1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88

2014 Drive-My

1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88. Racing takes talent, luck and money to win. Cliff Gottlob had plenty of the first two. His drag racing records and five engineering degrees caught the attention of General Motors. Rather than join the company, Gottlob struck a gentlemen’s agreement that would get him all the parts he needed to go racing, as long as he gave detailed engineering reports about the faults and possible fixes. Gottlob then ordered a Corvette in 1967. He was the last person ever to pick up a C2 from the St. Louis factory, because he needed extra time to figure out how to pay for it.

Good thing he eventually retrieved the car: It was one of only 20 examples of the C2 Corvette fitted with the L88 package. Today, Corvette fans treat the 1967 L88 as the holy grail because the near-600-horsepower cars were basically factory racers snuck out the back door.

But Gottlob was a driver, not a collector. He would spend the next three years racking up so many SCCA victories that his friends at GM entered the old Corvette in the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona. This was a dream come true for Gottlob and his mechanic, Jack Blatchford, but it also quickly became a nightmare. Last-minute problems with everything from tires to a broken trailer meant the pure race car was fitted with mufflers and driven the 1600 miles from Kansas to Daytona. The team arrived just in time to take position on the grid, and the next day Gottlob took second in the GT class. They had made it to the race, endured Daytona, and nearly beaten a properly funded team, so second place was still an unquestionable triumph.

The team had a quick post-race celebration, re-fitted the mufflers, and drove the Corvette back home to Kansas. Daytona was just like any other of Gottlob’s 150 victories in that car. While his story is extraordinary, a unique twist has preserved Gottlob’s race car as if it were frozen in time.

Gottlob kept everything to do with his beloved racer, down to the last scrap of paper. In 1978 David Burroughs bought the Corvette, and Burroughs believes deeply in preservation over restoration. He had hardly replaced anything on the L88 when he sold it in 1997 to a California collector, who also changed very little. In fact, when Burroughs bought back the car 15 years later, it came with unopened boxes of parts he’d packed himself when he sent this Corvette out West.

Race cars are used as tools that often are completely rebuilt or stripped for parts. So preservation and rarity took on a whole new meaning when this celebrated vintage track car was shown at Amelia Island with the same dirt in the foot- wells it got racing at Daytona over four decades ago.

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