1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88

1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88
  • Serial Number


  • Paint Color

    Riverside Gold

  • Engine

    427 CI V8

  • Interior Color

    Black Leather

  • Transmission

    4-Speed Manual

  • Mileage

    14,630 Miles

  • Price



Bringing the striking concept car looks of the Mako Shark II to standard production, the third generation Corvette, known as the C3, was lower, longer, and more modern looking than its predecessor. In its early form especially, the C3 combines beautiful Coke-bottle looks with full-strength 1960s performance. That performance came from a wide variety of powertrain options, with numerous states of tune of both the iconic 327 cid small block and 427 cid big block. To most, the 435hp L71 and L89 (with aluminum heads) engines, with their tri-power carburetors, 11.0:1 compression ratio, solid lifters, and more aggressive camshaft were the top of the performance heap, but for a select few road racers, there was the L88. 

The L88 was an extremely high-performance engine developed specifically to go racing. It first appeared in January of 1966 at the 24 Hours of Daytona, powering Roger Penske’s first victory as a team owner, a hard-earned GT class win despite a substantial crash during the night. Displacing the familiar 427 cubic inches that was by then normal in the “Mark IV” big blocks, the L88 also employed aluminum cylinder heads, high-lift racing camshaft, forged internals yielding a lofty 12:1 compression ratio, and carefully designed exhaust headers. In late L88s, the heads gained an “open-chamber” design with improved gas flow. Atop the L88 sat an 850 CFM Holley four barrel carburetor on an aluminum intake manifold.


It was, in essence, a full-on competition motor that was made available to the public. While it was rated at 430 or 435 hp like the L71 and L89 big blocks, the L88’s true output was between 100 hp and 150 hp more than that. This was done to deter “regular” consumers from ordering this racing engine, something which its substantial $1,871.35 premium on top of the 1969 Corvette’s $4871.00 base price also helped achieve.


The nearly $1900 cost of the L88 package consisted of $1032.15 for the engine itself, plus $839.20 of other mandatory equipment including close-ratio 4-speed manual M22 “rock crusher” transmission, transistor ignition, Positraction, and power-assisted heavy-duty brakes and suspension. The L88 was not available with power steering, radio, air-conditioning, or on early models, heater. The L88 option was never publicly listed due to Chevrolet’s corporate ban on racing, however Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov understood that motorsport was a critical part of the Corvette legend and wanted to offer privateers a turnkey racing power unit. Although the L88 did fly under management’s radar to some extent, its pedigree and capability made its purpose abundantly clear. If there was any doubt, a placard inside the car mandating the use of minimum 103 octane fuel served to eliminate any uncertainty. A unique hood with substantial power bulge to clear the carburetor served as one of the only other visual identifiers of the L88. The combination of price, restrictions on creature comforts, lack of visual identifiers, and the lunacy of the engine itself meant that L88 cars are extremely rare: just 216 were built during the three model years during which it was available, 1967 to 1969.

Of these, 116 were 1969 model year examples like this car, which is finished in Riverside Gold and was originally ordered with N14 factory side mounted exhaust. Other options beyond the usual L88 package equipment included white letter tires and tinted glass. The car was originally ordered by the son of the owner of Melton Motor Company in Belleville, Kansas to be used as a dealer demonstrator and weekend drag racer. During this time, the car set two AHRA World Drag Racing Records, running the quarter mile in 11.77 and 11.39 seconds at Manhattan Raceway Park in 1971, with AHRA certificates to confirm it. During their ownership, the car remained untitled, and passed on to its first official owner in 1982. He retained the car until 1988, selling it to its next owner, who kept it for 25 years. The car has extensive documentation substantiating its clear ownership history since new, including period photos, window sticker, tank sticker, and much more.


In 2010, the car received a restoration by Corvette specialist Kevin Mackay. Performed to exceptional standards, the work has earned this car numerous significant awards including Bloomington Gold Certification- and selection for the Bloomington Gold Collection, NCRS Top Flight and Duntov Mark of Excellence as well as MCACN Triple Diamond Certification. 

Today, the car remains in superb condition throughout and is exceptionally well documented, with period photos and a massive file of invoices, correspondence, and period documents from when the car was originally delivered, including Inventory Security Agreement, GMAC Wholesale Demonstration Plan and Demonstration Agreement, Car Shipper, Invoice to Dealership, In-Transit Card, Wholesale Billing and Payment Record, Warranty Card and Protect-O-Plate, Owner’s manual in clear pouch, Keys, key pouch, and leather Melton Motors key fobs, Various factory instruction and warning documents, Chevrolet Motor Vehicle Price Schedule with ordering options, File photographs showing L88 features, Sales documents to the second owner and Pennsylvania application for title.


Even among the rarefied company of the L88 Corvettes, built, this car stands out for its quality. It has well-documented and unbroken ownership history, an award-winning restoration, desirable equipment and options, and even a pair of World Drag Racing Records. Simply put, this makes it the ideal example for the discerning collector seeking the best.

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