The L-88 C2 Chevrolet Corvette is the racing edition of the 427 cubic-inch big block Mark IV V-8 engine. In 1965, Roger Penske received a telephone call from Corvette designer Zora Duntov. Duntov offered Penske a chance to acquire one of the C2 Vettes with this engine installed. Penske did not hesitate and became the first individual to take delivery of an L-88 Corvette. At this time, Roger Penske also acquired from Duntov the last two Grand Sports — Corvettes that had been changed to convertibles to reduce wind drag and lift at high speeds. Penske had the idea of installing the L-88 engine into these two racing Corvettes; he ultimately raced them at the 12-hour Sebring in 1966.
The car Penske used in the competition had the L-88 engine but with
cast-iron heads for more horsepower. Due to time limitations,
technicians could only estimate spring rates and tire sizes.
Race technicians however were able to fit tires and springs properly on
the other Grand Sport. With an L-88 engine that sported the original
aluminum heads, this C2 Corvette did quite well that year with George
Wintersteen behind the wheel.
Much of today’s standard Corvette technology, including fine-tuned
suspension, wide tires, and aluminum engines, can be traced to the 1963
Grand Sport innovations.