ESTIMATE: $650,000 - $850,000
CHASSIS NO: 194379S714904 Houston Classic Auction, Houston, TX
May 3, 2014
An Unrestored Original Example with Only 2,574 Miles Since New, Optional L88 427/430 Horsepower Engine and M22 Four-Speed Transmission, Documentation Includes Factory Window Sticker, GM Protect-O-Plate, Tank Sticker and Warranty Booklet
427 cid V-8, 430 HP, M-22 close ratio four-speed transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and center mounted shock absorbers, full independent rear suspension with frame anchored differential unit, four- wheel hydraulic disc brakes; wheelbase: 98"
Nothing says American performance louder than the Corvette. What started as a somewhat mundane attempt at a world class sports car quickly evolved into one of the most iconic cars ever built. While other cars may be hard to tell apart, there's simply no mistaking a Corvette from any generation as they all have distinctive styling. Indeed, the identity of the Corvette has always had a singular purpose, as there was never a four-door sedan or station wagon version offered. Instead, all out speed, coupled with sleek and sexy styling made for a car that offered the very best in performance. Simply put, if you were looking to take the family on vacation or haul groceries home from the market, Chevrolet had a car for you, but it wasn't the Corvette. As a two-seater with great performance the Corvette was built for nothing more than pure fun. Through the years, the development of the Corvette has seen many milestones. Certainly the 1963 split-window is a rare and sought after example and even in the modern era 1990 ZR-1 was a fantastic performance car that could take on any Ferrari with no fear. Performance has always been on the front burner with regard to the Corvette image, and no other option displayed that better than the famous L88. By cramming a monster 430 horsepower V-8 engine into the Corvette, GM created a car that is still respected today as one of the most powerful production automobiles ever built. In the present day, any L88 equipped Corvette is a rare and sought after car, but to find a low mileage and pristine example is almost unheard of; and that's what makes this incredible car so important.
This L88 is a special car with a special story all its own. It is also perhaps the most correct, lowest mile example of its kind, a 1969 Corvette coupe with the real deal L88 engine option that generated a full 430 horsepower. Clearly, Chevrolet knew what they were doing when they fitted such an immense engine into a car weighing less than 3,500 pounds and this was not a car for the faint of heart. Make no mistake about it, the L88 option placed the Corvette in a league all its own and there was nothing else that could come close. This rare Corvette is finished in paint code number 980, Riverside Gold Metallic with option number 420 Saddle interior. Pristine does not even begin to describe this car, for it is just the way Chevrolet built it in 1969.
The story starts with its first owner, Raymond Butler, who purchased it new from Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn, Michigan. As a member of the Corvette Club of Michigan, Ray participated in several Concours events, autocross slaloms, and even entered his Corvette in a few drag racing events recording a best time of 11.70 in the quarter mile. Indeed, if one inspects this remarkably preserved Corvette close enough, the rub marks from the drag racing slicks are still visible on the fender wells. One can only imagine what the summer of 1969 must have been like behind the wheel of an L88 Corvette, but it appears that Ray had all the fun he needed that summer and the Corvette was placed into storage where it stayed until 1972. The car would change hands again including ownership by noted collector Jim Mattison, founder of the Pontiac Historical Society. Since 2006, this car has resided in a prominent California collection. It is evident that this Corvette's owners have had one thing in common; they all garaged it and kept it in incredibly pristine condition. It was always transported in an enclosed trailer everywhere it went, with very little time spent on the open road. In the present day, this 1969 Corvette could very well be the lowest mileage example of an L88 anywhere in the world. It has never been repainted and still retains over ninety-five percent of its original finish. The interior remains completely original including the factory GM sticker warning label that its thirsty 430 horsepower V-8 requires nothing less than premium octane fuel. It also still retains its factory exhaust system and, while the tires are not what were on the car when it was delivered new, they are correctly date-coded replacements. In a nod to preservation, the fuel tank has been removed and replaced. This was done because the factory build sheet was glued to the top of the tank and removing it would have destroyed it. The original fuel tank is sold with the car as proof of its provenance. Documentation for this rolling piece of history also includes factory window sticker, GM Protect-O-Plate, and warranty booklet.
It's truly a special set of circumstances that have allowed this Corvette to escape the ravages of time to remain in the condition it's in, but as if the car itself isn't enough of a story, its options are even better. Indeed it's one of only 101 built with the M-22 heavy-duty close ratio four-speed transmission, special heavy-duty suspension, heavy-duty brakes, and special off-road exhaust system. It is also one of only ten built with a 4.56:1 Positraction rear axle. Finally, it has the absolute king of the road option in the form of the L88 engine featuring 427 cubic-inches and 430 horsepower. Only 116 Corvettes built in 1969 can lay claim to this option. Clearly, this Corvette was built for speed and power and its finely preserved state and rare options makes it one of the most desirable Corvettes in existence. Collectors of vintage Corvettes are no stranger to this incredible time capsule as it has been displayed at the Domino's Farms Museum and the Gilmore Classic Car Club Museum. In 2005 it was NCRS Top Flight Certified. At that time it was noted on the judging sheet that while the engine number was correct and matching, the engine pad was thought to have been re-stamped, a practice not uncommon on L88s. It was also a participant in the 1988 Bloomington Gold Special Collection, the 1998 Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame, and the 2003 Bloomington Gold Special 50th Anniversary.
The Corvette has always been America's answer to some of the fine European sports cars, but it has also been in a class by itself. As the milestone, Corvettes take their place among the legendary Ferraris, Alfas, and Lamborghinis of the day and they do so with a sense of pride with a car that is special-built for just one purpose. This 1969 Corvette, with its authentic L88 option, was built at a time when maximum horsepower in a light-weight body made for a car that was like no other. This example, with its exact attention to detail and dedication to authenticity, is arguably the finest example of this chapter in the Corvette's history. Indeed, this is a Corvette by which all others could be judged. For the collector of America's sports car, this 1969 L88 is an important example that could serve as the very centerpiece of any world class collection. Likely the lowest mileage example in existence, entirely unrestored and heavily documented, this Corvette is without a doubt one of the most significant original L88s ever offered.