The team at Mecum Auctions recently announced that the “Black Corvette L88 once owned by Tony DeLorenzo will cross the block at Mecum!”
If you closely follow the blue chip Corvette market you probably think they were talking about the black 1967 L88 Corvette raced by Tony DeLorenzo and sold by Mecum in 2011. That car was the first documented Corvette L88 ever produced and it sold for $1.25M to Terry Michaelis whose intent was to return the car to its race delivery.
But Mecum’s recent announcement is not about that car, it is announcing the sale of another important L88, DeLorenzo’s triple black 1969 personal driver which will be offered in Mecum’s Dallas auction September 3rd through 6th.
The Mecum Dallas auction has become one of the premier auctions in the world for offering important and historic Chevrolet Corvettes. This year’s event is no exception and in addition to DeLorenzo’s L88 has several other excellent Corvettes crossing the block from blue chip collectibles to restomods.
The L88 owned by the son of GM’s vice president of public relations, in addition to a documented detailed provenance including letters attesting to its history from former owners, has lengthy storied history both in the United States and Europe. Tony DeLorenzo, a well known Corvette race car driver, was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall of Fame in 2011 and along with his driving partner Jerry Thompson is also in the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame.
Photo Credit: Mecum/D.Duckworth
The DeLorenzo/Thompson team was the most successful FIA and SCCA A-Production racing team, winning 22 straight races from 1969 to 1971 as drivers of the Owens-Corning Corvette. The historic account of the legendary car and its drivers is thoroughly detailed in Peter Gimenez’s Corvette Racing Legends: The Story of the L-88 Option Package. In addition there are several photos detailing the complete history of the car at this cars individual website, www.1969L88.com.
Though this L88 was not a part of his racing stable, DeLorenzo used the L88 convertible as his personal driver. Like all L88’s it was delivered with the legendary 550HP engine, officially rated by GM as only 430HP, transistorized ignition, heavy duty front and rear suspension, heavy duty brakes and DeLorenzo chose the Muncie “rock crusher” four speed transmission instead of the optional automatic. He only owned his triple black 1969 L88 for a short while but before he sold it in December of 1969 he modified it with fender flares, custom chrome headers and FIA approved plexiglas covered headlight assemblies similar to the Owens Corning race car.
Photo Credit: 1969L88.com
In December of 1969 DeLorenzo sold his personal driver to a German Pan American Airlines pilot, Curt Wetzel, who took the car to Europe and successfully campaigned the L88 on German tracks. The powerful L88 was so dominant that the Porsche factory, so tired of losing to the Corvette, bought the L88 to get it out of competition and off the track. The L88 fell into the hands of a Swiss enthusiast, Hans Hirt, who returned the car to the race track and owned it for twelve more years.
Photo Credit: 1969L88.com
A Dallas enthusiast and collector, Joe DeMesy learned of the now painted yellow car and bought it from Hirt, which by then was in need of a total restoration. DeMesy brought the L88 back to the United States and commissioned Ken and Gary Naber to do a complete frame off restoration in 2003.
The car was returned to the way DeLorenzo would have taken delivery of the L88 at Hanley Dawson Chevrolet, completely unmodified and in its original triple black colors. It is one of only two triple black 1969 L88’s and today is the most rare and perhaps the most desired of all color combinations. Since restoration the car has won several awards including NCRS Top Flight, Vettefest Gold Spinner and Triple Crown, and a two places in Bloomington Gold’s Special Collection.
As all Corvette enthusiasts know, the mention of an L88 coming to auction gets most collectors mouth’s watering, but a triple black L88 with complete documentation, a successful racing background, a Naber brothers restoration, once owned by legendary Corvette racer Tony DeLorenzo creates almost a feeding frenzy in anticipation of adding it to their collection. This car, Lot S108.1, along with several other outstanding Corvettes will cross the block on Saturday, September 6 in Dallas.
Check out the photos of Tony DeLorenzo’s personal triple-black 1969 L88 Corvette:
Racing Legend Tony DeLorenzo to be Reunited with His 1967 L88 Corvette
Corvette Auction Results: 1969 L88 Corvette Sells for $562,500 at Mecum Dallas
Former Barn Find 1968 L88 Corvette Known as ‘Bounty Hunter’ Headed to Mecum Monterey