Most of the major automotive auction houses will be decending on Monterey, California in mid-August for a weekend full of classic and collector car sales. We’re reviewing the dockets and selecting the best of the best to present to you here on CorvetteBlogger.com.
First up in our Countdown to Monterey series is Lot #S125 from the Mecum at Monterey auction. This 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible features the 427/430 hp tri-power L88 engine and is documented to be the very first RPO L88 built. In 1965, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Engineering group began developing the new 427 Mark IV engine for use in the Corvette as a full-bore endurance racing engine, and in 1967 their work came to fruition in the form of the RPO L88 option package.
Incorporating a forged and Tuftrided steel crank, forged rods, 12.5:1 pistons, aluminum heads, a radical solid lifter cam and a single Holley 850 atop an aluminum intake manifold, the L88 was a formidable powerplant. Rated at a paltry 430 horsepower, it could be tuned to approach 600 at its redline; packaged with the requisite M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed, special heavy duty power brakes, F41 suspension and bullet-proof Positraction rear end, it gave the Corvette almost boundless potential in competition.
The L88 instantly established its racing dominance with the Tuxedo Black 1967 convertible offered here, the very first regular production L88 Corvette built. Ordered by Tony DeLorenzo Jr., son of GM Public relations executive Anthony G. DeLorenzo, it was delivered to Hanley Dawson Chevrolet in Detroit, who also supplied the young DeLorenzo with all the equipment and financial backing necessary to mount a full campaign in SCCA A Production racing. Delivered into the Hanley shops directly from the transporter, the car was immediately prepped to A Production specs and then entered into its first event at Wilmot Hills, Wisconsin, which it won going away. At the next event at Elkhart Lake, the car’s 155 mph top speed was such a shock to DeLorenzo Sr., who was watching from the pit straight, that it was two years before he would attend another of his son’s races.
That successful first season qualified the car for the SCCA Runoffs at Daytona Beach, where some of DeLorenzo’s strongest competitors were eliminated in an early multi-car wreck, which he avoided in driving to a second place finish behind the 427 Cobra of Dick Smith.
DeLorenzo raced the car successfully through the 1968 season, after which it was sold and subsequently campaigned throughout the years with a winning record that culminated in the 1982 Canadian Road Race Championship. It was then retired from the track and expertly restored to its original configuration, the quality of the work earning a Bloomington Gold certification, multiple Top Flight NCRS, Duntov awards and a coveted spot in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection. In 2003, the car was returned to its 1967 SCCA runoffs configuration for the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, where it was reunited with its first owner for one last race, an event that delighted DeLorenzo and an appreciative audience.
Of the 20 L88s sold in 1967, there are only 14 examples believed to still exist today, the one offered here being the earliest surviving factory car ordered, and with a very impressive racing career that has made it one of the most historically significant L88s in existence. Freshly restored to concours quality standards, this L88 Roadster certainly qualifies as the centerpiece of any collection, a premiere example of the most powerful and dominant production racer of its era.
Highlights of this 1967 L88 Corvette Convertible:
- First RPO L88 built
- 427/430 HP
- Heavy-duty M22 Rock Crusher 4-speed
- F41 heavy-duty suspension
- G81 Positraction differential
- J56 4 wheel Heavy-duty disc brakes
- 1967 certificate of title
- Delorenzo letter of authenticity
- Bloomington Gold certification
- Bloomington Special Collection award
- Top Flight award
- NCRS Performance Award 1
Auction description courtesy of Mecum
Mecum Collector Car Auction