First Corvette L88 Produced Heads To Auction12
There are few Corvettes as rare or as historically significant as the 1967 Corvette L88. The L88 option was only available on Corvettes for three years that saw only 216 cars made. 1967 alone saw total production land at 20 copies. The C2 featured here today is the very first regular production L88 to leave the factory, and the only 1967 Corvette L88 to be painted in Tuxedo Black, and it will hit the auction block at the upcoming Mecum Kissimmee Auction this coming January.
This Corvette L88 was ordered by Tony DeLorenzo, son of GM Public Relations Executive Anthony G. DeLorenzo. Tony and Jerry Thompson campaigned the car in 1967 SCCA competition.
The L88 was an engine option that had some very specific parameters intended for maximum performance. First off, it had a reinforced cast-iron block, with 4-bolt mains, forged steel crank, forged rods, 12.5:1 compression, a radical solid lifter cam, Holley 850-cfm carb, transistorized ignition, and aluminum intake.
The L88 package also offered a choice of the manual Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” or the M20 Hydramatic transmission, power assisted heavy duty disc brakes, the F41 heavy duty suspension with new coils and dampers, the G81 Positraction differential, and a cowl induction hood unique to the L88 package. The package was not, however, available with a radio, heater, A/C, power steering, or electric windows.
On the parking brake cover, there was a sticker to remind the operator just what variety of beast he or she was dealing with. It read: WARNING: VEHICLE MUST OPERATE ON A FUEL HAVING A MINIMUM 103 RESEARCH OCTANE AND 95 MOTOR OCTANE OR ENGINE DAMAGE MAY RESULT.
That engine, a 427 (7-liter) Big Block, was rated at 430 horsepower, but that was at 4,600 rpm, far below the engine’s 6,400 rpm peak. True power output was somewhere between 500 and 600 horsepower after a bit of tuning.
After the car left DeLorenzo’s ownership, this Corvette L88 was raced by a number of subsequent owners. Eventually it landed in the hands of Zip Products owner Wayne Walker. Mr. Walker had the Corvette restored by renowned Corvette specialists Naber Brothers of Houston, TX. The restoration was of such a quality that the car earned a Bloomington Gold certificate and multiple National Corvette Restorers Society Top Flight awards, including a National NCRS Top Flight award and NCRS Performance Verification.
The car then traded hands to Steve Hendrickson of Minnesota in 1986. The Franklin Mint used the car as the basis for a die-cast model.
In 1985, 1988, and again in 1992, the Corvette L88 was invited to be part of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection. In 2003, under the ownership of Larry Bowman, the car was invited to appear at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, reuniting it with its original owner. Tony DeLorenzo drove the car in one final race.
In 2010, the Corvette L88 earned a Triple Diamond award at the Corvette and Muscle Car Nationals. In 2013, it was awarded the NCRS American Heritage award.
The car has been the subject of a concours-quality, rotisserie restoration. It has extensive documentation including the Protect-O-Plate, NCRS judge Al Grenning affirmation, original title, letter from the original owner Tony DeLorenzo, and more.
It will be on offer as part of the Mecum Gallery Exposition at the Mecum Kissimmee Auction in Florida, January 7th-16th, 2021. The Mecum listing can be found here.
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This is one awesome 1967 “Vette. Saw this sel,l a couple times over the years. It will be interesting to see how much it goes for this time. Being the only triple black version, should bring pretty big bucks. We’ll see.
It is a very nice car… was a no sale at Mecum last year. Not sure what the reserve is but it was well into 7 figures last year.
That car is the top of the mountain among all Corvettes. It will no doubt bring $5 million or more at auction.
To be clear, ’67 L88’s were available only with the M22. In ’68 and ’69 the M40 Turbo 400 was available. Although street legal, this motor wasn’t street friendly by any means and was really only designed for track use. Yet, oddly enough this car has the N89 Bolt-On Wheel option and the A31 Power Window option.
M20 was not a Hydromatic.
I believe this car has been “re-bodied” at least once or twice during it’s various restorations.
Great car; great history. The first factory assembled L-88 to leave St. Louis was probably sold to Roger Penske Chevrolet and subsequently raced at Daytona and Sebring in 1966, driven by Dick (Goldie) Guldstrand and George Wintersteen. Their Corvette won the GT class at both races. Dick actually picked the car up in St. Louis and drove it to Penske’s dealership in Pennsylvania with no heater or defroster. Dick had told me in 2003, that they wrapped him in a blanket before he drove away from the plant so he didn’t completely freeze his tail off.
An absolutely exquisite example of an absolutely genius design.
1967 is the pinnacle of Corvette design – C7s and C8s are the only ones that can compare IMHO.
The L88 represents the beginning of the many great things to come from Chevrolet, while being (what should have been) a race-only engine, it led to many great advances in engine development and design (DZ 302, LT1 350 small blocks and LS6/LS7 454 big blocks) that continue today (LS3/LS7 and LT4/LT5)
Of course, I have to mention the ZL1 427, which is basically an all aluminum version of the L88.
I’ll take mine with the same paint scheme, but with a hard top and some wider tires…
HOW DID THEY GET THOSE SKINNY THINGS TO HOOK UP ?!?!?
P.S. – I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one to notice the error when describing the transmission – M20 being a manual (wide ratio 4-speed) – M40 being the TH-400 (that wasn’t available with the L88)
The TH400 was available with the L88 in 1968. There was a married couple from Indiana that attended the NCCC national conventions in the early and mid-seventies that raced (and drove on the street) a yellow convertible with a black vinyl top with the L88/TH400 combination. I remember that the wife (Janet) was the current NCCC record holder in the 1/4 mile drags, but I
cannot remember where Nick was in the record books. I remember Nick telling me when Janet was driven to the hospital for the birth of their first child, he was a little over exuberant with the gas pedal meeting her there, and ended up spending the night in jail. The only thing sweeter than that flared fendered, drag slicked car, was the couple themselves.
I have a brand new L88 open chamber engine sitting in my shop, paid $1800.00 for it in 1973 from Chevrolet performance catalogue, the very first performance catalogue printed.
I am a white headed Virtnam vet that wishes he could buy your L88 and visit It during my days!
any interest in selling?