Rat Pack Muscle Cars

L88 ULTIMATE RAT
1969 L88 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

 

OWNER: WAYNE

SPECIFICATIONS

1969 L88 Engine Specifications
SAE Gross Horsepower (advertised): 430 hp @ 5,200 rpm
SAE Net Torque (advertised): 460 ft. lbs @ 4,000 rpm
SAE Gross Horsepower (actual): Approx. 550 - 570 hp @ 6,200 - 6,400 rpm
SAE Net Torque (actual): Approx. 470 ft. lbs @ 5,200 rpm
Displacement: 427 CID, 6997 cc
Bore and Stroke: 4.251 in. x 3.760 in. (108.0 x 95.2 mm)
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
There were only 20 L88s built in the 1967 model run. The number increased to 80 for 1968 and 116 L88s built in its peak and final year of production in 1969.

 

 

Info

This L88 was never raced
16,635 original mile's as shown on its Speedo
Documents
I have the original bill of sale and finance contract to the first owner
Ownership transfers & titles b/n the first three owners
Corvette Order Copy (commonly referred to as the tank sticker)
Car Shipper Copy, what I believe is called the Moroney Report (which looks like a carbon copy of the Car Shipper Copy)
Photo album containing many happy snaps of the first and third owners with the car, photo's of the engine rebuild by the third owner completed circa 1989,
NCRS Top Flight Certificates when it was judged by the third owner back in 1989 & 1990,
Bloomington Gold "Silver" Certificate when it was judged in 1990...it didn't make the "Gold Award" due to the poor engine re-stamping when the engine was rebuilt in 1989, and many other pics including one showing the remains of the original tank sticker on its fuel tank.

 

 

Unfortunately I don't have my L88's original Protect-O-Plate that would complete the documentation set for this L88.
I have tried to communicate with its first owner, but for his own reasons he refuses to liase with me. I have spoken & emailed the third owner many times, and that's how I got the NCRS and Bloomington Gold Certificates for this L88.

My L88 was sold via Proteam Corvette in Napolean Ohio back in 1990-91, and I now have a copy of the advertisement, courtesy of Terry Michaelis.

Unfortunately, due to strict privacy provisions in the USA I have been thwarted in "filling-in-the-gaps" of the ownership of my L88. For instance, like the first US owner, its two Canadian owners will not allow their details to be provided to me. I don't want to contact them, just record their details for future custodians of this L88.

This L88 was repainted by its first owner in 1986 just prior to him selling it (not a body off restoration). This car has suffered the usual vagries of BB corvettes, meaning it has small fractures in the front clip behind the headlights, the window rubbers are hard, etc.

Although only a low mileage car, the drivers seat has two rips in it, one where your right butt cheek meets the seat upon entry (my L88 doesn't have the telescoping steering wheel option unfortunately), and the second on the lower section of the seat back. I have left these "as is" because it's the cars original trim. It still has all its original factory chalk markings on the chassis.

Has factory side pipes (an option I simply had to have).

 

 

MY STORY

My L88 story goes back to circa 2001/02.

I found an internet website about a guy from Arizona who owned many nice corvettes inc. 65 roadster, 78 pace car, 93 40th Anniversary ZR1 (same as mine....that's why I emailed him) and a LeMans Blue/black 69 L88 Coupe.

We exchanged numerous emails over time and in June 2003 he offered to sell me his 33000 mile LeMans Blue 69 L88.It was one of the 16 or so with the very rare M40 automatic transmissions. IMHO that blue is the prettiest colour, and with the factory fitted side pipes, it's one of the sexiest corvettes I'd ever seen.

Usual problem, I simply couldn't afford to buy it. The business I am involved with had endured extremely difficult financial times, and having just gone into debt up to my limit in March 2003, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't gather up the cash required. His asking price at the time was indeed more than reasonable, and is a gift when compared to today's prices.

During this time I also met other guys who were in the L88 scene in the USA via the internet. One owned a 69 Fathom Green/Blk L88, that he had restored and was having flight judged via NCRS. His L88 would go on to receive the "Duntov Marque of Excellence Award" and was also inducted into the "NCRS Hall of Fame". This guy was a commercial airline pilot, and was very helpful to me in my L88 quest.

