The car that most Corvette collections consider the ultimate was never meant to be. In GM’s master plan, the new body style introduced in 1968 was intended for 1967 production. Fortunately for Corvette fans everywhere, delays forced the continuation of the Sting Ray for one more year.
Corvette designers were instructed to carry out a minor facelift for these interim ’67 models. Fortunately, the engineers were not held back, and there were several changes to the engine lineup, including the legendary L71 435-hp, Tri-Power big block. Most performance buyers chose this option, assuming that it was the most powerful engine.
What they didn’t know was that Chevrolet had carefully hidden an even more potent option. In the catalog, the L88 engine was listed as a 430-hp option for $947.90, more than twice the price of the 435-hp L71 engine.
What that money bought is equally impressive. The L88 engine featured aluminum intake heads, an 850 CFM dual-feed Holley carburetor, transistor ignition and 12:1 compression. In addition, the L88 package included an aluminum radiator, heavy duty brakes, suspension, and the Muncie M-22 “rock crusher” transmission. A special cowl induction hood was fitted. What was not included—or even available—was air conditioning or a radio.
Although rated at 430 hp, the L88 is widely recognized as producing in excess of 500 hp—making a street L88 capable of 170 mph, right off the showroom floor. Intended to homologate the engine for racing, the L88 offering was kept quiet, with the factory and dealers actively discouraging orders by the public.
Although introduced in 1967, the thundering L88 continued to be available until 1969, making ’68 and ’69 L88s the most desirable of the next generation of Corvettes. With just 216 L88 models built over three years, it is also one of the rarest.
The example pictured here is an authentic original 1968 L88—one of just 80 built. It is well documented, including the original tank sticker, Protect-O-Plate, and shipping invoice. Sold new to George Montgomery, it was used as the pace car for the Donnington Motor Speedway in Minnesota.
Finished in Le Mans Blue with a black interior, and except for a high quality repaint, this L88 is completely original—it has never required restoration. This exceptional condition is no doubt due to the car’s remarkably low mileage—just 19,000.