Published January 18, 2013
The sixtieth anniversary of the Corvette started off in the best possible way with the introduction of the all-new seventh generation of the iconic American sports car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last Monday.
Corvettes seem to be on every collectors’ brain at the classic car auctions taking place this weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, with some of the best and most expensive examples of classic Corvettes on the planet being offered for sale.
Here are four of our favorites:
1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 race car (Barrett-Jackson) The L88 is one very special Corvette. L88 was the option number for a very special high performance engine meant for racing. It was a tremendously expensive option (almost $1000 at a time when a Corvette cost around $5,000) and it wasn't meant for ordinary civilians. Serious racers who were in the know ordered it in very small numbers to have the most competitive Corvette possible. This one is billed by Barrett-Jackson as the most victorious Corvette racer ever. A class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona and several Sports Car Club of America championships were some of the highlights. It’s expected to bring well in excess of a million dollars.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 roadster (Gooding & Company) As mentioned above, the notorious L88 engine option wasn’t meant for ordinary Corvette drivers. With aluminum cylinder heads, big valves and a huge carburetor, it put out in the range of 560 horsepower. To discourage non-racers from ordering, GM underrated that number in the option list to “just” 430 horsepower or five less than the regular street big-block 427 and didn’t offer the car with things like a heater or a radio. A few non-racer buyers saw through it all and ordered the L88 in order to have a true weapons-grade stop-light drag racer. This car was one that never raced (at least on a track) and it’s a very rare convertible model. It could bring up to $750,000
1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427/435 coupe (Gooding & Company) If you didn’t have the money for the L88 engine and you wanted the most powerful Corvette meant for ordinary street duty, this is what you ordered—the big-block 427 cubic inch engine with 435 horsepower. Some Corvette fans will argue that the smaller engine cars are nicer to drive and handle better. Big block owners call that sour grapes. This beautiful silver Sting Ray is expected to bring up to $150,000 or the equivalent of two brand new 2014 Corvettes.
1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 coupe (RM Auctions) The 60th anniversary has brought the rare L88s out of the woodwork. This is another car without a race history, but a rather bizarre street history—It was originally bought by a father for his son’s college graduation. Amazingly, in spite of being essentially a race car and the property of a very young driver, no serious harm ever came to the car and it still has its original numbers matching engine, something the Corvette collectors demand. A bit less desirable than the convertible L88, this one is expected to break a half million dollars.