The story of this L88 is an interesting one. The two-time Bloomington Gold Award winner (most recently June of ‘18) was originally purchased new by a Navy sailor still in his teens named Robert (Bob) Baker. After reading a review in Hot Rod Magazine about the just introduced L88, Bob knew he had to have one (wouldn’t we all?!). Knowing this Corvette would give him the edge he needed at the drag strip, Bob went down to S & K Chevrolet in CA. armed with resolve and his nearly new ’66 Corvette as a trade-in. And drove off in his new L88 on June 5th, 1967. Believe it or not, Bob used the L88 as his daily driver for a short time. But decided that the road it was truly meant for had a Christmas Tree (the racing kind) on it and wisely took it off the street.
Bob began using the L88 strictly for drag racing, towing it behind his ’63 Split Window Corvette (!) to races in CA. and later in KS. after relocating there. The car ran in the 11-second range and was a consistent front-runner in the Top Stock class at tracks from Kansas City to Wichita and all the way down to Arkansas City. He eventually retired the L88 from competition, storing it in the family barn for the next 15 years. Bob later married and fell in love . . . with another Sunfire Yellow 427 Corvette! And got back into racing again with that car.
In 1986, the L88 was acquired by Steve Hendrickson of Long Lake MN. He soon began a meticulous, frame off, nut and bolt restoration that took over 10 years to complete. According to Hendrickson, the original chassis, L88 engine, M22 transmission, power brakes, master cylinder, suspension and trim were all retained. The other components sourced to complete the restoration were either restored originals or N.O.S. parts. The restoration was completed in time to enter the car in ’97 Bloomington Judging where it received a well-deserved Gold Certification! In ’99 Hendrickson sold the L88 to Lawrence Bowman who owned the car until just recently. The car has remained in top show-quality condition ever since and is the only L88 Coupe in existence that still retains its original engine! In addition to the Bloomington Gold Awards, documentation includes the Tank Sticker and a video of the previous owner discussing the cars history.
This is truly a significant piece of Corvette history and the absolute pinnacle of Corvette performance for decades to come!
A bit of L88 history . . . Any Corvette aficionado with more than a passing interest in Corvettes knows what RPO L88 stands for. Back in the un-restricted, fun loving ‘60’s, horsepower and cubic inches ruled. The Big Three were in an all-out street brawl (both literally and figuratively) to see who would be crowned King of the street and strip! Each were trying to build the ultimate big block. Ford had its Boss 429, Chrysler had it’s 426 Hemi. But if you really wanted to do some serious racing, and if you knew the secret word; you could walk into your local Chevy dealer in ’67, check RPO L88 on your order form and drive out in what is widely considered the most powerful “production” engine ever put into a street car.
The Corvette L-88 option was the result of years of developmental work that resulted in what was essentially a factory racing package that could be ordered directly from Chevrolet for a brand-new street Corvette. This package was only available from ’67-’69 and only 216 L-88’s were ever built; 20 in ’67, 80 in ’68 and 116 in ’69. This engine was so powerful, that it took very little preparation to get it racetrack ready. And race it did! L88’s competed and were successful in International races, such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona. These racing victories with the L-88 option package, made the Corvette an instant legend. The L-88 name and champion became interchangeable designations.
So, what’s a ’67 L88 Corvette made of?
Starting off with a special ultra-high-performance 427ci big block engine, added to that a heavy duty M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-spd. manual transmission, K66 transistorized ignition, J56 Heavy duty disc brakes, J50 power brakes, F41 heavy duty suspension, C48 heater delete, and to top it off, a cowl induction L88 hood. Additional options were available, but most buyers chose to keep their L88 ‘s pure, unadulterated race cars, as they were meant to be!
Of the 20 L88’s produced in 1967, roughly half still exist. The purpose and goal of these cars were one thing; go very fast on the race track and win! And they certainly did! Although some L88’s were driven on the street. Most saw track duty of some sort. And most were raced hard and put away wet. The thought of an L88 surviving with its original engine still under the hood would seem next to impossible over 50 years after they were first set tire on the street. But, believe it or not, some do (three to be exact) survive with their born with 427. This ultra-rare Coupe is one of them!