Will this righteous L88 be the most expensive Corvette sold at auction?
The L88 Corvette needs little introduction. It is the rarest of its breed, and for decades was the most powerful Corvette that Chevrolet built. Without exaggeration, this is one of the legendary Corvettes in the model’s rich history—and Mecum Auctions has the top dog. Coming to its Harrisburg sale later this month is the first regular production L88 Corvette. And if the wind blows the right way, it could very well become the most expensive Corvette ever sold at auction.
What makes the L88 so special?
1967 Corvette L88s are hugely desirable. It marks the first year of production for the L88 option, and only 20 such cars were produced—Chevrolet never actively marketed the L88 option, nor $947.90 price tag, which tacked on nearly 25 percent to the price tag of a base Corvette.
That hefty price tag got you one serious power plant. While Chevrolet rated the tri-power 427s at slightly higher rated horsepower, the 430-hp L88 had a wicked little secret. It was actually a full-tilt race engine you could have factory-installed. Any experienced bench racer can tell you that when you set up an engine with 12.5:1 compression, cam lift of .560 intake and .580 exhaust, Winters aluminum, rectangular port heads and an 850-CFM Holley carburetor, you get a helluva lot more horsepower than 430. In fact, independent dyno tests peg these bests deep into the 500-hp range.
On top of it all, many consider the L88s the best looking.
The first-ever Corvette L88
Any ’67 L88 coming to sale is a big deal, but this car kicks it up a notch. First of all, its status is confirmed—experts agree that this car is the first regular production L88. If that isn’t enough, it had a successful racing career at the hands of Tony DeLorenzo, a racing god amongst Corvette enthusiasts. This is the car that helped put him on the map. It was first delivered to Hanley Dawson Chevrolet in Detroit, who sponsored the car for DeLorenzo’s SCCA season. Promptly after delivery, the car was upgraded for racing and campaigned. The first outing, the car took a win at Wilmot Hills, Wisconsin.
Throughout the season, DeLorenzo and his Corvette were successful enough to qualify for the SCCA Runoffs at Daytona International Speedway, where he took second place. The success of the 1967 season helped DeLorenzo secure a spot racing at 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring for the 1968 season. The 1967 Corvette was in the stable for the season, but the team’s new 1968 L88 Corvette was the primary car that year. After the ’68 season, the 1967 Corvette was sold and campaigned very successfully up to the early 1980s.
After this thoroughbred was retired, it received a full restoration in short order. The L88 was Bloomington Gold and NCRS Top Flight certified, and it later received NCRS Performance Verification. The car was invited to take part in several Bloomington Gold special collections in 1985, 1988 and 1992. More recently, the L88 received the NCRS American Heritage Award, as well as the highly coveted MCACN Triple Diamond Award, after a restoration back to street configuration. Needless to say, the L88’s show history is about as impressive as its race pedigree.
Show me the money
Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is “what is it worth?” Significant cars like this are often difficult to pin down in terms of value. Currently, we value a top-condition ‘67 L88 Corvette at $3.45M. However this L88 has appeared at a few auctions in the past, which can help paint a picture of what to expect.
Its first public offering was back in 2007 at RM Sotheby’s Phoenix event, where it brought a hefty $1.55M bid without selling. The car surfaced again in 2010 at Mecum’s Monterey sale where it brought a sale price of $1.325M. Both times the car was observed in person as a #2+ (Excellent condition, but approaching Concours status) which values this car at 20 percent more highest valuation at the time for the model. Following that logic, if you apply 20 percent to our existing top value, this car could—theoretically—sell for $4.14M.
Of course, this is perfect example of what the right provenance can do for a car’s value. A car’s individual story can always set it apart. If this car can pull off a repeat performance at Mecum, then it is likely it car could very well become the most expensive Corvette sold at auction.
The current record is held by a 1967 L88 Coupe which sold for $3.85M at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale from 2014. If any car has a fighting chance of besting that record, it is this one.
You can follow the auction and the L88 Corvette on the free Hagerty Insider app, which allows you to access Hagerty’s price guide, follow along with live auctions, and see details of recent sales of your favorite cars.