Thought last week's 1968 L88 was valuable? Just wait.
The Corvette L88 was the brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the famed godfather of the Corvette program. Because there was a ban on Chevrolet taking part in motorsport, an all-powerful Corvette was not in the cards. But Arkus-Duntov knew the sports car's capabilities, especially when equipped with the right engine. The 427 cubic-inch V8 with upwards of 560 horsepower was the answer (Chevy officially rated it at 430 hp knowing full well its true output). But Arkus-Duntov, who developed the engine with Roger Penske, still had to get the project approved by top brass, so he found a loophole: classify the engine for off-road use only.
In this case, he was referring to a racetrack. The Corvette L88, a spiritual ancestor of sorts to the C7 Corvette ZR-1, was built in very limited numbers in 1967 and lasted until 1969.
Last week, we discovered a 1968 C3 L88, one of just 80, up for auction that failed to meet the reserve despite a top bid of $400,000. If we had to guess, the reserve was, at the very least, $500k. It didn't sell likely because there's a big difference between the '67 and '68 models (C2 vs. C3). The former is clearly far more valuable.
This 1967 C2 crossed the stage at Mecum Auction's Glendale event a few days ago, proving just how much more desirable the C2 L88 truly is. Just one of 20 made that year, this example has just 348 miles and is the only one painted in Sunfire Yellow. It's still equipped with its original numbers-matching engine and is considered one of the most valuable Corvettes ever made.
Someone just shelled out $2,695,000 to own it. Amazingly, this figure is still two percent below its expected value and falls short of the $3.85 million someone else paid in 2014 for a red 1967 L88.
Other notable things included in last week's auction were the original sales contract, title, and plenty of documentation that authenticated its history and restoration. Aside from the 103-octane-only engine, Arkus-Duntov and his team upgraded the suspension, brakes, and four-speed manual transmission. They also added a heavy-duty aluminum radiator in place of the original and ditched the radiator shroud to maximize high-speed cooling.
Corvettes like this should be driven but we doubt this one ever will be, aside from the occasional driveway cruise. A portion of its value is tied in with its low mileage and chances are its new owner purchased it as an investment. It'll certainly cross the auction block again one day.