Source: Gooding and Company Auctions
CHASSIS NO. 194679S721263
ENGINE NO. T1108IT 19S721263
In 1967, Chevrolet introduced its most powerful big-block Corvette to date – the L88.
Envisioned as a purpose-built racing package made available through a discreet factory option, the L88 came equipped with aluminum heads with enlarged valves, a forged cross-drilled crankshaft, a radical cam with mechanical valve lifters, a massive Holley carburetor, a lightweight Harrison cross-flow radiator, high-compression aluminum pistons, and special spark plugs and ignition wires. According to various sources, the thoroughly reworked 427 produced 560 hp and a staggering 550 lbs. /ft of torque from the factory.
In an effort to support the highly tuned V-8, the majority of L88s were fitted with performance options including heavy-duty suspension, a closeratio gearbox, and special brakes. Realizing that professional racing teams and privateers would tune the L88 to their own specific requirements, Chevrolet did not even give the option of ordering convenience accessories like a heater or radio – in fact, there were plugs in the dash where these features would normally be found. There was to be no question that the latest super Corvette was designed for the track, not the boulevard.
To keep the L88 out of less-than-capable hands, Chevrolet rated the motor at just 430 hp, even less than the standard L71, and charged approximately $1,600 for the option package, while a standard Corvette Coupe listed for just over $4,600.
In total, only 216 L88s were built between 1967 and 1969, accounting for a minuscule amount of total Corvette production. Despite their limited numbers, the L88s were a force to be reckoned with in international racing and achieved spectacular results at Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans.
Of the 116 Corvette L88s built for the 1969 model year, fewer than half were Roadsters. Even among this rarified group of Corvettes, this car stands out as a particularly special example.
The history of this remarkable L88 can be traced back to its original owner, Richard Johnston Thomas of Marietta, Georgia. A US serviceman stationed in South Korea, Mr. Thompson placed his order for a new L88 Roadster with Barclay & Company Central Chevrolet in Seoul on October 27, 1968.
Finished in Le Mans Blue (976) with a black vinyl interior, this Corvette was optioned with Soft-Ray tinted glass, custom shoulder belts, rear window defroster, special-purpose suspension (F41), Posi-Traction axle (G81), power brakes (J50), special brake system (J56), engine block heater (K05), full-transistor ignition (K66), special four-speed gearbox (M22), and an audio alarm system (UA6). An auxiliary hardtop was specified and trimmed in black vinyl, a perfect contrast to the bright blue bodywork. In total, this extensive list of options added $2,310.70 to the base price, taking the total sticker price to a staggering $6,839.70.
Constructed at the St. Louis, Missouri, plant on November 24, 1968, the L88 was originally delivered through General Motors Overseas Distributors Corp. in New York City. On February 10, 1969, shortly after returning home, Mr. Thompson collected his L88 in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1978, the L88 Roadster was sold to wellknown collector Dr. Paul Noble, a knowledgeable NCRS and Bloomington Gold judge. Dr. Noble retained the car for approximately 20 years, during which time it was carefully preserved in its original condition. The L88 then joined the respected Ron Landis Collection and was eventually sold to Don Felts, a Corvette enthusiast in Oxford, Mississippi.
Since 2005, the L88 has been a fixture in an impressive Southern California collection dedicated solely to exceptionally original, lowmileage sports cars. In a collection where only the finest unrestored examples will make the grade, this L88 met or surpassed all criteria of rarity, condition, documentation, and historical importance.
Over the years, this L88 Roadster has been the recipient of many awards, and its numerous Bloomington Gold honors are perhaps the proudest testament to its significance and status within the Corvette community.
In 2006, this car received the Bloomington Gold SURVIVOR award, confirming that it "remains over 50% unrestored, un-refinished, or unaltered," with finishes good enough to use as a guide for authentic, factory-original color. In addition to this rare distinction, the Le Mans Blue L88 Roadster was included in the 1988, 1998, and 2008 Bloomington Gold Special Collections, an honor reserved for only the finest, most important Corvettes. Beyond these important accolades, this Roadster one of just six L88s inducted into the esteemed Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame.
Kept in appreciative hands for over four decades, this car remains in wonderfully original condition and currently displays fewer than 20,000 miles from new. As can be expected of such a highly awarded example, this exceptionally rare L88 Roadster maintains a factory-correct presentation, from the largely original Le Mans Blue paint to the matching-numbers drivetrain. In addition to these important features, this rare Corvette is said to retain its original interior, shock absorbers, and exhaust, as well as factoryapplied chassis stencils and chalk marks. Most significantly, this Corvette has survived with its original, matching-numbers engine intact. In total, it is believed that a mere 15% of the ultra-rare L88s can make such a claim.
Regarded by many Corvette specialists as the most documented L88 known to exist, this car’s ironclad provenance is supported by an impressive file of paperwork that includes the original tank sheet, Protect-O-Plate, statement of origin, the GM invoice, delivery schedule, and a copy of Richard Thomas’ Georgia Certificate of Title.
In its day, the L88 represented the ultimate in styling, performance, and competition pedigree. Though produced in very limited numbers, these cars did much to further the reputation of the Chevrolet Corvette, both on the street and on the racetrack. As one of the most highly optioned, best-documented and well-preserved L88s known to exist, this Le Mans Blue Roadster is an important and irreplaceable part of Chevrolet history. For the collector who appreciates the significance of original, limited-production American performance cars, this L88 is an exceptionally rare prize.