Today on our blog, we are looking at a 1967 L88 Corvette with a great story to tell that will soon be going to the Mecum Auction. This car is the most successful L88 Corvette race car of all time during its eight-year racing career with its original owner, Cliff Gottlob.
We will share with you a short version of the history of this Corvette race car. On the Mecum Auction website, you can read the complete story in a great book by Stephen Cox, “Against All Odds.” https://mecum.dcatalog.com/v/The-Ultimate-L88/
Our story starts with the original owner, Cliff Gottlob of Arkansas City, Kansas. Cliff worked full time as an engineer and operated a self-sponsored and underfunded privateer racing team on the weekends.
At age 15, Cliff Gottlob graduated from high school. He was the youngest student to attend the Carter Carburetor School in St. Louis, Missouri, where he earned five engineering degrees from Heidelberg University. and
While in St. Louis, he had the opportunity to tour the Corvette assembly plant, and like so many of us, he “got hooked” on Corvettes.
He developed a knack for synchronizing the complex triple 2-barrel side-draft carburetor setups on early Corvettes. Soon the word spread about his mechanical ability, and Cliff had lots of Corvettes to work on.
In the 1960s, Gottlob went on to set world records during his drag-racing career. His early success in quarter-mile racing got him the attention of Chevrolet’s inner circle of executives, engineers, and developmental specialists.
By the mid-1960s, Gottlob was dead-set on road racing and needed a car.
On June 5, 1967, his close friend and Chevrolet executive Ralph Miller arranged a discounted price on a 1967 Corvette L88 convertible. The order was executed with plans for delivery to be taken at the Corvette factory.
July 3, Chevrolet called and said his car was ready. But he had a full docket of drag-racing contract work, and he needed to earn money to pay for the L88, so he pushed back the date for taking delivery of the car.
In August, Chevrolet called again. They were furious that a 1967 Corvette was sitting among a parking lot of new third-generation models. Gottlob’s L88 was preventing accountants from clearing the books on the previous year’s car and was notably the last midyear Corvette to leave the factory.
Cliff finally went to St. Louis to pick up his new racecar in early August 1967. The trip back to Kansas was not without trouble. He ended up brought it back home on a trailer.
In Stephen Cox’s story, we learn that Chevrolet “made good on the deal and offered Gottlob any parts he needed to fix the engine at no cost.”
He was ready and anxious to race, so he left the rebuilt 427 on the floor at his shop and put a 283 engine (bored to 292 cubic inches) into the L88. This would also keep miles off the original 427. He took his Corvette and began racing in local SCCA events.
By the fall or 1969, he was ready to race at American road racings most’ sought-after prize’ the Daytona 24 Hour Endurance race.
Gottlob’s, unsponsored, blue-collar, privateer, racing team drove their 1967 L88 Corvette 1,636 miles from Kansas to Daytona to compete against the best in the world in America’s grandest endurance race with an amateur pit crew of family and friends.
At the Daytona 24 Hour Endurance race of 1970, Cliff Gottlob’s racing team stunned the field by finishing second in GT Class and 11th overall. After the race, they packed up and drove the L88 race car back to Kansas.
This L88 Serial Number 21550 was piloted to nearly 300 podium finishes, including more than 150 outright wins, and during that time, it took home a record-setting 52 consecutive victories.
As we mentioned, this LOT R255 1967 L88 Corvette Race Car will be going to the Mecum Auction in Indy. The Mecum Indy Auction will be held on July 10-18, 2020 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E 38th Street Indianapolis, IN 46205.
Cliff Gottlob’s L88 Corvette has a complete ownership chain of Corvette owners who have carefully preserved this iconic racer.
The collectively exhaustive list of owners of this 1967 L88 Corvette includes:
- Cliff Gottlob (1967-1978)
- Jim Krughoff and David Burroughs (1978-1997)
- Bill McDonagh (1997-2013)
- Dana Mecum (2013-Present).
Bloomington Gold Great Hall 2013
In 2013, this L88 Daytona Racer was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall as one of the 50 most significant Corvettes of all time.
Entered in over 350 competitive events, it finished first over 150 times— winning 52 consecutive races. It finished in the top three over 75% of the time, including 2nd place at the 1970 Daytona 24 Hour. Unsponsored. Speeds reached 186 mph at Daytona and 203 mph at Talladega. This is the only known pre-C3 production Corvette to reach 200 mph.
Later in 2013, this car joined an exclusive group of very few Corvettes ever invited to grace the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Mecum website says,
“When comparing the upper echelon of investment-quality collector cars, several aspects separate great cars from the rest: rarity, pedigree, provenance, racing history, originality, and authenticity. This 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible exceeds expectations in every category and can be suitably referred to as “The Ultimate L88.” In fact, according to Bloomington Gold Founder David Burroughs, “Not one minute of ownership, one piece of paper or one alteration is unaccounted for.”
Just 216 L88 Corvettes were produced over three years from 1967-69. Only 20 L88s were built in the first year offered, making the 1967 L88 Corvette one of the most desirable of all Corvettes.
Because the original owner meticulously preserved the car and its original components, the Mecum’s website says, “this is one of the most authentic and well-preserved examples of a 1967 L88 Corvette.”
“The original owner saved most of the original components that were removed for competition and were included with the car in its 1978 sale to Krughoff and Burroughs.”
After years of research, David Burroughs began a historically correct rehabilitation to its 1970 Daytona as-raced configuration. Special attention paid to match the “look” of its racing days from 1967-1975.
Many of the original components remain unrestored to this day while other parts were restored or replaced as needed to stay in sync with the original unrestored elements on the car during its legendary Daytona run.
Even the minor cosmetic imperfections suffered during the competition were precisely documented and reapplied to pay homage to its illustrious racing career.
A freshly rebuilt, period-correct L88 engine is included in the sale if the new owner chooses to preserve the original engine.
Other documentation includes the original tank sticker, window sticker, order form, shipper copy, dealer invoice, factory inspection form, factory ID card, vintage photos, complete ownership history, and a remarkable racing career
The Mecum’s website says, “This car is also the only 1967 L88 Corvette to retain its complete original engine, consisting of the original engine block, heads, crankshaft, rods, pistons, lifters, and valve train.”
You will undoubtedly enjoy reading Stephen Cox’s “Against All Odds.” https://mecum.dcatalog.com/v/The-Ultimate-L88/
We’ll be watching this car for you and will update our article with the results from the Mecum Auction.
The Ultimate L88 Corvette
- Bloomington Gold Great Hall Inductee
- The last 1967 Corvette to leave the factory
- The only 1967 L88 Corvette to retain its complete original L88 engine
- Documented with the original tank sticker, window sticker, order form, shipper copy, dealer invoice, factory inspection form, and factory ID card
- Purchased new by Cliff Gottlob of Arkansas City, Kansas
- Driven by Cliff Gottlob and Dave Dooley to 2nd in GT Class and 11th overall at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1970
- Driven to nearly 400 podium finished and more than 150 outright wins during its 8-year racing career with the original owner Cliff Gottlob, during that time the car took home 52 consecutive victories
- Gottlob kept the car until 1978 when he sold it to David Burroughs and Jim Krughoff
- Burroughs and Krughoff sold to the car to Bill McDonagh in 1997
- McDonagh sold the car to Dana Mecum in 2013
- A freshly rebuilt, period-correct L88 engine is included if the new owner chooses to preserve the original engine
- According to David Burroughs, ‘not one minute of ownership, one piece of paper, or one alteration is unaccounted for.’
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