In Feb/Mar'04 I mentioned I was interested in buying a 1969 L88, and would he assist me. He put me in contact with an NCRS judge (a Mr.Chuck Berge...I'm not usually a name dropper) who was reputed to be one of the most knowledgeable on 69 L88's in the US to represent me.

I wanted to have as many options as possible and had heard about that 69 Cortez Silver L88 here in Oz from friends in the local corvette scene.

I tracked down the owner and called him circa Feb/Mar 04 and asked him to sell me his 69 L88. His initial reply was that "it was not for sale, and that ironically another guy from Sydney had recently called him asking the same question".

I hadn't mentioned money to the owner, and brazenly asked how much the guy in Sydney had offered him for his 69 L88. When the owner told me the amount, well let's just say it was way more than I had anticipated.

The owner said he was coming to the 2004 annual Australian Corvette Convention in Melbourne and we agreed to meet there.

I met with the L88's owner as planned. He answered my every question about his 69 L88, and about his L88 ownership experience. I couldn't muster the courage to ask him again to sell me his L88, because I couldn't afford the price offered by the Sydney guy; and I wouldn't embarrass myself or insult him with a lowball offer.

My 81 Corvette I took to the convention sold in May'04. I now had room in my small garage for an L88...things were finally falling into place.

Later that month I received a call from the Silver L88's owner advising me I could buy his L88. I couldn't then afford his asking price and had to respectfully decline his generous offer, as much as that hurt me to do.

During Feb, Mar, April & May the US NCRS judge emailed me details of a few 69 L88's for sale. By the time we got to say "yay" or "nay", they were all sold. These 69 L88's are very highly sought after cars in the USA. I was starting to wonder whether I would get one.

I received an email for a red/blk/white 69 L88 roadster with colour matching hard top. It was an "older restoration" having been restored by the famed Nabours Bros. back in 1988. It had scored "Gold" at Bloomington Gold in 1988.

The US NCRS judge inspected the L88 in Canada for me.

This L88 did not have its original L88 engine block(which was an issue for me). The OEM L88 was grenaded with only about 1000 miles on it by the first owner. Luckily for the owner, he was able to get a correct date coded block for his L88. The re-stamped engine pad was professionally done and passed inspection by the NCRS. The reason this L88 was for sale was simply that its owner collected Mopars and Hemi Cudas, and apparently b/n him and his father had one of the best Mopar/Hemi collections. I was told back then by the NCRS judge that a rare Hemi Cuda convertible would bring $2 Million US.....that's some serious cash indeed.

This red L88 roadster had part of its original tank sticker. They couldn't remove it intact from the tank, so they cut the OEM gas tank up to retrieve it, and put another gas tank in it.

This 69 L88 had also had many well known corvette collector owners' throughout its life. Ironically, one of those corvette collectors a guy named Dr Donald Amerson, had also owned the Green 69 L88 I eventually bought.

I was procrastinating about the purchase of this red L88. My corvette friends were keen for me to buy this L88 roadster, as it would be quite a contrast to the silver coupe already in Oz.

I was troubled by the non-OEM engine issue with this 69 L88 (being annally retentive and all), and I really wanted the N14 option of the factory fitted side pipes. Although less than 10% of all 69 corvettes have this option, if I were to have a 69 L88, I wanted one with the factory side pipes....which further limited my selection from the 116 L88's produced by GM. No-one knows for certain how many 69 L88's have the N14 option, some say as few as 12 in total.

It seemed I would go L88-less until late May 04 I received an email from the guy in Arizona (who owned the 69 LeMans Blue L88) asking me if I was still in the market for a 69 L88?

There was a Green 69 L88 for sale by a dealer in Toronto, Canada (Legendary Motorcar Company), was I interested???

I rang the US NCRS judge and enquired about this car. It turns out, that after inspecting the red roadster for me in Toronto, he had a few hours to kill before his flight home departed, so he called by to inspect this 69 L88. He said to me it was the "real-deal" and although needed restoring, had the most comprehensive documentation set he had ever seen for a 69 L88.....PLUS, it had the much desired N14 option, the factory fitted side pipes I lusted after.

