In general, drag racing cars tend to have a short life; they're frequently broken, crashed or rebuilt with odd parts, and generally rode hard and put away wet. Finding one in good condition can rank as a collector's good luck, but the owners of this 1967 Chevy Corvette did far better at the Mecum auction on Saturday, selling this Vette for $3.2 million — a new auction record for any Corvette.
Corvettes typically don't sell for millions of dollars, mainly because General Motors built so many of them over the years and because most owners cared little about swapping engines or other key parts. The car above breaks that mold thanks to a secret code: L-88. Designed by famed Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov as a race package, the L-88 featured a tuned version of the 427 big block V-8 good for far more than the 435 hp listed by the factory. Under various racing rules, Chevy had to sell a few copies to the public — but discouraged dealers from advertising it and let its existence be known only to a select few shoppers.
This car, one of only 20 L-88s built in the 1967 model year, was bought in Portland, Ore., and almost immediately taken to the drag strip, where it soon dominated West Coast NHRA racing for several years. The former owners bought the car in 1996, and found it still had the original engine, exhausts and extensive paperwork from its racing days; they later launched a full restoration, including the commission of a custom paint color to match the one it left the factory with.
The $3.2 million hammer price from Mecum doubles the previous record of $1.6 million for a Corvette at auction, set by Barrett-Jackson in 2008 with the Pininfarina-built, one-off "Rondine" coupe. Most Corvettes will never approach a tenth of the value of this L-88, but there are a few even more rare editions in existence. Thanks to the rising value of high-end collector cars, we may not have to wait another five years for this Vette record to be broken again.