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The First L-88

Old 07-27-2016, 06:10 PM
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gbvette62
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Default The First L-88

I received this as an email from The Registry of Corvette Race Cars today. It's a nice little piece about the first L-88, Roger Penske who was the first owner of it, and Kevin McKay who owns it now and restored it at his Valley Stream NY shop, Corvette Repair Inc.

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact....f-96248312aa24

For those not familiar with the Registry, it is a sight dedicated to documenting and preserving the history of as many Corvette race cars as possible. I've been involved with it a little bit, by providing old photos and the history of a couple cars that I was associated with.

http://registryofcorvetteracecars.com/


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Old 07-27-2016, 06:28 PM
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Its always a thrill to see that car when Kevin brings it shows. its such a important piece of Corvette history that I'm glad it just doesn't sit in someone private collection never to see the light of day
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:54 PM
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I never understood why the car was not restored to its' original livery colors. Seems that would have been more "historic".
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mikelj View Post
I never understood why the car was not restored to its' original livery colors. Seems that would have been more "historic".
The appropriate damage would have had to be replicated to make it red after Dick Wrecked the front end! It only becoming a race winner in its red configuration being in wrecked condition! The car was passed to him with the warning that the steering was knocked slightly out of alignment some, but love Dick, he put his foot into the gas anyways and crashed it, but it still won the class even chasing Prototype Ferrari's during the dark hours with flashlights taped to the frontThe blue is historic, it won Sebring that day in its class!

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Old 07-28-2016, 12:40 AM
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I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how correct the race cars that Corvette Repair restores are but they are interesting and his shop does a quality job. As stated above it's great that he displays them so we can actually get to see them.
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:26 AM
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Glen, A friend had sent me that in an e-mail a couple of days ago. Nice story of a great car. The first time I saw that car was when Kevin was unloading it from a large TT unit at Carlisle many years ago. What a sound
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:30 AM
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The Registry is great, and Jim G. is super dedicated to keeping it up.
He has a very infectious enthusiasm.

Carter
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 71scgc View Post
The Registry is great, and Jim G. is super dedicated to keeping it up.
He has a very infectious enthusiasm.

Carter
"First L-88" is a misnomer, but it was L-88 development car.

A L-72 was installed on the production line along with C-48 and all the "heavy duty" options that had been recently released. Guldstrand picked up the car at St. Louis in January and drove it to Penske's Pennsylvania shop for race preparation, which included a prototype cold air induction hood that was provided by Chevrolet.

According to a contemporaneous Corvette News article, the car practiced with the "stock" engine. Then for qualifying and the race a special Traco-built engine was installed. That engine had all the prototype L-88 parts that were supplied to Traco by Chevrolet.

Since the L-88 was a racing engine, the only way to test it was in a real racing environment. But Chevrolet Engineering was barred by corporate edict from direct participation in racing. So they contracted with Penske, who was a franchised Chevrolet dealer to do the development work, and Traco was Penske's engine builder of choice.

The first production L-88 was not built at St. Louis until well into the '67 model year after the L-88 option was released.

As with any dedicated race car it is tough to tell what is original, since they are constantly being changed, and restoring this car back to it's original St. Louis-built configuration would lose all the racing modifications and heritage, so most will restore such a car to a specific configuration at some point in time, and this car is restored to its Sebring '66 configuration.

Duke

Last edited by SWCDuke; 07-28-2016 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:59 AM
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The decision to restore a car is monumental. It's an especially huge decision if the car is considered a significant historical object. Here's a section of my column that's coming out shortly.

The owner of a historical object has three choices. The object (in this case a car) can be preserved, conserved or restored.

"A restoration is an intervention that permanently changes the car. It’s an attempt to return the car to some previous state. In some cases this may be a state that never actually existed. A lot of racecars have been restored this way."

There are two rather different approaches to historically significant cars. Miles Collier and Fred Simeone take the preservationist's approach. Kevin Mckay and Ralph Lauren take restoration approach.

The most dramatic example of the difference would be to look at Dr. Simeon's Daytona Coupe and Kevin's Corvette. The difference is dramatic.





There is nothing new about this discussion. It goes on in the furniture and art world all the time. There will never be a correct answer.

