Two 1969 L88s Go to Auction

In this blog post, we are continuing our look at some of the unique Corvettes at the Mecum Kissimmee Auction that is going on right now (January 3-13, 2019).

Would you like to own a 1969 L88 Corvette? Better yet, how about two? Mecum Auction in Kississimee is offering two Tuxedo Black L88s as a pair. Lot F151 will cross the block Friday, January 11 at the Florida auction . . . The World Largest Collector Car Auction!

We’ve done a lot of coverage this year in Vette Vues Magazine on the L88s including extensive coverage of the Bloomington Gold L88 Explosion that took place in June at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (October 2018 Issue) where there were twenty-four 1969 L88s on display!

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As you will remember, 1969 was the last year for the L88 option. The L88 ran only three years from 1967-69, and only 216 were produced. There were just 116 L88s produced in 1969.

The base cost of a 1969 Corvette was $4,781 for the coupe and $4,438 for the convertible then you had to add various RPOs: The L88 427, 430hp Engine cost an additional $1,032.15 then you add options F41, G81, J50, J56, K66, MA6, M22, and M40 all the extra cost comes to $2,135.30.

A couple of interesting facts about the 1969 L88s:

A.) For the first time, an automatic transmission was also available. It was the M-40 Turbo, and it cost the same as the M-22. A total of 17 L88s were produced with the M-40 in 1969.

B.) Included in the cost of the L88 package was a new 10” Diameter Disc Heavy Duty Clutch assembly previously not offered. It’s RPO was MA6 The clutch, and open chamber heads weren’t available until approximately the summer of 1969.

What we learn from the Mecum’s website is that “These two L88 Corvettes, one coupe, and one convertible, will be offered together as a pair at the 2019 Kissimmee auction.

1969 Corvette L88 Convertible Serial No. 720068

The triple-black L88 convertible was special ordered new by Corvette racing legend, Tony DeLorenzo, from his racing sponsor, Hanley Dawson Chevrolet, to use as a daily driver.

The L88 coupe retains its original L88 427/430 HP V-8 engine and has been driven just 2,000 original miles since new.

DeLorenzo added chromed Kustom exhaust headers and side pipes, FIA-spec Plexiglas-covered headlight assemblies, fender flares, and a urethane bumper.

Later he sold it to his friend Curt Wetzel. Curt was a German pilot who flew for Pan Am Airlines. He raced the car throughout Europe and was virtually unbeatable. Interestingly, the Porsche racing team bought the car to remove it from the competition.

Under the ownership of Hans Hirt of Switzerland, the car returned to the track. He owned the car for 12 years and had a frame-off restoration to a factory-original state by the Naber Brother of Houston in 2004, just before selling it to Joe DeMesy of Dallas, Texas.

Mecum’s website shows “the restored L88 has collected numerous awards. In 2005, it earned a place in the Bloomington Gold “Great Stories” Special Collection where DeLorenzo was reunited with the car after 36 years; later that year, the car earned NCRS Top Flight honors. It followed that up with Bloomington Gold certification, Chevy Vettefest Gold Spinner and Triple Crown laurals in 2006, and in 2007, the car was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame. In 2008 and 2018, the car was displayed at Bloomington Gold for the L88 Invasion and L88 Explosion Special Collections. This very special L88 convertible was also featured in the L88 Showcase at the Muscle Car, and Corvette Nationals held in November 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.”

The car has its European license plate signed by DeLorenzo. It has documented correspondence between DeLorenzo and Hirt from 1994. There is also a copy of the original window sticker sent from DeLorenzo to Hirt in 1994, a notarized affidavit from DeLorenzo confirming his ownership of the car when new, vintage racing photos, FIA Homologation paperwork, NCRS Shipping Data Report showing delivery to DeLorenzo’s race sponsor Hanley Dawson Chevrolet and old magazine articles.

1969 Corvette L88 Coupe Serial No. 728007

The second L88 we are going to look at has a very unusual beginning.

Tony Franchi, enjoyed a long career at Wigder Chevrolet in Livingston, New Jersey, the car’s selling dealer. He wrote a letter in 1995 to the car’s then-owner Bob Rush of Clewiston, Florida. In the letter, he describes how the original purchaser left the car stored at the dealership “for the longest time.” The customer finally arrived to pick up his new car, but he showed up with a flatbed trailer. He winched the new L88 onto the trailer without going through the pre-delivery inspection. A curious employee asked him what he was going to do with the car. The customer’s reply was straightforward: “Put it away.” And that is precisely what happened because it never appeared at Wigder Chevrolet again.

The car now has just a little over 2,000 miles on it. This 1969 L88 is Tuxedo Black with a black interior, Rally wheels, and Firestone Blackwall tires. It has its factory-original drivetrain, L88 427/430 HP engine with late-production open-chamber aluminum heads, a Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed and 4.56:1 Positraction rear end. In addition to the L88-specific F41 special suspension, K66 transistorized ignition, and J50-J56 special power disc brakes, the car features bright front-fender louver trim and Soft Ray-tinted glass.

We learn from Mecum’s website “the car was awarded both Bloomington Gold and NCRS Regional Top Flight honors in 2004, a result of the careful restoration by the Naber Brothers of Houston, Texas, that encompassed NOS parts including five Firestone tires. It was then invited to the 2008 Bloomington Gold L88 Invasion and 2018 L88 Explosion Special Collections, further adding to its accolades. Documented with the letter as mentioned above from Wigder Chevrolet, this top-tier collector Corvette L88 comes complete with judging sheets and certificates, restoration receipts and owner’s manual. Furthermore, the original L88 engine has been affirmed by Al Grenning’s Classic Car Affirmation Services.”

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