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So you think the Corvette ZR1 is rare?
Check out the 1969 Stingray ZL1

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When it comes to automotive one-upmanship, rarer rides give you more bragging rights. Do the math: the dude driving 'round town in a DeLorian is going to turn more heads than the dude in a Dodge Neon. And, whether it's a custom body, high-performance engine, unique paint/interior combination or just a model that appeared in a movie, collectors are always on the prowl for a deal on those hard-to-find gems. One make that consistently appears on the top of many wish-lists is the Corvette. And, while they've produced a number of sought-after models, like the Corvette ZR1 or the '63 Grand Sport, few beat out the 1969 Stingray ZL1.

The ZL1 featured an engine with an all-aluminum block and cylinder heads. Cast-iron sleeves were included to ensure the reliability of the aluminum block. It also received bigger exhaust ports than those found on previous racing models. This beefed-up Corvette exhaust system promoted a more efficient removal of exhaust gases and streamlined performance by increasing horsepower, gas mileage and overall efficiency. Used in conjunction with a Corvette intake and Corvette air filters, the ZL1 was a force to be reckoned with. Most stock intakes are constructed with numerous twists, turns and chambers in an effort to muffle sound. But, in doing so, they greatly restrict airflow. High performance components, now readily available in aftermarket exhaust systems, completely replace the stock parts and provide a smoother pathway for air to enter the engine, allowing for the greatest improvement to overall horsepower and torque of any performance upgrade. On average, an increase of 5hp - 11hp is standard, along with increased torque, increased fuel economy (adding between 1 - 2 miles per gallon) and a throatier, racecar rumble.

This nearly mythic engine was incorporated into about three dozen '69 Camaros and used primarily for NHRA drag racing. In addition, a few hundred ZL1 engines were sold to racing teams around the country and appeared on the finish lines of the Canadian American Challenge Cup series back in the late '60s and early 70s. But, unlike other specialized Corvettes, where hundreds were produced, only 2 – that's right, 2 – Corvette ZL1s were ordered, built and sold through Chevrolet!

So, if you're reading this, odds are you don't own one and never will. But, if you're looking to upgrade the components of your existing model or just add a few appearance-enhancing upgrades like Corvette body kits, Corvette seat covers, Corvette floor mats or a Corvette car cover, aftermarket parts can provide an easy and affordable way to work yourself up to racing performance one step at a time.

One of the smartest upgrades that will instantly increase the value of your 'Vette is a solid set of Corvette brakes. Unlike stock brakes, these are designed to withstand the rigors of high-output racing and cover everything from performance brake pads to rotors. Corvette brake pads provide a direct replacement for stock pads and surpass their lesser counterparts in durability by 20 - 40 percent. They're actually proven to last longer, stop faster and are virtually noise-free. In addition, Corvette rotors feature larger, slotted rotors that fill more of the space behind the wheel to provide a tougher look. They channel water away from the braking surface while keeping the brakes cool under high-performance conditions.

A Corvette exhaust system, Corvette brakes and a heavy-duty set of Corvette floor mats add the finishing touch to your 'Vette, whether you're rolling in a classic or something fresh off the line.