Richard Newton
Historical Racing Images
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:08 PM
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More of a plug, for Corvette Repair, IMO....
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Old 07-28-2016, 01:33 PM
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Everyone's correct so far. This Penske car is really cool!

Steve

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Old 07-28-2016, 03:33 PM
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I think it looks great in those classic Team Penske colors!
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SWCDuke View Post
"First L-88" is a misnomer, but it was L-88 development car.

A L-72 was installed on the production line along with C-48 and all the "heavy duty" options that had been recently released. Guldstrand picked up the car at St. Louis in January and drove it to Penske's Pennsylvania shop for race preparation, which included a prototype cold air induction hood that was provided by Chevrolet.

According to a contemporaneous Corvette News article, the car practiced with the "stock" engine. Then for qualifying and the race a special Traco-built engine was installed. That engine had all the prototype L-88 parts that were supplied to Traco by Chevrolet.

Since the L-88 was a racing engine, the only way to test it was in a real racing environment. But Chevrolet Engineering was barred by corporate edict from direct participation in racing. So they contracted with Penske, who was a franchised Chevrolet dealer to do the development work, and Traco was Penske's engine builder of choice.

The first production L-88 was not built at St. Louis until well into the '67 model year after the L-88 option was released.

As with any dedicated race car it is tough to tell what is original, since they are constantly being changed, and restoring this car back to it's original St. Louis-built configuration would lose all the racing modifications and heritage, so most will restore such a car to a specific configuration at some point in time, and this car is restored to its Sebring '66 configuration.

Duke
Hey, I know you are one member who appreciates these types of histories, you contributing a lot of great research on such things which I have enjoyed and appreciated!

We have since ran with these types of topics, hoping for your participation, hoping you were following along!

It is thought two engines were sent down and one went into the car and the other shipped off to Traco! The only thing that might possibly make the claim of just an install of an L-72 with fancy hood and air cleaner only, is that the Traco received unit was loosely assembled, just held together for shipping with no final torques or being ready to run! I don't think that either one was just an L-72!! They were successfully building and supplying special Heavy Duty or Competition 427's, so the long block was one of these basically with these two engines getting the new prototype aluminum heads!
Therefore if the second engine believed to have gone in the car was one of these L88 prototype builds, it had to be assembled prior to insertion into a chosen car with engineers at the line walking it through!
It does make sense that Chevrolet did make the installed engine as a running unit, the Penske deal is known by having the car picked up, as a break in run! As Traco was assembling and Dyno running!
So I firmly believe the Chevroket guys wanted a direct engine comparison between their assembled power plant and where Traco thought to take their engine based on what they do! I do know Traco made recommendations for changes which the Chevrolet guys declined! Traco spotted weaknesses to like the wrist pins, but Chevrolet was interested in production development, which included curiosity on durability, etc.!
So they baselined the performance at Daytona for practice with the factory line under engineering supervision installed unit and then swapped in the Traco unit for qualification! Problems with the aluminum heads became apparent I believe in both engines, so for the race the Traco standard prep heads where changed on the Traco unit mill only, but spare set was also shipped and were pre race spares!
These two engines were the basic Super Duty special parts having engines, but basically the first with the aluminum heads and that was the L88 designation! No aluminum heads, no L88! But it got to keep the L88 title based on the long block being delivered with the alum units!
So the Chevrolet guys checked these engines after that weekend, and Penske got to hang onto them!
Subsequently for Sebring the proven race engine (Traco unit was sent back for checking and prep for the next race and came back and went specifically into that car! Taboo for luck not good to musical chair the engines! Race guys generally know that one engine won, so that engine goes right back into the winning car!!! The other engine for the first time now went to Traco, and went specific into the Penske team Grand Sport, but the heads still were a problem, so that got the second set of Traco heads! There is a claim that the GT racer tried the aluminum heads again, but I don't think that was accurate! The Grand Sport became the test bed for trying the aluminum heads, but those also quickly were changed for the race!

As for Corvette Race Registry I am sure many are good guys but they are a club evolving around mostly investors and their elitist images, and then I did have some interactions with some true enthusiasts!

