1969 ZL1 Corvette at Bloomington Gold
1969 ZL1 Corvette
The ZL1 Corvette has been one of the most elusive Corvettes that I’ve come across in my days with Corvette hunts. I saw this Corvette back in 1996 at Bloomington Gold when it was presented in its Gulf Oil decals and stripes. It was at this 1996 show that I had the opportunity to personally speak to the original owner and his friend who were both present when this ZL1 Corvette was unloaded from the transporter as a brand new car in 1969 at West Penn Garage in Leechburg Pennsylvania. Then in 2013, I saw this ZL1 Corvette again at Bloomington Gold in the condition that you see in this article. This ZL1 Corvette was freshly restored by my friend Kevin Mackay at his Corvette Repair in Valley Stream New York. At that time, I was recovering from cancer surgery and was not able to spend more time on the judging field and to take the quality photos that you are accustomed to seeing. I am fine now, so I am thanking Steve Burns of CorvetteBlogger for these photos and the following text.
When it comes to rare Corvettes, the conversation naturally bends towards L88’s, big brake fuelie’s, C3 ZR1’s, and C2 Z06’s. Even rarer than those are a pair of Corvettes sold in 1969 sporting all aluminum ZL1 motors between the front fenders. RPO ZL1 cost $4,718.35 which was basically the same price as a base Corvette coupe.
GM records show that just 2 ZL1 equipped were sold to the general public. There’s great debate over how many other were potentially, built, converted, swapped, etc. Do a quick Google search on ZL1 Corvette and you’ll see what we mean.
The more widely known factory documented ZL1 is the yellow coupe owned by Roger Judski. That car has been known for several years and is seen periodically at the big shows like Bloomington Gold and Corvettes at Carlisle.
For years, though, the whereabouts of the 2nd factory documented ZL1 Corvette was only known by a few individuals. One of those lucky people was Bruce Perrone who has known the Monaco Orange on black convertible since he was young and in 2005 he was able to purchase the car from its original owner.
The story of the orange ZL1 has been told before in magazines like Corvette Fever and others, so we’ll just summarize it here. The car was bought new with its automatic transmission by John Mahler and raced heavily throughout its life. Competition duties included stints on hill climbs, drag strips, and auto cross courses. All that time sporting Gulf Oil livery. Today the car shows a tick over 3,000 miles on the odometer. According to the owner, the motor made 600ish horsepower well below redline during a dyno run.
We came across the car at the 2013 Bloomington Gold show in Illinois where it was being presented for Certification judging. At that time the car was just one week removed from a complete restoration by Kevin Mackay’s team at Corvette Repair. The old Gulf Oil scheme was removed and the car was taken back to stock form. As you’d expect, the car is now in factory fresh condition right down the natural colored all-aluminum ZL1 engine.