Barrett-Jackson’s fourth and final collector car auction in 2015 will be held next week in Las Vegas, Sept. 24-26th. For a town that was built on gambling and is known for inducing visitors to make risky decisions with their cash, there is a sure-bet coming to town and it carries the legendary performance moniker known as the L88 Corvette.
While 1968 was the first year of a new “shark’ body style, the engines were all carry-overs from 1967. Those that followed sports car racing at the time had learned that if you wanted to go racing in a Corvette, the L88 was just about as turn-key of a race car as you could get from a manufacturer.
Chevrolet tried its best to discourage sales of the L88 to all but the most ardent racers by deceptively listing the L71’s 427 cubic inch V8 as having 435 horsepower as compared with the L88’s 430 hp. In reality, the L88 engines produced more like 550 horsepower vs the L71s 500 horsepower. Chevy also said no radios or heaters in L88s to further discourage non-racing sales (the heater returned in 1968).
Only 80 examples of the fire-breathing, racetrack eating L88 Corvettes were produced in 1968, yet somehow this red 1968 L88 Corvette that is featured as lot #738 at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction escaped the hard life of racing down a track. The Corvette has just 24,760 miles on the odometer and its been a two-owner car with the second owner enjoying the car over the last 38 years.
Here is what Barrett-Jackson’s resident Corvette expert Ray Sinor said about the car:
The tank sheet that defines how this car was originally built is present and is very legible, showing all the options,” says Roy Sinor, a renowned independent Corvette expert who is also on staff at Barrett-Jackson. “Many times the external location of the paper tank sheet leads to deterioration from moisture, but not in this case.” This car was originally painted Polo White with a red leather interior and is now presented in red over red. According to Sinor, “The leather seats cost an extra $79. While 2,429 1968 Corvettes were built with them – which amount to about nine in 100 – seeing them in this otherwise bare-bones L88 is a real surprise.”
Like so many L88s, this car crossing the Barrett-Jackson block in Las Vegas is offered with a period-correct drivetrain. “It is an exception to the rule to find an L88 with its original engine block,” says Sinor. “These cars were built for racing, and overstressed parts were a fact of life. When an engine broke, it was replaced.” When and how the original L88 engine went missing is unknown, but the replacement items bear the proper casting dates and assembly stampings to help return the car to its full glory.
We do find the terminology interesting in that Barrett-Jackson’s catalog describes the car as having a “period-correct” drive train and are unsure if the motor is original to the car or if that’s how BJ avoids any liability issues by claiming “matching numbers”. Regardless, the original build sheet confirms this 1968 as a real-deal L88 which also features the Muncie M22 rock crusher 4-speed and 4.11 rear end.
Barrett-Jackson doesn’t publish pre-auction estimates, but a little research shows recent 1968 L88s selling between $500,000 up to nearly $800,000. A very similar 1968 Corvette L88 sold at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction in 2014 for $530,000 while a documented 1968 L88 Racer sold at Mecum’s 2014 Monterey auction for $785,000.
But one of the major differences between this L88 Corvette and the two mentioned above is that Barrett-Jackson will be offering this Corvette at no-reserve. The price for Lot #738 will be settled by the last two bidders standing.
For more on this two-owner 1968 L88 Corvette, head over to Barrett-Jackson as automotive expert Steve Magnante does a great job breaking down the nuts and bolts on everything there is to love about this authentic high performance Corvette.
Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction runs three days over September 24-26th at Mandalay Bay. You can catch all the action live each day from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm PDT on the Velocity Channel. For more auction info, check out www.barrett-jackson.com.
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