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'67 - '69 L-88 Corvette Racers "Bringing Back Racing Respect" Illustrated Series No. 131

'67 - '69 L-88 Corvette Racers "Bringing Back Racing Respect" Illustrated Series No. 131

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Here's the story on this print:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 131 - '67 - '69 L-88 Racers
"Bringing Back Racing Respect"

Every Corvette owner had a best friend in Zora Arkus-Duntov, Chief of Engineering for the Vette from ‘56 to ’75. Duntov created a foundation of uncompromising performance for the GM’s flagship sports car. Were it not for his personal racing experience and his never-ending push for improvement, GM surely would have axed the car early on. Even better, Duntov always made sure racers had plenty of hot parts for their Corvettes.

The ‘63 Sting Ray should have put the Corvette ahead of the competition, but with the advent of the Shelby Cobra and the death of the Grand Sport, the Vette remained outgunned until the arrival of the big-block in ’65. It took two years for Duntov to sort out the details, but his latest Corvette stealth bomber—the ‘67 L88—was worth the wait.

While an L88 Corvette was some 900 pounds heavier than a ‘63 Grand Sport, Duntov nevertheless took the car as far as he could for a production vehicle. Make no mistake: The L88 Vettes were one tick away from being all-out race cars. As everyday drivers, they were all but unusable, just the way Duntov wanted it. Here’s why.

By the mid-’60s the Detroit horsepower wars were in full swing. Hot-rodders and wannabe racers were buying anything with big power numbers. While the solid-lifter, big-block Chevys were beasts for the street, the L88 was designed for one thing: racing. Not only was the L-88 stealthy in appearance, it looked like a second-rate performer on the order sheet. Most obvious was the power rating of 430 horsepower—five less than the 427/435 L71. And creature comforts? Fuggetaboutit! The L88 had a special “delete option” that removed items such as the heater, the radio, the A/C, and the radiator shroud. The engine had aluminum heads, a radical cam, a huge four-barrel carb, 12:1 compression, a 103-octane fuel requirement, and a 2,000-rpm idle. With open headers and a sharp tune, an L88 could generate over 600 hp.

Duntov made sure that the car’s underpinnings were also race-ready. The F41 suspension included stiffer shocks and springs, front and rear anti-sway bars, and racing brakes. Fender flares to cover racing tires were included in the trunk. The engine option alone cost $947, and when the other mandatory options were added, buyers were looking at least a 50 percent increase over the car’s base price, making the L88 package the most expensive Corvette to date. In keeping with the package’s low-profile nature, no special badges were added. During the three years the option was offered—’67 through ’69—only 216 L88s were ordered.

The L-88 delivered the goods on the track. The ‘67 Sunray DX and the ’68 Garner A.I.R. Corvettes were good examples of what these cars could do when treated to some well-executed race-prep work. Sunray Oil Company sponsored a pre-production ‘67 L88 Corvette with the help of Don Yenko. Three weeks after Yenko took delivery, the car was on the starting grid for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Driven by Yenko and Dave Morgan, the Sunray Vette smashed the GT class track record, won First in class, and Tenth overall. At the ‘68 24 Hours at Daytona race, the car ran 194 mph on the high-banked track, thanks to some special 2.60:1 gearing from Chevrolet.

The James Garner American International Racing team (A.I.R.) took delivery of three ’68 L88 Corvettes that were then driven from St. Louis to Culver City, California. With help from Dick Guldstrand, two of the cars were prepared for the 24 Hours at Daytona. Car No. 44 finished the race but was sold soon afterward when the team switched to Lola T70 Mk II coupes. Many years and many racers later, the car was completely restored. It occasionally runs at historic races.

The most aggressive and successful of the L88 Corvettes was the Owen-Corning Fiberglass car of Tony DeLorenzo and Jerry Thompson. Although not a numbers-matching L88 car, this all-out A/Production racer racked up 22 straight class wins, qualified on the pole at most of its races, and won two national championships. At the end of ’71, OCF decided that they had gotten enough out of racing and pulled the sponsorship.

Duntov envisioned a much lighter car, but the L88 package proved that with 600-plus hp and suspension parts to back it up, the Corvette once again had a fighting chance on the race track.

Printed on high quality tan-colored parchment paper using a Xante professional grade printer.

This print comes in one size:

11” x 17”

Print is shrink wrapped on 11.5" x 17.5" cardboard so that they stay flat and clean and shipped via USPS Priority Mail. All prints are signed by the artist. They make a wonderful gift for the car lover in your life!
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