Chevrolet made only 20 examples of the Corvette with the high-performance, track-ready L88 package in 1967. What's presented as the best example left could become the most expensive Corvette ever sold at an auction.
In Corvette-speak, L88 corresponds to an option package that bundled a 427-cubic-inch V8 engine in the vicinity of 530 horses. The V8 received aluminum cylinder heads and a single Holley four-barrel carburetor, among other modifications. Ticking the L88 box also deleted the radio, the heater, and the fan shroud to save weight. Chevrolet charged $947 for the package, which represents about $7,300 in 2020.
216 cars were built with the L88 package, but only 20 of them were manufactured in 1967, the first year Chevrolet offered this option. Wearing serial number 21550, this convertible example also happens to be the last 1967 Corvette built. Cliff Gottlob, an engineer in Kansas, purchased it new and later drove it to Daytona (a 1,636-mile trip) to compete in the 24-hour race with friends and family members helping him in the pits. He took second place in the GT category (and 11th overall) in 1970 before packing up his tools and driving the Corvette home to Kansas. Stephen Cox's book "Against All Odds" tells the tale of Gottlob's Daytona adventure in colorful details.
Gottlob continued racing his L88 until 1975, and he sold it to Jim Krughoff and David Burroughs three years later. They gave it a complete restoration but kept as many of the original parts as possible; even the V8 is original to the car. The sale includes a second L88 engine that has been fully rebuilt in case the buyer wants to avoid putting miles on the original V8. All of the people that have added this Corvette to their collection over the years have recognized its significance, which adds credibility to auction house Mecum's claim that it's the ultimate L88. It's one of the few Corvettes ever invited to bask on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Mecum has opened bidding, and the Corvette is up to $150,000 as of writing. It still has a long way to go; the pre-auction estimate is anywhere between $4 million and $5 million. While that's a massive amount of money to pay for a classic Corvette, looking at previous L88 sales suggests the estimate is accurate. Barrett-Jackson sold a red-on-red 1967 coupe (which was presented as being "the best of the best") for $3.85 million in 2014, and it still stands out as the most expensive Corvette ever sold at an auction. The second, third, and fourth spots are occupied by L88s, too, while the fifth most-expensive Corvette is a Pininfarina-bodied 1963 concept car.
In addition to the spare engine, the sale includes a thick stack of documents like the original window sticker, the dealer invoice, and the factory ID card. The buyer will also receive images of the car during its racing days.