZL-1 comes with more documents than you'll find in the Library of Congress. Everything that's ever been done to it has been carefully recorded. Some of the stuff legitimately looks like the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you have $3 million burning a hole in your pocket, be in Phoenix, Arizona on Jan. 26, 2023. That's when the car will be auctioned, and when a record for the most expensive Corvette ever sold may be set. The current record-holder is a 1967 Chevy Corvette L88 Coupe, a C2, which sold at auction in 2014 for $3.85 million.

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