By Mike Berry
The Wichita Eagle
When it comes to collector vehicles, James Andrews’ tastes run the gamut.
On a typical day, he might slip behind the wheel of a beautifully restored SS-badged 1970 Chevelle four-door station wagon. Or if he needs even more passenger/cargo room, he might choose his big diesel-powered 1955 Flxible bus, which he’s transformed into a modernized, fully equipped RV.
But if he needs to get somewhere in a hurry, there’s really only one choice: his 1994 Lingenfelter-engined C4 ZR-1 Corvette.
“The car is just a rocket ship. It is scary fast. It accelerates as fast or faster than the new supercharged Corvettes of today,” Andrews said. “It is astonishing to me that a car that is naturally aspirated (non-supercharged) and has archaic 20-year-old engine management systems is still relevant to today’s top fastest cars.”
In fact, this particular engine, a 4-cam, 32-valve Lingenfelter Performance-built power plant was dyno-tested at 688 horsepower at the flywheel. It first proved its prowess in 1998, clocking an astonishing top speed of 218 mph in another Corvette ZR-1 in Road and Track Magazine’s “Fastest Street Legal Cars in America” competition.
The legendary Mario Andretti agreed to drive several high-end super cars for the honors. The Corvette actually recorded a higher speed than the $1.5 million McLaren F1, but the Vette fouled a plug in the process, meaning it could not pass the emissions test, Andrews explained. So technically, it wasn’t “street legal.”