The Baddest Corvette of Them All: The L88 Stingray
Many people consider the L88 Stingray, manufactured between 1967 and 1969, to be the baddest and biggest Corvette ever built. This vehicle sported a comprehensive racing package, including big block V8 with solid-lifters and special Can-Am-spec cylinder heads. It was one of the first vehicles in the Corvette line to be manufactured specifically with racing in mind. Read on for a brief overview of this unique Corvette and why it has come to be such a collector’s item now.
Overview of the L88
The L88 was developed specifically for the race track, not intended especially to be used for standard driving. In fact, the vehicle was able to achieve a top speed of 171 miles per hour and boasted over 500 horsepower, which was a tremendous achievement for a vehicle at that point in manufacturing history.
The vehicle engine and block were originally designed in 1966 as the first big-block engine. In the years between the development of this first block and the release of the L88, Corvette went back through the parts of the big block and meticulously updated as many of them as possible to account for performance. Thus, the vehicle contained a huge number of custom parts, including the special aluminum cylinder heads and a 1.84 inch set of exhaust valves. Owing to these changes, the company advertised the vehicle with a warning that only racing fuel was to be used to drive it.
Additionally, this vehicle sports enhanced components outside of the engine as well, including a hydramatic transmission, power-assisted heavy duty brakes and suspension and more. All told, these extra components effectively doubled the cost of the standard Corvette available at the time for the L88 model.
Rareness of the Vehicle
In order to qualify for many of the most popular races at the time, Corvette had to officially market the vehicle to the general public. However, seeing this car as a racing vehicle first and foremost, and as a danger to the general public due to the extensive power and top speed, the company did as much as possible to hide the L88 from the public. It manufactured only 20 of these vehicles in the 1967 year, and production increased only somewhat in the subsequent two years. The vehicle was marketed in a slightly downgraded version called the L71, available for a much lower cost; many experts agree that Corvette purposefully increased the price of the L88 in order to discourage potential buyers. Overall, there are a total of fewer than 200 L88 vehicles that were ever built, though the vehicle was available in both coupe and convertible forms. Of these, the rarest (and most expensive) are the 20 that were manufactured in 1967.
Because the vehicle did not meet strict emissions standards, production was permanently ceased in 1969. Owing to the small number of these vehicles in existence, as well as the short run of the vehicle line, these cars are among the most highly valued Corvettes today. For example, the 1969 L88 pictured above is expected to fetch more than a few pretty pennies when it goes on the RM auction block in Monterey this August.
Photos courtesy of RM Auctions/.