052 - Rare Find Alert: 1967 Corvette L88, Singular Matching Numbers Coupe - Secure Your Finances, This Beauty Demands Respect!

In the illustrious year of 1967, the Corvette lineage quietly ushered in a revolutionary addition: the enigmatic L88. Despite its conspicuous absence from Chevrolet's official promotions, this powerhouse remained a whispered legend.

Mastermind Zora Duntov, architect of Corvette's most awe-inspiring performance innovations, boldly challenged GM's racing restrictions, recognizing the untapped potential for greatness in the sports car realm.

The brilliant engineer was also a skilled diplomat. He made sure that his newly created 427 cubic inches of raw power wasn’t simply dropped in the hands of racers still dripping assembly line grease. The infamous V8 ogre was instead offered as an option (code L88), but the average Joe never got the memo.

At least, not in 1967, when only 20 units were produced (that was the debut year for the legendary powerplant); in 1968 and 1969, GM top hats relaxed a bit and allowed the engine option to be published in the sales brochure.

However, the sixties were a troubled period for America, which was caught in the crossfire of several major events that impacted the entire planet. Between the assassination of JFK at the beginning of the decade and the space race, the United States also deeply sank in the Vietnam War. Young men – many still in their teens – were going halfway around the planet to serve in the military.

One of those brave souls was a certain Robert E. Baker, a sailor on the U.S.S. Firedrake, an ammunition ship supplying warships in the South Asian seas. On 22 April 1967, the ship returned from a six-month tour to her homeport in Concord, California. The date is relevant because, on June 5, Bob E. signed the contract for his brand-new Chevrolet Corvette Coupe with the L88 V8 in it.

The young sailor wanted the most powerful car he could find to do one thing when he returned from the frontline: win at drag racing. He traded in a ‘66 ‘Vette on the L88, but surprisingly, he first used the monstrously powerful two-seater as a daily driver. After a while, he decommissioned his car from active day-to-day duties. He assigned it a weekend plan of operations along a quarter-mile-long strip of tarmac.

Robert E. Baker put his L88 Corvette on a trailer and used a split-window ’63 to tow it around between tracks (and victories) in California and Kansas. In 1969, a towing incident determined the young man to put the L88 in permanent storage in the family barn. It stood there for a decade and a half and eventually met its new owner in 1986.

The man initiated a restoration project, and by the time he was finished, the car was nearing its 30th birthday. The decade-long operation was awarded a Bloomington Gold Certification in 1996, and the car was sold again. Over two decades went by, and the notoriously rare machine was auctioned for $2,988,888 on July 7, 2018.

What’s super-attractive about this example is that it still has the original legendary engine under the hood – and so far, all evidence points toward it being the last of its kind in this state. No other documented Chevrolet Corvette L88 coupe has the famous reciprocating pistons reactor installed by the factory.

Furthermore, this car has the original M22 transmission, 4.56 rear, power brakes, master cylinder, and suspension. To top the cake, the Sunfire Yellow shade is also certified as a one-car-only option among the L88 pack. Not just for the 1967 production run but for the entire 216-strong batch from the entire three-year series.

Interestingly, the car was never titled by any of its other owners, so the title is still issued to Robert E. Burke, the young war vet who bought it 57 years ago. In 2021, the car was again sold at the Mecum Glendale event in Arizona, with 348 miles (560 km) on the clock, for a more modest $2,695,000. Three years later, the car is again offered for purchase at the same public auction.

Developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov and Roger Penske through the 1965 and 1966 racing seasons, the 427 cubic-inch (7.0-liter) L88 engine is built around a reinforced iron block with 4-bolt main caps, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and high-compression forged aluminum pistons. The hottest solid-lifter camshaft ever installed on the Regular Production Option Chevrolet engine actuated a high-performance valvetrain built-in high-flow aluminum heads.

A monster cowl-induction-fed Holley 850 CFM four-barrel carburetor atop the open-plenum aluminum intake manifold cracked the whip on 430 horses (or so Chevrolet said). Lie-detector tests performed on highly tuned polygraphs (better known as dynos by gearheads) revealed some treacherously underrated official claims. The measurements reported around 550-560 hp (at 6,400 RPM) and close to 500 lb-ft (at 5,200 revs per minute) when 103-octane was used.

That’s 558-568 PS and 678 Nm, some scorching numbers indeed, especially in 1967, straight off the showroom floor. So hot numbers, in fact, that the car came without a heater – and it couldn’t be optioned backed on. This was all fun and games, and driving it was the only entertainment Bob Baker could get from it since the L88s didn’t have radios, either.

The L88 RPO also mandated unique suspension, heavy-duty disc brakes with vacuum assist, a Muncie M22 ‘Rock Crusher’ close-ratio four-speed manual gearbox, a Positive Traction rear axle, and transistor ignition with mechanical advance. A heavy-duty cross-flow aluminum radiator was used to cool off the fire-breathing mastodont. The exposed fan was very effective when the car went full steam, but the engine tended to overheat in casual day-to-day traffic.

This last-of-its-kind L88 from the debut year currently shows 356 miles on its odometer (573 km) and is sold on a bill of sale. Should the next owner wish to take it for a spin on public roads, a new title must be issued first. However, given its uniqueness, value, and backstory, the car will probably keep its trailer queen throne indefinitely.

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