Friday, November 8, 2013

The Crown Jewel of 1967 L88s

1967 Crown Jewel Corvette L88 to be Offered by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale
By Rick Tavel© November 7, 2013 All rights reserved. Photos Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

1967 L88 - Only 67 L88 to win the NCRS  Duntov Mark of Excellence  Photo Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
The high performance Corvette market is red hot.  One of several recent examples was the worlds record price set this past September for a Corvette at auction, a 1967 Corvette L88 sold for $3.2M.  You can bet that owners of high performance Corvettes who want to sell will be jumping on the bandwagon to take advantage of the sizzling Corvette market and the huge audience the Scottsdale auctions provide.  Obviously one of the rarest and most sought after of all Corvettes is a 1967 L88 coupe with a competition heritage and Barrett-Jackson will have one at their Scottsdale auction.   But this is not a Corvette that recently “jumped on the bandwagon” to take advantage of the hot market, consignment of this rare L88 began almost a year ago, long before the record setting September sale. Nor is it just any  1967 L88 coupe, this is the crown jewel of 1967 L88 Corvettes, the only L88 coupe of record to receive the highly coveted Duntov Mark of Excellence Award.  The Corvette will be auctioned as a part of Barrett-Jacksons Salon Collection and scheduled to cross the block on Saturday afternoon, January 18, 2014.  This red 1967 L88 Corvette is fully documented and is being represented at the request of the owner by Roy Sinor, well-known, recently-retired National Corvette Restorers Society national judging chairman and one of the experts Barrett-Jackson uses for Corvette consultations.  Sinor spent over seventeen years at the NCRS and is one of the foremost experts on Corvettes.  This outstanding example is the only Red on Red example of the only twenty L88 Corvettes produced in 1967 and has been validated by both GM and the NCRS.  It is the recipient of an NCRS Top Flight Award, Performance Verification, and the only L88 on record to have achieved the coveted Duntov Mark of Excellence. The car has also been inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame and appeared in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection.

The L88 was raced at Motor city drag strips in the late 1960's 
Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
Like all twenty Corvette L88s produced in 1967, this one comes with the C48 Heater Defrost Delete, F41 Special Front and Rear Suspension, G81 Positraction Rear Axle, J50 Vacuum Power Brakes, J56 Special Heavy Duty Brakes, K66 Transistor Ignition, L88 427 ci, 430 hp (factory rating) Engine, and the M22 Heavy Duty, Close Ratio, 4 Speed Transmission.  In addition it also has the RPO A85, shoulder belts.  Another feature which sets this L88 apart is the special order rear end ratio of 4.56:1, the drag racing rear end of choice.  Most 1967 L88s were ordered with rear end ratios more suitable to road racing.  This car was originally ordered by a General Motors executive for a friend of his sons and was delivered through Mike Savoie Chevrolet, then located on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, Michigan.  Savoie is well known for servicing and delivering GM employee cars and his dealership was only a year old when he delivered this L88. 

The Corvette has an extensive competition background;  the first owner raced the Corvette most weekends at drag strips around the Motor City.  It made several appearances at Motor City Dragway, Lapeer Dragway and Detroit Dragway in the late 1960s.  The Corvette was also used to test competition camshafts for the General Kinetic Camshaft Company.   Local legend is this car never lost a race at the local drag strips.

The highly sought 560HP L88 engine  Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

Following the first few years spent racing, the car was eventually sold in the early 1970s to a high school auto shop teacher, Fred Reamer.  While doing some brake work on his car Reamer, not a racer,  was intrigued when he unexpectedly found the dual pin calipers which only came with the J56 RPO.  This discovery prompted him to investigate his car further.  He contacted Werner Meier, then a General Motors engineering group manager.  Today Meier owns Masterworks Automotive Services specializing in Corvette restoration and was inducted into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame in 2013.  Meier encouraged Reamer check drop the gas tank and check the tank sticker.  When he found the original sticker it indicated that his car was one of the rare, original production L88s.  Word quickly spread among Corvette enthusiasts and collectors that Reamer was in possession of one of the rarest of all production Corvettes.  Several collectors tried to acquire the car but it was J.D.Pervis, well-known collector, that literally made the auto shop teacher an offer he could not refuse.

