This car could scare the unmentionable out of the small-bore Eurocentric entries in tours, or it could graduate summa cum outlandish from other events.
In 1965, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Corvette Engineering Group began developing the new 427 Mark IV engine for use in the Corvette as a full-bore endurance-racing engine, and in 1967 their work came to fruition in the form of the RPO L88. Incorporating a forged and Tufftride-treated steel crank, forged rods, 12.5:1 pistons, aluminum heads, a radical solid-lifter cam and a single Holley 850 atop an aluminum intake manifold, the L88 was a formidable power plant. Rated at a paltry 430 horsepower, it could be tuned to approach 600 horsepower. Packaged with the requisite M22 “rock-crusher” four-speed, special heavy-duty power brakes, F41 suspension and bulletproof Positraction rear end, it gave the Corvette almost boundless potential in competition.
The L88 instantly established its racing dominance with this Tuxedo Black 1967 convertible, the first regular production L88 Corvette built. Ordered by Tony DeLorenzo Jr., son of GM Public Relations executive Anthony G. DeLorenzo, it was delivered to Hanley Dawson Chevrolet in Detroit, who also supplied the young DeLorenzo with the equipment and financial backing necessary to mount a campaign in SCCA A Production racing. Delivered into the Hanley shop directly from the transporter, the car was immediately prepped to A Production specs and entered in its first event at Wilmot Hills, WI, which it won going away. At the next event at Elkhart Lake, the car’s 155-mph top speed was such a shock to DeLorenzo Sr., who was watching from the pit straight, that it was two years before he would attend another of his son’s races.
That successful first season qualified the car for the SCCA Runoffs at Daytona Beach, where some of DeLorenzo’s strongest competitors were eliminated in an early, multi-car wreck, which he avoided before driving to a 2nd-place finish behind the Cobra 427 of Dick Smith. DeLorenzo next raced the L88 successfully through the 1968 season, after which it was sold and additionally campaigned for over a decade, culminating in the 1982 Canadian Road Race Championship. It was then retired from the track and expertly restored to its original configuration, earning multiple NCRS Top Flight and Duntov awards, Bloomington Gold certification, and a coveted spot in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection. In 2003, the car was returned to its 1967 SCCA runoffs configuration for the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, where it was reunited with its first owner for one more race.
Of the 20 L88s sold in 1967, only 14 examples are believed to still exist today. As the earliest surviving factory-ordered car with an impressive racing career, this is certainly one of the most historically significant of these L88s. Freshly restored to concours standards, this L88 convertible certainly qualifies as the centerpiece of any Corvette collection, a premiere example of the most powerful and dominant production racer of its era.