The insiders can contribute and build chains and stories many of them crap claims! The contributions accepted come from the claimed enthusiasts and If you are accepted by the club, then others will support your bull! I found that literature and documented information and race records are sparse, some have some and most don't! I found that when the Gods of the Registry speak, you are supposed to bow down! To be accepted you are supposed to let the so called experts tear apart your car or they have to endorse or approve you for participation (new guy contributions kind of frowned on), and I do not need some Registry clown who has been around Corvettes for about 20 years less than me!!!! wanting me to pay them a commission for their verification that a car is a race car!! But if you bought or hired for commission a car through their club, then you can get it listed up as whatever you want to claim!
I even tried to add contributions to the 5 link history and posting up those adds or information for review and that was first saw as an attack on the one guy who writes the articles! When he has hardly nothing on the Riley unit timeline or the Greenwood prototype pieces that I became aware of by a very notable enthusiast member (NorCal guy) who was involved with the AIR Garner cars that passed away, so I posting up pictures of those missing link units for them and to wake them up! Basically Greenwood prototyped up units based on production parts configurations, as a potential cheaper alternative for his product line and to meet the SCCA/FIA rules having those on his work bench prior to the CVC Apex guys and way before Riley's self branded units sold through Guldstrand! The a-arm units were good for IMSA and later Trans Am! And Greenwood later getting labor taken care of by CVC Apex of his design of origin from his Riley years related to his a-arm setup, the napkin drawings for the trailing arm units probably deriving from sitting with Riley with thoughts of the next generation following the A-arm design! So it went from another hand fabricated unit to Ryding and the CVC Apex evolving from that to modification of actual Corvette trailing arms to cut costs! Then Greenwood later sold those taking over the rights to those guys variations of his original design! Riley evolving his third multi link Corvette suspension design! The first Greenwood a-arm design, the second prototype uprights based on stock trailing arm dimensions, the third being the uprights that were fabricated, that evolved into the Guldstrand units! Going back to street cars, the first two Greenwood units thru Mancuso were Greenwood mocked up uprights (non a-arm type), then Mancuso commissioned the evolution of the Greenwood units by Ryding CVC-Apex for the balance after some development of it the design on the track! During this time Chevrolet engineering and Duntov were running around the proving grounds with this stuff and the bat mobile wide flares! As to why a Chevrolet engineer was designing with CVC Apex in the first place using Greenwood patterned prototype parts! While Duntov was getting Greenwood flares GM parts numbers! This basically the last effort by Duntov to get Corvettes with factory support onto the tracks! John Greenwood was so busy with his track efforts, everyone was trying to throw in help! Aka Greenwood at LeMans in 1976 and with Chevrolet also assisting the appearance of the new GT Monza and guess why! Chevrolet's marketing the Country's Bicentennial Anniversary! The Stars and Stripes and the marching Patriots decals etc.! This is all tied to this product development and then Zora retired!

I first friended the group because of many suggesting that I share and contribute asking for nothing and quickly got attacked and warned by the moderators having actual literature from back in the day as my source material! I quickly unfriended them, deleting my contributions! Too many politics and easily upset members!

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Old 07-28-2016, 05:34 PM
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Years ago I had a chance to sit down with Denny Davis who did the L88. The very first L88 broke the mounting bolts on the dyno and ended up on the floor - broken.

The next day he reconfigured the dyno with much larger mounting bolts. And a new engine. He ran all of the prescribed engineering tests and removed the engine from the dyno and bolted it to pallet. He then watched it taken down the hallway - never to be seen again. It simply disappeared.

When his boss asked how the test were going things got mildly interesting. "Well - we broke the first one. And, we seem to have misplaced the second one."

One important point that Denny made was that the factory horsepower rating was totally accurate. As he pointed out he was not about to jeopardize his job and GM pension by lying. At that time GM had a bhp/weight ratio. No one could violate that ratio.

Knowing the weight of the Corvette he simply stopped the test when the engine hit 5200 rpm. The 430 bhp @ 5200 is totally accurate. It was also the magic ratio that GM required. He said that it probably made more horsepower above 5200 but that wasn't important

Richard Newton
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Old 07-28-2016, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rfn026 View Post
Years ago I had a chance to sit down with Denny Davis who did the L88. The very first L88 broke the mounting bolts on the dyno and ended up on the floor - broken.

