the Chevrolet L88 Corvette was a racing vehicle that people could license for street use. Chevrolet designed the Corvette L88 with competitive driving in mind. They also built it for optimal performance. The L88 option featured an aluminum intake, an 850 cfm Holley carb, and a solid-state ignition system.
It also featured a radically solid lifter cam, a cast iron block with 4 main bolts, a forged steel crank, forged rods and a 12.5:1 compression ratio. The L88 Big-Block could easily produce between 550 and 600 horsepower with a set of heads and some tune, which makes the 430-horsepower factory rating seem ridiculous.
Air conditioning, radios, power windows, and steering were not options on L88s. One could have L88 with heavy-duty electric disc brakes, the beefier F41 special front and rear suspension, and a Positraction rear end. In 1967, Chevrolet only offered the L88 with the Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” transmission, and in 1968 and 1969, it was available with either the Muncie or Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission.
Chevrolet produced just 20 Corvette L88s in 1967, increasing to 80 in 1968 and 116 in 1969. The Corvette L88 was only produced for three years, making it one of the rarest Corvettes. Of the limited group of Corvette L88s, only one really stood out: the 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 #57 “Rebel” racing convertible.
So let’s take a look at why the 1969 Chevy Corvette “Rebel” convertible race car is worth millions.
This Is What Makes 1969’s The Rebel Priceless
Chevrolet previously kept the L88 somewhat hidden. Private individuals, not factory-backed teams, took the risks since GM leadership had banned Chevrolet from racing. Chevy created these top-secret Corvettes without carpets, magnesium wheels, and hardtop convertibles. They were hardly comfortable by today’s standards, but this was a Corvette that was only meant for racing.
SCCA racer Orlando Costanzo received the Rebel Corvette in Daytona Yellow paint when it was first delivered in 1969. This particular L88 also shipped with prototype cylinder heads that wouldn’t be commercially available for another six months.
Due to Costanzo’s experience in SCCA racing and his formal affiliation with GM as sales manager for Ferman Chevrolet in Tampa, Florida, his L88 was reportedly one of the first four versions. Chevrolet built these versions with open-chamber cylinder heads and a double-disc clutch.
Dave Heinz raced in this livery until 1971, when Costanzo modified the livery as an opportunity for the Greenwood Team and to honor the car’s home base of Florida. Costanzo eventually trimmed it down with orange stripes.
Despite Costanzo and Heinz’s modest racing success in the L88, the car did not produce championship-winning performances. This was probably due to how fiercely contested the SCCA and IMSA GTO competitions were. Midway through the 1971 campaign, Costanzo sold the car to Toye English, the team’s manager.
English and his son later established the Racing Engineering and Development (RED) team. Heinz and American race car driver Don Yenko would handle driving responsibilities, while Goodyear Tires would provide sponsorship to help with expenses.
The competition between the two Corvette teams quickly earned the nickname “Tire Wars” as Greenwood competed with BFGoodrich as sponsor. As a result, both Goodyear and BFGoodrich developed radial tire technology for both street and track.
The Rebel Corvette came second to a Greenwood Corvette driven by John Greenwood and Bob Johnson in the RED team’s inaugural race at Watkins Glen in 1971. It didn’t take long for Heinz and Yenko to start recording wins. The RED Team won the 1971 IMSA GTO Championship with a win at Daytona in the final race of the season. Along the road, Don Yenko set a new three-oval speed record for the class, clearing the high bank at a speed of 201.4 mph.
The Rebel Corvette took over and held the GT Class lead at Sebring throughout the following year’s 12-hour race, winning the class and placing fourth overall.
How much was the rebel sold for?
Compared to the rare ZL1 model produced in the same year, the Rebel Convertible Race vehicle sold for more than double. Production of the unique racing version of this Corvette was extremely limited.
According to Barrett-Jackson, a buyer paid an incredible $2.86 million at auction for this specific Rebel, previously preserved in pristine condition. It is a member of the L88 series. Corvette enthusiasts place this model high on their wish lists.
If another goes up for sale, and it’s in great shape, you can anticipate that the offering will push the price to at least this level and maybe even higher.