Mecum Auctions, Dallas, TX
September 3 - 6, 2014
Even among the hallowed ranks of its peers, this 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 is a special automotive treasure. Its first owner was renowned L88 racer Tony DeLorenzo, who enjoyed success in SCCA racing in a 1967 L88 and later shared 22 consecutive wins in a pair of Owens-Corning Fiberglas-sponsored C3 L88s with his racing partner Jerry Thompson. In the midst of becoming one half of the most successful Corvette racing team in history, Tony DeLorenzo special-ordered this triple Black L88 convertible from his racing sponsor, Hanley Dawson Chevrolet, to use as a daily driver.
The car is one of only two 1969 L88 convertibles finished in this sinister-looking combination, which perfectly suits its subject. There is more than one reason so few L88 Corvettes made it to the street, the main one being that it was simply impractical as a road car: heater and radio delete, no power accessories or air conditioning allowed; no fan shroud, meaning a tendency (actually practically a guarantee) to overheat in traffic, and the necessity for aviation-grade gasoline. The L88 was in fact a race car disguised as a production car, because that was the only way Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov could work around GM's corporate ban on factory involvement in racing. Another factor was the cost: the L88 option package added a whopping $1,032.15 to the Corvette convertible's $4,438 price tag, almost $600 more than the L71 option that was rated 5 horsepower higher than the L88's absurdly misleading 430 HP rating.
Of course, none of these factors was a deterrent to Tony DeLorenzo, who not only drove his L88 daily but also dressed it up to match his Owens-Corning-sponsored racer, adding chromed Kustom exhaust headers and side pipes, FIA-spec Plexiglas-covered headlight assemblies, fender flares and a urethane bumper. In December 1969 DeLorenzo sold the car to his friend Curt Wetzel, a German pilot who flew for Pan Am Airlines. Wetzel raced the car throughout Europe and proved virtually unbeatable. The car so frustrated its opponents that the Porsche factory actually bought the car to remove it from competition! Nonetheless, the car later returned to the track under the ownership of Hans Hirt of Switzerland. Hirt owned the car for twelve years before selling it to Joe DeMesy of Dallas, Texas, who in 2003 delivered it to Naber Brothers in Houston for a frame-off restoration.
Since being returned to its factory-original state, the restored L88 has collected numerous awards. In 2005 it earned a place in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection and scored NCRS Top Flight honors. It followed that up with Bloomington Gold, Chevy Vettefest Gold Spinner and Triple Crown laurels in 2006, and in 2007 a place in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection and in 2008 another trip to the Bloomington Gold Special Collection.
Easily identified by its European license plate signed by Tony DeLorenzo, this very special L88 convertible was featured in the L88 Showcase at the inaugural Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals held in November 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. Today it remains one of the most popular machines at any gathering of the greatest racing Corvettes ever made.
- Triple Black L88 Convertible
- Special order by Tony DeLorenzo from his racing sponsor Hanley Dawson Chevrolet
- Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame
- Two-time Bloomington Gold Special Collection
- Vettefest Gold Spinner and Triple Crown
- NCRS Top Flight award winner
- Naber Brothers frame-off restoration
- DeLorenzo took delivery in early 1969 and drove it daily until Curt Wetzel convinced him to prepare it for racing and sell it
- Wetzel campaigned the L88 in Germany until purchased by the Porsche team
- Later purchased by Mr. Hans Hirt of Switzerland and kept for 12 years until selling to Joe DeMesy
- L88 427/430 HP V-8, 4-speed manual
- Rally wheels and redline tires
- 1 of 116 L88 Corvettes built in 1969
- European license plate signed by Tony DeLorenzo