The Nabers Brothers did a full restoration in the late 1990's
Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
When Pervis acquired the car the original engine, like most all L88s that were raced, had been replaced and he managed to get an actual GM over-the-counter, date correct L88 IT motor that never had the VIN stamped on it. Most factory L88s have “restoration” blocks but it is rare to find an L88 with a date correct IT block.   Pervis also did some other restoration work on his car but a full restoration was not completed until the car was sold to Ray Norvelle.  Norvelle commissioned renowned Nabers Brothers from Houston to do a full restoration on the important Corvette in the late 1990’s.  Shortly after Nabers Brothers completed the restoration Norvelle sold the car to the current owner in 2000.  Since then the car has been professionally maintained by a GM mechanic and kept in a climate controlled garage.

This L88 was ordered with the rare 4.56:1 rear for drag racing
Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
Legendary stories of General Motors vaunted L88 Corvettes are epic among enthusiasts.  In order to meet certain government regulations, insurance guidelines and even GM company policies, L88’s published HP was under-rated by the factory at only 430.   Dyno tests have shown the actual horsepower rating to be closer to 560 HP.   The L88 427 cubic inch engines were significantly different from other 427 GM engines.  They had a forged and Tuftrided crankshaft, 12.5 : 1 pistons,  a 850 CFM 4 barrel carburetor, aluminum heads and a cold air induction.  The published horsepower for the L88 engine, unlike horsepower ratings for other engines, was not the “peak performance” horsepower, so technically the publicized numbers were not fabricated, just not the numbers for peak HP.   
GM published horsepower @ 430 but it actually produced @ 560
Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

Corvettes with the L88 package were clearly designed for use on the track and GM discouraged street use. In addition to the brute engine the legendary M22 4 speed “rock-crusher” transmission was required as well as a performance suspension and brakes.   Using these cars as daily drivers was not only discouraged but challenging since they would overheat in stop and go traffic since they were delivered with no fan shrouds.  In addition, choosing the L88 RPO also required deleting the radio and heater.   So an L88 Corvette wasn’t the most comfortable Woodward Avenue cruiser. 

Zora Arkus-Duntov, the vaunted Corvette Chief Engineer, personally oversaw the building of a prototype version of the C2 L88 in 1966 to insure it performed as anticipated.  Satisfied, he released it for production in 1967 and the prototype test car was destroyed according to GM policy.

This impeccable L88 example will cross the block in Barrett-Jacksons totally new auction facility at West World in Scottsdale.  Pundits could go on and on comparing this car to the worlds record L88, but the knowledgeable collector who seriously considers investing the money it will take to own this car will understand why  it is incomparable and truly belongs in a class of its own.  It is the crown jewel of all production 1967 Corvettes and will certainly be the main attraction for Corvette enthusiasts at the Barrett-Jackson extravaganza in Scottsdale.  Keep in mind that this car is being offered in Scottsdale at Barrett-Jacksons most famous, most elaborate and largest auction event.  If things go as they have in past years the event will be overflowing with not only spectators but with well-healed, qualified bidders and collectors.  And when international champion and Hall of Fame auctioneer “Spanky” Assiter begins his chant on this unique Corvette there is no telling where the bidding will end when his hammer falls.  It should make for an exciting afternoon for enthusiasts, especially if for Corvette enthusiasts.
Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

The author wants to thank Gary Bennett, vp of consignment for Barrett-Jackson, Tim Heit, digital content manager for Barrett-Jackson, and Roy Sinor, retired NCRS National judging Chairman, for graciously taking the time from their busy schedules to assist in the production of this article. 
Link to Barrett-Jackson HomePage where you can view featured cars in their upcoming January 2014 auction:



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