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*Please note that the prefix of this car’s original matching-numbers engine was misprinted in the catalogue. The prefix should read T1028LO, while the rest of the engine number is 19S736254 as printed in the catalogue.
This breathtaking example of the rare and powerful L88 Corvette has much to offer, including desirable options, competition provenance, a limited number of owners, and recognition by some of the Corvette community’s most esteemed members. When this Stingray was chosen for Bloomington Gold’s 2005 Special Collection honoring Corvettes with “great stories,” the selection was a well-deserved recognition of the car’s impressive background.
According to an original Chevrolet Motor Division Corvette Order Form, this Corvette was ordered on September 7, 1969, with two particularly significant mechanical options: the rugged Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed transmission, and the powerful L88 engine. Utilizing mechanical valve lifters, an aluminum head, and a special ultra high-performance camshaft, the L88 code’s Special Turbo-Jet 427 cid V-8 developed 430 hp according to official manufacturer performance quotes, but actually put out as much as 560 hp.
This Stingray was additionally outfitted with Soft-Ray tinted glass, power brakes, a special brake system, transistor ignition, a 3.70:1 Posi-Traction rear axle, a special-purpose suspension, and side-mounted exhaust pipes. The car is believed to be one of the last L88s produced in 1969, and is one of a handful of such coupes originally optioned with the coveted sidepipes. The car is also cosmetically rare, as the original color of Riverside Gold was offered for the 1969 model year only.
On November 25, 1969, this Corvette was shipped to the Melton Motor Company in Belleville, Kansas, where it was delivered to the proprietor’s son, James K. Melton. The young Mr. Melton had persisted with his father for some time about acquiring a ZL1, the most powerful Corvette engine option in 1969, but the elder Melton was understandably not keen on the idea. Eventually, a compromise was reached, and the slightly-less-powerful L88 was ordered.
James Melton intended to use the Corvette as a daily driver for a brief time before campaigning it on the local drag strip of the American Hot Rod Association, a onetime Midwest-based competitor to the NHRA that flourished during the 1960s and 1970s. Soon after delivery, Mr. Melton ordered a ZL1 engine through his father’s dealership, and removed the original L88 for the lighter motor. With this single modification, Mr. Melton campaigned the Stingray at the Manhattan Raceway Park in Manhattan, Kansas, competing in the AAV class and setting a world record on May 1, 1971. According to a World Drag Racing Record certificate issued by the AHRA, Melton ran the 1/4-mile in 11.77 seconds, reaching a speed of 120.16 mph.
Following this motor sports achievement, the Corvette was retained by Mr. Melton until 1982, when he reinstalled the original L88 motor and subsequently sold the car to M.F. Dobbins. Mr. Dobbins in turn sold the car in 1988 to the current owner, a respected Corvette collector based in Pennsylvania. The consignor garaged the rare L88 in his climate-controlled facility, and eventually some degree of mechanical restoration was undertaken.
In 2005, the Stingray was selected for exhibition at Bloomington Gold’s Special Collection, a spotlight grouping of 10 particularly compelling Corvettes. The consignor sought to freshen the car in preparation for this honor, and Kevin MacKay of Valley Stream, New York, who has specialized in vintage Corvette restorations since 1985, was retained to perform the work. In addition to claiming technical restoration expertise, Mr. MacKay is a respected Corvette authority who has served as an NCRS master judge and a Bloomington Gold Benchmark Judge during his 25 years of marque judging. He has since periodically tended to the car as needed to ensure optimal condition.
Notably, in 2010 the consignor commissioned Mr. MacKay to perform a more concerted round of freshening, including a concours-level refinish of the engine and ancillary mechanicals, and a full repaint of the exterior in the rare original, factory-correct shade of Riverside Gold. As usual, Mr. MacKay’s work stressed authenticity above all, right down to the chemical composition of the paint, which consisted of a contemporary lacquer base rather than a modern urethane base. Impressed with the L88’s original interior and matching-numbers drivetrain, Mr. MacKay readily attests to its overwhelming level of quality, describing it as “a knockout.” He also notes that the car retains its original bodywork.
Currently displaying approximately 14,300 miles and wearing original non-DOT whitelettered tires, this rare L88 Coupe continues to exhibit the benefits of ownership by just three caretakers over its lifetime. It is accompanied by considerable documentation corroborating its provenance, including original dealership orders and invoices, the tank sticker, and the AHRA World Drag Racing Record certificate. In addition, the car is accompanied by several letters from Bloomington Gold Judges, certifying the original matching-numbers engine, and the superior condition of this L88. According to Kevin MacKay, “it would be extremely difficult to replace this L88 Corvette…it is one of the best.”
As one of just 116 examples of the powerful L88 made in 1969, this unique example embodies a muscular height of performance for the beloved Corvette. Rare options like the factory sidepipes and Riverside Gold finish further distinguish this car as one of just a handful, and it is sure to effortlessly turn heads at Corvette gatherings and concours alike.