Now that Mecum has wrapped up their 27th Annual Spring Classic in Indianapolis, Corvette enthusiasts are looking forward to the latest addition to Mecum’s already extensive schedule of collector car auctions, this one in Seattle. And the reason for the anticipation is that one of the “bluest” of blue chip Corvettes will cross the block on Saturday June 14th, one of only twenty 1967 L88’s ever produced. Rarely do these special Corvettes ever change hands and when they do a world’s record price is usually at risk of being broken.
The ultra-rare Marina blue coupe is scheduled to cross the block during Mecum’s inaugural Seattle event taking place Friday, June 13th and Saturday, June 14. For most Corvette enthusiasts just being able to inspect one of these special cars is a rare treat. Second generation L88’s, only produced in 1967, are considered to be a true “crown jewel” for Corvette collectors, unobtainable for most since for the last several years they consistently bring seven figures and usually set a new record price for a Corvette in the process.
This highly awarded example, Lot S113, and will be the third 1967 L88 to be auctioned in less than a year, the two prior both set new world’s records when they were hammered sold. The first, a Marlboro Maroon convertible, was sold at Mecum’s Dallas auction in September, 2013, and was hammered for $3.2M ($3.456M including fees) and set a world’s record for a Corvette selling at auction. Just four months later a Red/Red 1967 L88 coupe shattered that record at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale when it was hammered at $3.5M ($3.85M with fees).
The legendary 1967 L88 is one of the rarest of all Corvettes and certainly the fastest of all production Corvettes for its time. Only twenty 1967 L88’s were produced and until recent times no other production Corvette could match its potency. Today these cars rarely publicly change hands so Corvette collectors from around the world will be watching, if not bidding on this well-documented, Nabers Brothers restoration which has been featured in several Bloomington Gold Special collections over the last thirty years.
The most potent of Corvette production engines in 1967, the L88 427 CI engine was intentionally underrated for horsepower at 430 when in actuality it produced in excess of 550. One of the reasons it was rated as the second most powerful engine option for 1967 was GM wanted to discourage street use and tried hard to get the L88 optioned cars in the hands of successful racers. To help accommodate that objective the engine was not promoted in much of Chevrolet’s sales literature. But that wasn’t the only deterrents to keeping the L88 off the street. In addition to requiring the cars ordered with the L88 to eliminate most comfort and convenience amenities Zora Arkus-Duntov had to personally approve the order. Duntov wanted to make sure that the buyer understood that the car was best suited for the race track and as such the owner needed to understand the car’s special requirements.
The L88 engine was not available as an individual, stand alone option. When the aluminum head and intake L88 was ordered it required the legendary M22 “rock crusher” four speed manual transmission, K66 transistorized ignition with no ignition shielding, J50 power boosted brakes, J56 dual pinned brake calipers with semi metallic brake pads with a front/rear proportioning valve, F41 special heavy duty suspension which consisted of heavy duty front and rear springs as well as larger shock absorbers and sway bars and G81 positraction. The standard gear ratio was 3.70:1 but other ratios were available from 3.08:1 to 4.56:1. In addition it required the selection of the C48 option which deleted the heater and defroster to not only reduce weight but to help discourage street use. Since the car was intended for high speed track use there was no radiator fan shroud which improved air flow through the radiator at high speed but frequently led to overheating if driven in traffic. In order to maximize “road feel” power steering was not available.
The 103 octane fuel required by the L88 was served up by a massive specially built 850 cfm Holley carburetor designed and calibrated for the low vacuum produced by the cam. The engine did not have a choke and as a result was difficult to keep the car running at idle until normal operating temperature was reached. As a reminder to the driver a sticker was affixed to the console warning that the engine required 103 research octane fuel of serious engine damage may result.
In addition to the required L88 options the Marina Blue with black interior L88 being offered in Seattle also has the N14 side exhausts, A01 tinted glass and the 4:11 to 1 gears. Delivered in April of 1967 to Bast Chevrolet in Seaford, New York, the original owner had a roll bar and harness installed since he raced the car for a time. In the early 1980’s the third owner did a cosmetic restoration on the car and was awarded Bloomington Gold certification in 1985 with a score of 95.9. It was a part of the Bloomington Gold special collection in 1988 and 1992. In 1998 the car was the recipient of a Nabers Brothers body off restoration. The car has the original tank sticker and complete documentation.
It will be exciting to watch what the latest 1967 L88 brings in the untested Seattle market as long as the consignor has not set an unrealistic reserve price on the car, which we have seen far too often recently. By all rights this car should bring over $2.8M but an unrealistically high reserve may very well inhibit bidding so it’s anyone’s guess on where this car ends up after the dust settles. I just wish I had an extra $3M lying around.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at Corvetted
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