C3 L-88 Corvettes Draw TOP DOLLAR at The Auctions!

Dateline: 2.1.12

The once obscure L88s are now highly valued Corvettes!

Lurking under the hood is the 427 L88 beast.

It’s always an exciting thing when the heavy guns from the Corvette’s past go on the auction block. Auctions can be a quirky thing, be it a local farm auction or a high-level exotic cars auction. On one hand, the final sale price is a direct reflection of what the market place is willingness to pay. On the other hand, two people can get caught up in the adrenaline of the auction experience and drive up a final sale price. Either way, they’re always fun to watch to get a sense of the market value of Corvettes.

Keith Cornett at www.CorvetteBlogger.com does an excellent job of covering Corvette auction action. Well, it seems that there’s an interesting trend developing in the Corvette world over L88 Corvettes. L88s with the appropriate petegree are getting just just north of $600,000! That’s VERY impressive, considering that new, the cars cost in the neighborhood of $6,500 back in the day.

The L88 option was Mr. Duntov’s gift to his beloved Corvette racers. Just because GM didn’t want to go racing didn’t mean that Duntov couldn’t design and develop parts for independent racers to use. The L88 package was the ultimate racer kit for its day. On paper and in person, the L88 didn’t look all that spectacular. The only visual clue as to what lurked under the car’s body was the special cold-air-induction hood that was essentially a dome on top of the big-block hood’s dome. That was the ONLY visual clue. On paper the L88 was grossly underrated at just 430-horsepower. The real power number was never “officially” published, but it was estimated to be in the high 500horsepower range.

The L88 Corvettes almost looked "Plain Jane."

The lack of special trim and soft numbers were deliberate. The complete package was just a few ticks away from a race car and in fact, not at all designed for street use. It wasn’t that you “couldn’t” drive the car on the street, it was more a matter of an unknowing customer getting a car that really wasn’t something you’d want to drive every day. The suspension was rock hard and provided a bone-jarring, molar rattling ride. The racing brakes didn’t work well until they were hot. The L88 engine has 12.5:1 compression so it was Sunoco 260 or nothing. And to top it off, Duntov made sure the car did not have a radiator shroud to help keep the beast stay relatively cool at low speed cruising.

L88 Corvettes were arguable the ultimate Corvette sleeper of their day.

The L88 427 engine delivered explosive horsepower and torque, nothing like the controlled power from a modern ZR1. The car was truly a beast, happiest on a race track. Despite Duntov’s best efforts to make the L88 a track-only car, not all L88s saw duty as a track warrior. The yellow ‘69 L88 Roadster had 20,000 miles on the odometer and sold for $610,000. This car was Bloomington Gold Certified in ‘05 and is a member of the Bloomington Gold’s Corvette Hall of Fame. And, if that’s not enough, in ‘09 the car was awarded the NCRS Top Flight Award.


The other L88 that went on Mecam’s block was a white ‘69 Roadster with 46,000 miles on the odometer. The bidding on this L88 stopped at $400,000, $100,000 short of the seller’s reserve, so it was a No Sale. But this car was no slouch in the awards department. The car has been Bloomington Gold Certified and received the Duntov Award. “Why” the bidding stopped at $400,000, I haven’t a clue. And while we’re on the topic of L88s on the block, on January 21, 2012 at the Russo Steel auction in Scottsdale, Arizona a Silverstone Silver ‘68 L88 Roadster sold for $625,000.

This is what a 215-MPH Corvette racer from the early '70s looked like.

And to add some perspective to the wild world of Corvettes on the block, in August 2011 at the RM Auctions Monterey Event, ProTeam Corvettes’ Terry Michaelis bought the stunningly restored John Greenwood BF Goodrich ZL-1 Corvette No. 49 for just $580,000! To think, Terry paid LESS for a fully-restored, all-out famous racing Corvette. Welcome to the unpredictable world of car auctions! – Scott


Spec Page – Lot F199 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible

Spec Page – Lot F199 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible

Russo & Steel Spec Page for 1968 L88 Corvette

CorvetteBlogger Russo Steel Auction post…

CorvetteBlogger Mecum’s 2012 Kissimmee Auction Post…

John Greenwood’s Stars & Stripes BF Goodrich ZL-1 Corvette Race Car Auction Results…

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The above 11×17 Parchment Paper Print is available for just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist. You can order your with the secure PayPal button below, of by calling 1-800-858-6670, Monday through Saturday 10AM to 9PM Eastern Standard Time.

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2 thoughts on “C3 L-88 Corvettes Draw TOP DOLLAR at The Auctions!

  1. Had a motor like that in my Vette on the Autobahn in Europe. I was having problems getting it to start once. Eventually found wires inside distributor were broken, but INSIDE the insulation so you could not see the copper broken. The car TRIED to start… would buck, snort, then die. Then it would “DIESEL”… attempting to run, cycle through about three iterations of the equivalent of a dying elephant…. then hiss, steam, and stop running… I worked on it for days. DAYS. And still could not get it to run. Then an old timer, Chief Warrant Officer who had been flying helicopters for years, took me to the side and said, “Ya know! I had a tractor that sounded just like that when I was a kid”. I thought he was busting my chops.. then he grinned and said, “427 with 12.5 to 1 pistons, sounds to me like you are firing on compression alone!” SO, I went and got some AVIATION fuel…and then it wouldn’t start at all. In reality, the octane increase simply ceased the pre=detonation that was occurring from compression alone. It truly WAS imitating a DIESEL…. on compression alone. The longer I worked on it, the hotter it got, the more it wanted to run. With the higher octane, it just plain would not try to start. Which made me look for the REAL PROBLEM…which I eventually found. Broken wires. No idea how that happened, but it taught me a MEMORABLE LESSON on what 12.5 to 1 really meant. Once I put new points in the distributor, and fixed the wires, it started up like a champ. Which immediately got a response from the local Germans who promptly called the Polizei (german Police) complaining that the ARMY had a new tank that was making their windows rattle. I eventually had to put mufflers on, in place of the side pipes until I shipped it back to the U.S. Really glad I did not snap a connecting rod, or damage the bearings or crankshaft while trying to make it run with broken wires. And my sincere thanks to this day, to the Chief Warrant Officer who inspired me to leave the ranks of Enlisted Soldiers and follow his foot steps. (Not Aviation though) Anyone with that much insight, knowledge and drive to be an absolute expert in his field, and was willing to let some of it rub off on me, couldn’t be all that bad. I did eventually get it on the Autobahn…..and learned the incredible feeling of that bumper sticker I always had on my bumper: “Life begins at 150mph!”… man.. I miss the Autobahn!

  2. Steve, I think we’ve all had a few of those kinds of experiences. Today we just say, “Well, DUGH!” Thanks for sharing. – Scott

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