- Part of the Tyson Collection
- Top Flight Award Winner in September 2011
- Original, legible tank sticker
- 427/435 hp
- Matching-numbers engine
- Aluminum head option
- Close-ratio 4-speed transmission
- 3.70:1 differential
- Corvette Bronze with tobacco leather interior
- Power windows
- Power brakes
- F41 suspension
- Telescopic steering column
- Transistor ignition
- Tinted glass
- Auxiliary hard top
|Vehicle:||1968 Chevrolet Corvette 427/435 L89 convertible|
|Number Produced:||624 (1968)|
|Original List Price:||$5,125|
|Tune Up Cost:||$660|
|Distributor Caps:||$249.95 (K66 brown Delco Remy cap)|
|Chassis Number Location:||Driver’s side A-pillar, dashboard driver’s side|
|Engine Number Location:||On engine block in front of passenger’s side cylinder head|
|Club Info:||National Corvette Restorers Society|
|Alternatives:||1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6, 1969 Dodge Super Bee A12 440 Six Pack, 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30|
This car, Lot ST0099, sold for $96,300, including buyer’s premium, at the GAA auction in Greensboro, NC, on March 4, 2017. It was offered without reserve.
When the all-new Corvette body finally broke cover in the fall of 1967, controversy appeared to be its middle name. Fans were delighted with how closely the Sting Ray resembled the Mako Shark show car. Detractors noted a reliance on gimmick items such as hideaway windshield wipers and excess length, as well as a disturbing lapse of quality control on early examples. Road & Track had to swap their L71 for a small block due to problems, while Car and Driver refused to do a review of their test car, citing quality control issues.
Nevertheless, it was an exciting, visceral automobile that offered a lot of bang for the buck. Buyers had a cornucopia of small- and big-block engines from which to choose.
In 1968, the 435-hp L71 drew major attention due to its position as top-horsepower V8 in the line-up. The L71 also had eye appeal for casual enthusiasts due to the luscious Holley tri-carb system and unique chrome triangular air cleaner.
The 435 also drew attention away from the real savage of the pack: the 430-hp L88. A full-bore race engine disguised with terrible street exhaust manifolds and dumbed-down ignition timing curve, the L88 gained 100 horsepower just with proper headers. GM didn’t want Walter Mitty types driving an L88 — it was for pros. For most, the L71 was a better choice, as in stock form, the 435 was plenty fast, and the usual super-tuning tricks could take it into the 12s in the quarter. It was a good package.
The L71 was an iron-block 427 stuffed with 11.1 pistons, Holley triple 2-barrel carbs (two R3659As and one R4055A) plus a Winters aluminum intake manifold. A solid-lifter camshaft was used, along with a set of closed-chamber rectangular-port heads. The bottom was fortified with forged crankshaft and four-bolt mains. If you added the L89 option, you got the same heads in aluminum. It gave you a minor break with detonation, but with 11:1 compression, any original L89 needs race gas to live today. The key here was in weight savings — about 80 pounds off the nose of the car.
When it comes to performance, the L71 was a strong, but not invincible, runner. Car Life mag recorded a blistering 13.41 ET at 109 mph. A Hemi Charger could take it, as could a Hemi Road Runner, but both cars would have to be 4-speed Super Track Pack jobs. In the ’60s, the biggest worries this ’Vette had were L88s, but that ended in 1970 when a fleet of big-bore A-bodies appeared en masse to cause grief.
Good equipment, nice color
This particular car has desirable goodies such as the K66 transistorized ignition system, off-road exhaust system, F41 front and rear high-performance suspension and the M21 4-speed close-ratio transmission. Our subject car also has power windows, power disc brakes, telescopic steering column and CO7 auxiliary hard top with extra-cost C08 vinyl covering.
The final coup de grace is the magnificent Corvette Bronze paint finish. It isn’t a particularly rare shade, with 3,374 produced, but not many of them were repainted to original over the years. It seems to be a color one either loves or loathes.
With the L89 numbers-matching drivetrain, the K66 ignition and good original condition, this car is a solid blue-chipper for any serious collector. Perhaps the best part of this deal is how close you are to getting supercar L88 performance without the bank-busting cost. You even get a radio — something L88 owners were denied.
That brings us to the selling price: Was $96,300 a steal? 2014 was a good year for L89 sales, as a few crossed the block. The average for a solid, no-stories convertible was $77,000. A nice numbers-matching L89 ragtop with F41 and off-road exhaust sold at Worldwide Auctioneers for $71,500 (ACC# 243567). Another convertible sold at Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale event in 2014 for $85,000 (ACC# 232323) Previous auctions for that car garnered high bids of $35,000 and $54,000 in 1998 and 2001, respectively. It has been described as an “honest driver” and “10-footer.” Like so many other cars, they’re frequently purchased for resale, with commensurate rising prices.
The L89 option adds a healthy — some say up to 50% — rise in value on a matching-numbers L71. On examples with MIA engines, the bump is a lot smaller. Many of these cars were wrenched on from new because, let’s face it, multi carbs were cool, and making them run right demanded a fair bit of work. It wasn’t unusual to start out removing the fuel-bowl vent tubes from the outboard carbs to kill the backfire problem and wind up swapping over to a big double-pumper 4-barrel and intake along with a lumpy cam. Once these became used cars, strange things happened.
Seven years ago it was possible to get a really nice L89 convertible for $50k. During the midst of the worst economy in ages, astute buyers picked all the low-hanging fruit off the trees from distress sales. Things tightened up in 2014, and now we’re seeing a minor uptick in L89 prices.
Our subject car sold above ACC’s $81,500 median value. The buyer got a first-year Shark that won awards, is a numbers-matching 4-speed car, has excellent period colors and a tank sticker. Due to a yearlong absence of sales on this combo, I’m loath to say this was a steal, but I believe it was well bought, and I think it will look like an even better deal over time.
(Introductory description courtesy of GAA Classic Cars.)