The decision was made then and there that if this L88 was available, I would buy it.

Because Canada was approx 14 hours behind Oz in time, I had to wait until 10.30 P.M. that night our time before I could telephone the dealer (LMC).

I made the call and the dealership didn't believe me at first when I told them I was calling from Australia. I was put through to the salesman handling this car and was advised by the salesman (a guy named David Griffiths, who turned out to be a stand-up guy throughout the entire process) that a potential buyer had already placed a refundable deposit of $10,000US down for the car and was flying in that afternoon to inspect the car.

I don't need to tell you how I felt upon hearing that news. Never the less, I enquired whether there were any other interested persons in this car. David replied he'd love $1 dollar for every phone call he was getting on this car.

I asked David whether anybody had asked to be put in the queue, if this sale fell through....he said no!

I asked him whether he would be prepared to give me the second right of refusal for this 69 L88, if for what ever reason the sale fell through....he agreed.

However, the first owner, having paid a substantial deposit for this 69 L88 was awaiting a property settlement to provide the balance of the purchase price. David agreed to give him two weeks, which is what the first purchaser demanded. David advised me if the first purchaser fails to finalise the deal in the next 14 days as agreed, then his deposit would be refunded in full, and I would be offered the car.

Waiting that 14 days was like an eternity. I couldn't stop myself thinking about this car. I found myself becoming irritable, had difficulty sleeping; endless thoughts of this car were starting to take over my life...damn...I never expected this.

Anyway, the 14 days were up, and I made the call to LMC 10.30 P.M. on the designated evening. I was eventually put through to David Griffiths, expecting the worst I asked "is it for sale?" David replied, "Yes...would you like to buy it?" I could hardly believe my ears; I asked him "what happened?"

David explained there were unexpected issues with the first purchasers' property settlement and he requested an extension of the time to raise the necessary funds to finalise the deal with LMC. David explained to the first purchaser their contract stipulated that settlement would be finalised within 14 days, after which; the initial deposit would be refunded and the deal terminated with the first purchaser.

Long story short (if that's not an oxymoron), I bought that 69 L88 from LMC in June 04. There were a few tears of joy shed after that phone call, I don't mind admitting.

I had the L88's documents Fed-Ex'd immediately, and the car was shipped to LA for its journey across the pond to Australia. It arrived in Australia in Oct'04 and I had Peter Whiston at Corvette Clinic in Melbourne (that's where the under car pics originated from. thanks to Peter) give it a once over before flat-bedding it to its new home.

The options are all listed on the Corvette Order Copy.
For the uninitiated (no offence intended here guys) who are unsure, the "2L88 Special Turbo Jet 427" is the key option, hence the reference to the code "L88".

My L88 has a 4.11:1 rear gear set. Despite what magazine articles have written about L88's being cantankerous and difficult to start and drive, my L88 starts up real easy. The sound of that BB lumping over is music to one's ears indeed. Talk about free rev, with its 6500 red line that 427 revs like nothing I've ever owned. Geez, I thought my 93 ZR1 was a screamer, its nothing compared to the 427 L88.

A downside (is there one, you might wonder!) is the L88 requires very high octane leaded fuel (103 Minimum as stated on the warning label attached to the centre console) ie Av-Gas. Early 69 L88's like mine have a 12.5:1 combustion ratio, which changed around May/Jun'69 to 12.0:1.

Also, the VIN only appears on the Car Shipper Copy and the Moroney report. It doesn't appear on the Corvette Order Copy (Build Sheet or Tank Sticker).

If you look closely at the top of all three documents you will notice the alpha-numeric code "AYL-135". This code links all three documents in this set.

You will also notice the "69" written in pen by an assembly line worker on the Corvette Order Copy. Those are the last two digits of its VIN.

I'm still very keen to complete the gaps in my L88's ownership history, so that when I pass it on to its next custodian. That will be one less task to be completed. As you all know, as time passes by; so do we.

 

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