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.