1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Sells For $2.69 Million At Mecum Glendale10
The Glendale, Arizona Mecum Collector Car auction posted record sales this year, with $42.3 million in sales over the three-day event March 18th to the 20th. There were rare Ferraris, Porsches, American muscle, and plenty of classics among the 1,200-plus lots on offer, but nothing brought attention quite like lot S122.1, a 1967 Corvette L88 coupe that sold for an eye-watering $2,695,000.
First, a bit of history. The Corvette L88 was intended to be a competition car, built for maximum performance. The L88 option consisted of a 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 an aluminum intake. The L88 was rated at a laughable 430 horsepower, when with a set of headers and a bit of tuning, the Big Block would easily make 550-600 horsepower. They were not available with a heater, air conditioning, radio, power steering, or electric windows. The Corvette L88 was only built for three years, with only twenty built in 1967. This makes it one of the rarest of all Corvettes.
The Corvette L88 coupe that sold at the Mecum Glendale auction has been the subject of a thorough, nut-and-bolt restoration that took ten years to complete. It has been certified by Al Grenning of Classic Car Affirmation Service as an original L88 block with original trim tag. It is the only known Sunfire Yellow Corvette L88. It is optioned with a Muncie M-22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual transmission, K66 Transistorized Ignition, J56 Heavy Duty brakes with J50 vacuum assist, G81 Positraction rear axle, and F41 Special Front and Rear Suspension.
This Corvette L88 has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Bloomington Gold certification, NCRS (National Corvette Restorers Society) Top Flight, NCRS Performance Verification, the Duntov Mark of Excellence, Triple Diamond Certification (the only matching numbers Corvette L88 to receive both the Duntov and Triple Diamond award). It was part of the 2018 Bloomington Gold L88 Explosion display.
This Corvette L88 is accompanied by meticulous documentation including inspection and confirmed authenticity by Master Judge Mark Donnally, an NCRS-validated tank sticker, the original sales contract and title. Finally, I saw the car up close. I was covering the auction, and I found the car stunning. For a Corvette and NCRS guy, this was a special treat. The odometer showed just 354 miles since its magnificent restoration. The only downside is, if the new owner wants to drive it on the street, they will have to surrender the original title to tag it.
Here’s the kicker: even at a sale price of $2.695 million (this includes the ten percent buyer’s premium), this may have been a bit of a bargain. Hagerty Price Guide rates a #1 condition 1967 Corvette L88 coupe (this was definitely a #1 car) at $3.45 million, and a #2 condition car at $2.75 million.
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RPO L88 was an engine option, nothing more. It was not a package or trim level. When you selected that engine, several options were mandatory and others were not available. Because it was a race engine and not intended for street use, it was purposely underrated @ 430hp, below the RPO L71 427/435 engine. These engines do not like to sit/ idle or be in heavy traffic, they will overheat.
Even though they are extremely rare, the ’67 L88 is not the rarest of all Corvettes. The 1969 Corvette with RPO ZL1, is the rarest, with only 2 production units thought to have that engine rolling off the line in St. Louis. Only 1 car is documented and known to exist today, if it were to come to auction (and it won’t anytime soon, if ever) it would likely go well beyond the price paid for this car.
There were two documented 1969 Corvette ZL1s, both coupes. One was a white coupe that was in the Kevin Suydam collection, located in Washington. It was equipped with J50 power brakes, J56 heavy Duty Brakes, F41 suspension, K66 Transistor Ignition, G81 Posi Rear Axle, M22 Muncie four-speed, F70x15 Red Stripe tires, and A01 Tinted Glass and Front Louver Trim. The other is a yellow coupe that was owned by a Corvette collector named of Roger Judski in Orlando, Florida. There is a legend of a third ZL1, a red convertible that had been used for drag racing, but there is no documentation for this car. The L88 was ONE of the rarest Corvettes.
Being in the drag racing business in 1964 and until about 1986 and working for the largest Chev dealer in Canada at that time, i know for a fact that there were more ZL1 Vettes made. Our dearlership in Toronto, used to service one and many profession drag racers and even street racers had them. Some guys just used a big block car and removed the cast iron engine and put in the aluminum ZL1 engine. Obviously GM was selling the blocks and engines to the racers at a huge discount, so those cars with those engines would never show up as ZL1 on the paperwork.
Brett, The white Kevin Suydam car in Washington state does not have definitive, ironclad documentation. It has a number of “interesting” documents? But none that absolutely prove it was born with a ZL1. The Roger Judski car is the only one with PROOF, but even it has a replacement /warranty block. There are several others that come close, including the blue one recently sold @ Muscle Car city by Rick Treworgy, but again not a proven with documents factory production line ZL1 car.
The aluminum big block ZL1 was cast in the Tonawanda NY, GM foundry near Buffalo. In 1968, GM listed the bare aluminum block for $3,000 in the parts book. Our drag racing buddies worked in the GM foundry and offered us a bare 427 aluminum block for just $200. We would have bought it but GM had notified Canada customs to have a lookout for any aluminum blocks and heads being smuggled across the border. We lived in Toronto then so every race day at the NASCAR drag strip ( the very last Nascar drag strip in the USA ) beside the Niagara Falls NY, military airport, we drove from southern Ontario to cross over to race, usually starting the last weekend of March. We didn’t want to get busted by Canada Customs agents going back home with an aluminum 427 bare block sitting in out trunk, so we passed on the $200 block deal. Hold, on, i’m starting to cry now…bye ya’all
I’d say the buyer got a bargain at that price. IMO, not only was the ’67 L88 the top of the mountain for mid-year Corvettes, it was the Top Of The Mountain for Corvette—period.
Yeah, the mid-engine C8 is cool and all—if you can find one for sale without having to wait a year for it—but I doubt it will ever have the soul that those few L88s have. When I think of those cars, I immediately think of Zora Arkus Duntov, and all he did for Corvette and performance development for Chevrolet.
i understand from people in the know this car was rebodied so it is not all original
It was originally used as a drag car so the quarters were cut out for slicks. I saw the car at Mecum and it’s put together correctly and is stunning.
The car has a ‘Top Flight’ rating from NCRS, meaning whatever has been done to the car to restore it was done correctly, using either NOS parts or approved replica components. If it were otherwise, it would rate lower, if at all.