The next day he reconfigured the dyno with much larger mounting bolts. And a new engine. He ran all of the prescribed engineering tests and removed the engine from the dyno and bolted it to pallet. He then watched it taken down the hallway - never to be seen again. It simply disappeared.

When his boss asked how the test were going things got mildly interesting. "Well - we broke the first one. And, we seem to have misplaced the second one."

One important point that Denny made was that the factory horsepower rating was totally accurate. As he pointed out he was not about to jeopardize his job and GM pension by lying. At that time GM had a bhp/weight ratio. No one could violate that ratio.

Knowing the weight of the Corvette he simply stopped the test when the engine hit 5200 rpm. The 430 bhp @ 5200 is totally accurate. It was also the magic ratio that GM required. He said that it probably made more horsepower above 5200 but that wasn't important

Richard Newton
Great add and I consider you to be one of the top knowledge guys and with good tastes, but the initial ones were still rated at 425hp based on plans for Homologation into racing (1966)! The 430hp rating actually was just a hair later when production aspirations became a reality to essentially camouflage it, listing it below the L-71 435hp! The initial L88 is listed up at 425hp!
But what you added here, the picking one of the two and assembling it and test running is the prelude to escorting it down to the factory line and install into the Penske bought car! Cool

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Old 07-28-2016, 06:06 PM
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Ps the broken one I believe was not one of the two sent down! That one ended up as a config display! This one I don't believe has ever been found! I think it was recycled at the time of the second generation L88, removed from its stand and being broke considered essential as old broke junk!

So after the engine stand incident, then they requested two more be sent down!

So we are talking about L88 #1, #2, and #3!

Number #3 was crated up without torque/without final assembly and they shipped it to Traco, #2 is the one that went initially into the Penske car!

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Old 07-28-2016, 08:02 PM
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My mistake on the bhp number. Sorry about that. I just did a real quick goggle on the number as I was remembering the story. Thanks for the correction.

btw - Denny was also the one who designed the 30/30 (or the Duntov cam if you prefer). It thought it was a horrible cam with no bottom end torque. But he said Zora loved it and there was no compromise with Zora.

Unless your name was Bill Mitchell. And that's a story for another day.

As to the #2 engine you mentioned I'm not sure what ever happened to it. A lot of things went on at GM that never got recorded. My family had a few of those cars and my friends in high school had cars that people today claim never existed. It was a different era.

Richard Newton

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Old 07-28-2016, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by rfn026 View Post
My mistake on the bhp number. Sorry about that. I just did a real quick goggle on the number as I was remembering the story. Thanks for the correction.

btw - Denny was also the one who designed the 30/30 (or the Duntov cam if you prefer). It thought it was a horrible cam with no bottom end torque. But he said Zora loved it and there was no compromise with Zora.

Unless your name was Bill Mitchell. And that's a story for another day.

Richard Newton
the LT1 cam has no low end either if used with SWC Duke's recommended lash settings.
Bill
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SWCDuke View Post
"First L-88" is a misnomer, but it was L-88 development car.

A L-72 was installed on the production line along with C-48 and all the "heavy duty" options that had been recently released.
Duke
Yup, that car did not leave the St Louis plant with an L88 engine in it.

I know a lot of folks want to believe it did though.
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Old 07-29-2016, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by rfn026 View Post
My mistake on the bhp number. Sorry about that. I just did a real quick goggle on the number as I was remembering the story. Thanks for the correction.

btw - Denny was also the one who designed the 30/30 (or the Duntov cam if you prefer). It thought it was a horrible cam with no bottom end torque. But he said Zora loved it and there was no compromise with Zora.

Unless your name was Bill Mitchell. And that's a story for another day.

As to the #2 engine you mentioned I'm not sure what ever happened to it. A lot of things went on at GM that never got recorded. My family had a few of those cars and my friends in high school had cars that people today claim never existed. It was a different era.

Richard Newton
.

Richard you are one of the most knowledgeable guys on this forum!!!!!! I think you are having an off day! Guys like you I pay attention to, and mutually learn from!

The 097 was the Duntov cam!

On those engines, I actually tried to get that answered from Penske! When the car was sold from the Penske team, that engine went with it, but that at a point was pulled for a 2nd generation engine! Somewhere in some publication I read about that engine letting go at I think an SCCA event!
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