When comparing the upper echelon of investment-quality collector cars, several aspects separate great cars from the rest: rarity, pedigree, provenance, racing history, originality and authenticity. This 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible exceeds expectations in every category and can be suitably referred to as “The Ultimate L88.” In fact, according to Bloomington Gold Founder David Burroughs, “Not one minute of ownership, one piece of paper or one alteration is unaccounted for.”
Just 216 L88 Corvettes were produced over three years from 1967-69, yet only 20 L88s were built in the first year offered, placing the 1967 L88 Corvette at the pinnacle of desirability for all Corvettes.
This 1967 L88 Corvette, Serial No. 21550, has an unquestionable pedigree as the best-documented example of its kind in the world. Documented with the original tank sticker, window sticker, order form, shipper copy, dealer invoice, factory inspection form, factory ID card, vintage photos, complete ownership history and a remarkable racing career, there is no other 1967 L88 Corvette with equally extensive or impressive documentation. This car is also the only 1967 L88 Corvette to retain its complete original engine, consisting of the original engine block, heads, crankshaft, rods, pistons, lifters and valve train.
This car stands as the most successful L88 Corvette race car of all time during its eight-year racing career with its original owner. At the Daytona 24 Hour Endurance race of 1970, Cliff Gottlob’s privateer racing team stunned the field by finishing second in GT Class and 11th overall. Furthermore, L88 21550 was piloted to nearly 300 podium finishes, including more than 150 outright wins, and during that time, it took home a record-setting 52 consecutive victories.
This car’s provenance begins with the original owner, Cliff Gottlob of Arkansas City, Kansas, who worked full time as an engineer and operated a self-sponsored and underfunded privateer racing team on the weekends. Gottlob graduated from high school at age 15, earned five engineering degrees from Heidelberg University and was the youngest student to attend the Carter Carburetor School in St. Louis, Missouri. While in St. Louis, Gottlob had the opportunity to tour the Corvette assembly plant and subsequently “got hooked” on Corvettes. He developed a knack for synchronizing the complex triple side-draft carburetor setups on early Corvettes, and when the good word spread about his mechanical prowess, Gottlob had plenty of Corvettes to work on. In the 1960s, Gottlob went on to set world records during his drag-racing career, and his early success in quarter-mile racing garnered the attention of Chevrolet’s inner circle of executives, engineers and developmental specialists.
By the mid-1960s, Gottlob was dead-set on road racing and needed a car. On June 5, 1967, his close friend and Chevrolet executive Ralph Miller arranged a discounted price on 1967 Corvette L88 convertible, and the order was executed with plans for delivery to be taken at the Corvette factory. On July 3, Chevrolet called and said his car was ready, but Gottlob had a full docket of drag-racing contract work and needed to earn the money to pay for the L88, so he pushed back taking delivery of the car. In August, Chevrolet called again. Furious that a 1967 Corvette was sitting among a parking lot of new third-generation models, Gottlob’s L88 was preventing accountants from clearing the books on the previous year’s car and was notably the last midyear Corvette to leave the factory.
Provenance continues with its documented complete ownership chain of Corvette aficionados who have carefully preserved this iconic racer. The collectively exhaustive list of owners includes Cliff Gottlob (1967-1978), Jim Krughoff and David Burroughs (1978-1997), Bill McDonagh (1997-2013) and Dana Mecum (2013-Present). In 2013, this L88 Daytona Racer was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall as one of the 50 most significant Corvettes of all time. Later in 2013, this car joined a special group as one of very few Corvettes ever invited to grace the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Due to the original owner’s fastidious preservation of the car and its original components, this is one of the most authentic and well-preserved examples of a 1967 L88 Corvette. The original owner saved most of the original components that were removed for competition and were included with the car in its 1978 sale to Krughoff and Burroughs. After years of research, Burroughs began a historically correct rehabilitation to its 1970 Daytona as-raced configuration with special attention paid to match the “look” of its racing days from 1967-1975. Many of the original components remain unrestored to this day while other parts were restored or replaced as needed to remain in synch with the original unrestored components that were on the car during its legendary Daytona run. Even the minor cosmetic imperfections suffered during competition were precisely documented and reapplied to pay homage to its illustrious racing career. Furthermore, A freshly rebuilt, period correct L88 engine is included in the sale if the new owner chooses to preserve the original engine.
Most impressive of all is the amazing journey of Gottlob’s unsponsored blue-collar privateer racing team driving this 1967 L88 Corvette 1,636 miles from Kansas to Daytona to compete against the best in the world in America’s grandest endurance race with an amateur pit crew of family and friends. After the race, they packed up and drove the L88 race car back to Kansas.
Daytona 24 Hour Corvette race-car driver Tony DeLorenzo stated it best: “It’s a helluva story,” and we invite you to read this car’s larger-than-life legend as documented in the book “Against All Odds.”
Corvettes with this much prestige don’t come around often, so be sure to check out Mecum’s Indy Auction, July 10th to 18th at the Indiana State Fairgrounds–
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About Mecum Auctions – Nobody sells more than Mecum. Nobody. The Mecum Auction Company is the world leader of collector car, vintage and antique motorcycle, and Road Art sales, hosting auctions throughout the United States. The company has been specializing in the sale of collector cars for more than 30 years, now offering more than 20,000 lots per year and averaging more than one auction each month.