1968 L88 Corvette
1968 L88 Corvette
This 1968 L88 Corvette is one of just 80 built in 1968. 1968 was the first year for this new Mako Shark II inspired body style and it was the second year of production for the L88 option package. This 1968 L88 Corvette coupe retains its original matching-numbers engine and drivetrain and was expertly restored by Tim Thorpe in 1987. Soon afterwards, it earned Bloomington Gold and NCRS Top Flight certifications and was included in the 1988 Bloomington Gold Earthquake 88 Special Collection.
The L88 engine itself, famously made its debut in the Sunoco-sponsored Corvette Sting Ray coupe entered by Roger Penske in the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours. The Penske/Sunoco car finished first in GT, validating Zora Arkus-Duntov’s insistence on the need for a racing-only version of the production Corvette for international competition. The L88 engine was only the latest of Duntov’s clandestine pursuits, but one that would have lasting influence on the Corvette’s racing history. So for the 1967 model year, the L88 was offered not as an individual option but as one part of a comprehensive package that gave racers all the elements Duntov conceived as fundamental to preparing a Corvette for victory. The L88 option was not printed in ANY official Chevrolet or Corvette brochures which were handed out for no cost at Chevrolet dealerships. The L88 engine and its option package was only available to a select few dealers and customers. The L88 engine was of robust construction, incorporating forged steel internals and 4-bolt main bearing caps, 12.5:1 compression, a high-lift solid-lifter cam and large-valve aluminum heads, the first in a production big-block Corvette engine.
1968 L88 Corvette
A special air cleaner sealed the intake system to a unique cowl-induction hood, feeding fresh air to a Holley 850 CFM 4-barrel carburetor on an aluminum intake manifold which also held a distributor with no vacuum advance. The L88 was rated at 430 horsepower at an RPM well below the actual redline while breathing out of assembly line stock exhaust manifolds. The L88’s real output actually approached 560 horsepower with a factory designed header side exhaust system. The L88 was available only with a Muncie M22 4-speed manual transmission, K66 transistorized ignition with no shielding, heavy-duty F41 Special Suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, J50 power brakes and J56 heavy-duty brake calipers with semi-metallic pads and adjustable proportioning valve. Additionally, it used an aluminum radiator with no shroud for maximum cooling at race speeds, making the L88 poorly suited for low-speed road use. Reduced use of sound insulation and required radio and heater delete served to further “cut weight and discourage the car’s use on the street,” according to a contemporaneous “Corvette News” review. Built on May 1, 1968, this late-production 1968 L88 coupe was one of a pair of L88 Corvettes delivered new by Darrell Millisor Chevrolet of Russells Point, Ohio, to two brothers from nearby Bellefontaine. Interestingly, the two brothers waited patiently through production delays for the L88 engine and were likely the only two siblings to own brand-new L88 Corvettes. Ordered with the optional 4.56:1 gear set, N11 Off Road Exhaust, Soft Ray-tinted glass, telescopic steering column and head restraints, it is finished in Silverstone Silver with the original black interior. Its comprehensive documentation includes NCRS and Bloomington Gold judging sheets, copies of correspondences between the GM Central Office and the original owner, as well as the original tank sticker, Protect-O-Plate and owner’s manual.
1968 Corvette L88
Here’s a summary of features for this 1968 Corvette L88
– Bloomington Gold Certified, 1988
– Bloomington Gold Earthquake 88 Special Collection, 1988
– NCRS Top Flight, 1988
– Original tank sticker
– Late production car
– One of 80 produced with the L88 engine in 1968
– Frame-off restoration completed in 1987 by Tim Thorpe
– Matching numbers 427/430 HP engine
– Off Road exhaust
– M22 4-speed transmission
– 4.56 Positraction rear end
– F41 suspension
– J50 power brakes
– J56 heavy duty brakes
– Silverstone Silver with original Black leather interior
– Head restraints
– Copies of correspondences from the GM Central Office and the original owner
– Judging sheets
– Owner’s manual
Jeremy Cliff Photos and edited text courtesy of Mecum Auctions.