L88 Corvettes have been some of the most desirable Corvettes since they rolled off the assembly line in St. Louis, Missouri when they were brand new. This 1969 L88 Corvette is basically one of one. It was specially ordered by an amateur Corvette racer for the sole purpose of competing on Florida racetracks. Little did he know that his brand new Daytona Yellow L88 Corvette was to become one of the most famous and record setting Corvettes of all time. Equipped with the 427 cubic inch L88 full competition engine and its trademark L88 hood, the following additional options came with the car: M22 heavy duty four speed transmission, J56 heavy duty disc brake calipers, J50 power brakes, F41 heavy duty suspension, K66 transistor ignition, C48 heater delete, soft top delete, black vinyl interior, and a bolt-on auxiliary hardtop. The owner’s pre-existing Corvette racer status allowed him to obtain an early release of the new and improved aluminum open chamber cylinder heads and a dual disc clutch/pressure plate which would not have been available to the general public for another six months. Another benefit that this L88 Corvette received were the deletion of its heavy sound deadening materials and the heavy carpeting in the rear cargo area. The deletion of these items allowed a quick reduction of its curb weight creating a “Lightweight” L88. Once delivered to the owner in January 1969, this L88 Corvette was disassembled and prepared for the upcoming 1969 12 Hours of Sebring. Fender flares were bonded on, header/sidepipes were installed, wider wheels and tires were mounted.
The original owner, Or Costanzo, and his co-driver Dave Heinz, were basically amateurs racing against professionals and European factory teams. This L88 Corvette qualified 2nd in GT at Sebring, which in and of itself, was a huge accomplishment as this Corvette competed without a major sponsorship. After 12 hours and 184 laps, this Corvette claimed 3rd in the GT class.
After Sebring, this L88 Corvette would race in its Sebring format complete with fender flares in local Florida SCCA events. It was placed in the A/Sports Racer class due to its non-factory fender flares. Despite being matched up with non-factory assembled cars, it continued to perform well, and at the Paul Whiteman Trophy Races that were held at the Daytona International Speedway over the weekend of August 3rd 1969, it took 1st place in its race and 1st place overall.
This L88 Corvette continued to race through the 1970 season starting with the long distance endurance races where it achieved a 5th in the GT class at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and a top ten overall ranking at Sebring before an unfortunate mechanical failure put it out of the race an hour before the finish.
Not to be discouraged, for the 1971 racing season, this Corvette was completely rebuilt from the frame up. During this rebuilding process, the car acquired a number that Dave Heinz had used on his former racing cars, #57. Bob Johnson from Marietta Ohio replaced Costanzo as a driver, and would now co-drive with Heinz. At the 1971 24 Hours of Daytona, this Corvette assumed the GT lead at about the seven hour mark. But unfortunately, the #57 suffered an electrical fire which forced extended repairs in the pits. This L88 Corvette finished the race 2nd in GT and 6th Overall against an international field of competitors. Keeping that momentum going at the 1971 12 Hours of Sebring, this #57 finished the race 2nd in GT, and 10th Overall.
Shortly after Sebring, a new racing series called IMSA was developing. This race series contained a GT category called GTO, which allowed Corvettes to use the extra wide fender flares that were needed in the endurance races. It was a perfect fit for this Corvette and they began racing the next month with a new paint job. The #57 Corvette was now red with a confederate stars and bars paint job. The team felt that this new paint job would be the final step needed for its transformation into a winner. This #57 L88 Corvette was now the “Rebel Corvette” and IMSA was a perfect fit for this L88 Corvette as it became IMSA’s first GTO Champion.
1972 was to be the Rebel Corvette’s best year of its career. At Daytona, the team drove to a 1st in GT and 8th Overall. The team kept their momentum going as they raced the 12 Hours of Sebring. Marietta Bob Johnson drove the Rebel Corvette under the checkered flag at the 12 hour mark. The Rebel Corvette was a three year old Corvette that claimed 1st in GT and 4th overall finishing position behind three prototype Ferraris.
The Rebel L88 Corvette is a very special Corvette which was the only third generation factory built L88 Corvette to win back to back Daytona and Sebring GT wins in the same calendar year. The 4th Overall finishing position for the Rebel Corvette at the 1972 12 Hours of Sebring is a record that still stands today for a factory produced Corvette. These victories were accomplished by non-professional drivers and without major sponsorship.
The Rebel Corvette has been meticulously restored to its 1972 Daytona and Sebring Championship trim with period correct and NOS parts which complemented many of its original parts such as the dash, seats, steering wheel, shifter, battery box, racing wheels, bolt on hardtop, and the electrical control box filled with toggle switches which was originally installed by Dave Heinz himself to replace the factory console when this car first started its racing career.
Highlights for the L88 Rebel Corvette include:
- Complete Provenance History
- Copy of Original Invoice from Original Owner
- Copy of Retail Installment Contract from Original Owner
- 1st Place Overall Paul Whiteman Trophy Races Daytona International Speedway 1969
- 1971 IMSA GTO Champion
- 1972 Daytona Endurance GT Champion
- 1972 Sebring 12 Hours GT Champion
- Holds Record for Highest finishing position of any production line Corvette at the 12 Hours of Sebring
- Used by Goodyear Tire in National advertising after wins at Daytona and Sebring 1972
- Display car for the National Corvette Museum
- Display car for Bloomington Gold Special Collection
- In 2000, it received the NCRS American Heritage Award
- In 2008, it was one of only a few select L88 Corvettes to have its racing history covered in detail by Dr. Peter Gimenez in his definitive L88 book: Corvette Racing Legends.
- Jan 2014, it was sold at Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction for a new record price for a racing Corvette of $2.86 Million dollars with Dr. Pete Gimenez assisting at the auction as a consultant.