Sailor's Corvette delight attracts millions

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

L88 Corvette LEAD L88 Corvette LEAD
L88 Corvette rear L88 Corvette rear
L88 Corvette engine L88 Corvette engine
L88 Corvette interior L88 Corvette interior

One of 20 L88s ever made. Bidding currently sits at AUD$2.93 million and still on going!

While current prices of American muscle cars are softish here, on home soil that doesn’t seem the case with a 1967 Chev Corvette L88 Coupe sitting with a bid of AUD $2.93 million as we closed for press.

Mind you, this is no ordinary Vette.

Offered for sale at Mecums Indy auction in early May the L88 Corvette is just one of 20 made in 1967.

L88-Corvette -rear

It is also commonly believed within the Corvette community to be the only Sunfire Yellow example built over the L88’s three-year production period.

Corvette aficionados universally agree on two things: one, the 1967 Corvette is the most sought-after in the model’s history and second, the race bred L88 introduced that year stands above all others as the most coveted engine to power America’s most-loved Sports Car.

With an output approaching 560hp and equipped throughout with racing components there’s no doubt the L88 was built for serious competition. Only 20 buyers took up the L88 option pack in its three years of production.

L88-Corvette -engine

One was Robert E. (Bob) Baker, a young Navy sailor in his teens. Although he had a calm demeanor, he also had a competitive streak, trading in his 1966 Vette and purchasing the exceptionally rare 1967 L88 coupe from S&K Chevrolet on June 5, 1967.

It started life as Baker’s daily driver, but he soon started drag racing it where it was a consistent front runner in Top Stock. Baker retired from racing and put the L88 in a shed for 15 years. After marrying, he bought another Sunfire Yellow 427 Corvette and began racing again.

In 1986 Steve Hendrickson of Long Lake, Minnesota, acquired the L88 and commenced a nuts and bolts restoration that took a decade to complete. The chassis, L88 engine, M22 transmission, power brakes and master cylinder, suspension and trim were all retained with the other components being restored originals or new old stock.

L88-Corvette -interior

Hendrickson submitted the restored Vette for judging in 1997, where it was awarded Bloomington Gold Certification. In 1999, Hendrickson sold the car to California collector Lawrence Bowman, who has owned it since and after 21 years put the L88 up for auction.

The completed L88 is in show-quality condition and one of very few 1967 L88 Corvettes to retain its original engine block. Considered the pinnacle of exceptional and historically significant Corvettes, the provenance of this one is cemented with the original new car sales contract, original title and photos of the car and Bob Baker, its original owner.

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