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THE 1967-MODEL Corvette was not meant to be.
That is, it was not supposed to appear in the guise
in which it actually came to market. An entirely new
body had been set for introduction that year but was
postponed for a twelve-month period. In both styling
and speciﬁcations the ’67 was an interim model, as
reﬂected also by the 17.2-percent drop in production
for its model year to 22,940 cars from the record set
by the 1966 model.
External factors played a part in this shift in
demand. The Sting Ray was no longer a sensational
novelty. As well, the market was awash with afford-
able sporty cars that offered big engines and thrusting
performance. The founder of the “Ponycar” category
in 1964, Ford’s Mustang, was soon joined by Mercury’s
Cougar. Late in 1967 American Motors would crash the
party with its Javelin. Plymouth, which had been active
from 1964 with its Barracuda, upgraded its entry in
1967. Dodge came aboard later with its Challenger.
Most crucial for the Corvette was its new in-house
competition. Chevrolet offered not only its Camaro
but also its Corvair, which would mature in 1965 with
a rear suspension like the Sting Ray’s and 180 turbo-
charged horsepower. Indeed, some in Design Staff’s
Studio X, like engineer Tony Lapine, saw in the Corvair
the nucleus of a sports car that could and should
replace the Corvette.
Then there was thrusting Pontiac, next up the
corporation’s ladder from Chevrolet. Pontiac, in fact,
craved to challenge the Corvette’s role as GM’s only
sports car. “We desperately wanted a two-passenger
sports car,” admitted Bill Collins, who headed Pontiac’s
hyperactive Advanced Engineering Department.
“Design Staff assigned the XP-833 designation and to-
gether a really neat car was designed, engineered and
two driveable prototypes built.
“In those days the GM divisions were unique
kingdoms of their own,” Collins explained, “and we
had the freedom to do interesting things as long as
it wasn’t interfering with production and we didn’t
spend a lot of money on it.” First presented as a con-
cept in 1964, when Pete Estes was Pontiac’s general
manager and John DeLorean its chief engineer, the
XP-833 would have been on the market in 1967. It
L88 ORIGINS 34
1967: C2 swan song
Rivalry from others including Pontiac’s
lighter, smaller XP-833
Ventilated steel “Rally” wheels appear
Triple Holley carburetors for Mark IV
Aluminum-head L88 engine in spring 1967
L88 entry at Le Mans in 1967
was to have Pontiac’s single-overhead-cam six as the
base powerplant with an optional V-8.
The car’s proposition was a lighter, simpler, less
expensive sports car than the Corvette—virtually a
reversion to the original Project Opel. Its front and
rear suspension were freely adapted from the A-body
Tempest intermediates that Pontiac was producing,
although dedicated front wishbones were designed
to suit the XP-833. “We thought up a dozen different
ways to put a sports car into production,” said Collins,
like building it in Canada. His vision, he said, was “a
neat sports car at a reasonable price—the kind of car
you could drive around Fort Lauderdale on a summer
day with your arm out the window.”
The two XP-833s were built on a 90-inch wheel-
base, a full foot shorter than the original C1. Styled
with a chrome integral bumper that mirrored Pontiac’s
trademark split grille, they were roadsters with
conventional slim-pillared windscreens. An opening
rear deck covered the retracted roof and allowed lug-
gage access, one-upping the Corvette. Styling by Ned
Nickels in his special studio was clean and edgy in
Pontiac’s idiom of the time with nary a fake grille or
vent. The body was GRP attached to a steel subframe.
With ﬁxed seats and adjustable pedals, the XP-833
interior was less commodious than the Corvette’s but
adequate by sports-car standards. The six-cylinder
Red-line tires complemented the look of a 1967
Sting Ray coupe with the big Mark IV engine,
which was offered in four different versions.
470 CHAPTER 34
prototype was a hardtop, silver with a red interior,
while the V-8 roadster was white with black trim.
When powered by the six the prototype two-seater
weighed only 2,200 pounds, one-quarter less than the
comparable 1953 Corvette. Though it would doubtless
have accrued some pounds in production form, this
showed good work by Pontiac’s engineers.
Although GM’s powerful Engineering Policy Group
rejected the XP-833 when Estes and DeLorean present-
ed it as a concept in 1964, the charismatic DeLorean
told his engineers to go ahead and build the proto-
types. Even their undoubted appeal, at the second
time of asking, was not enough to sway the 14
as the aerie of the corporation’s top executives was
known. Bunkie Knudsen certainly mounted a stout de-
fense of his Corvette as GM’s one and only sports car
and his sporty Corvair as a worthy stablemate.
1 The project’s cancellation did not bring destruction of the
prototypes. Bill Collins was able to buy the V-8 roadster in the
1970s. As Pontiac’s assistant chief engineer he often visited
Design Staff, where a Pontiac concept car called the “Banshee”
had been created. “I found two sets of chrome-plated Banshee
nameplates,” Collins recalled. “As the leader on the XP-833
project I felt the right to name them ‘Banshee.’” Thus this
name, now associated with these cars, came well after their
creation and abandonment.
Completed in 1964, two XP-833 prototypes
represented serious potential competition for
the Corvette from sister GM division Pontiac.
Though designed as a simpler vehicle to compete at a
lower price point than the Corvette, Pontiac’s XP-833
had a handsome cockpit with real sports-car looks.
While one Pontiac XP-833 prototype—later dubbed
the “Banshee”—had a V-8 the other was powered by
the division’s pioneering overhead-cam six.
471 1967 AND L88 ORI GI NS
Thus the Corvette dodged this internal bullet.
A direct external challenge originated with—of all
places—American Motors, where Richard A. “Dick”
Teague was an exceptionally resourceful chief stylist
and sports-car enthusiast. Introduced early in 1968,
AMC’s AMX was the end result of a concept-car project
that began in October of 1965. As Dick Teague de-
scribed it, “The AMX was designed for automobile
enthusiasts, for people who really love cars—not to
satisfy statisticians.” Work on it was headed by Charles
“Chuck” Mashigan’s advanced styling studio.
From a series of AMX-badged concept cars a two-
seater coupe emerged that was ﬁrst realized in steel by
Vignale to AMC’s designs. Told to use as much of the
AMC Javelin “Ponycar” as possible, said Teague, “we
took twelve inches out of the wheelbase and moved
the bumper, gas tank, deck lid and back light all for-
ward to come up with a sleek two-passenger sports
car.” The resulting 97-inch wheelbase was an inch
shorter than the Corvette’s and its weight reasonable
at 3,350 pounds.
Not underpowered with its choice of V-8s of 290
and 390 cubic inches, the AMX hit the market with a
spectacular record-setting spree by Craig Breedlove
and his wife Lee. At a Texas test track they rolled up
106 American and international speed records. With
a price tag only three-quarters that of a Sting Ray, the
AMX was a cheeky new entrant with impressive per-
formance and sporty handling. AMX sales peaked at
8,293 in 1969, however, with a total of 19,134 made
through the 1970 model year. To Dick Teague’s great
frustration it was dropped because its donor vehicle,
the Javelin, was being rejigged.
If fresh styling were needed to help the 1967
Corvette cope with its challengers, its supporters
would be disappointed. Exterior changes in Chevrolet’s
sports car for 1967 were subtle in the extreme. A cen-
tral reversing lamp above the rear license plate was
one hallmark. Another was a new front-fender vent
design of ﬁve louvers. For the ﬁrst time the optional
hardtop could be ordered with a black vinyl covering.
One of the features of the ’67 Sting Ray that had been
specially planned for use with a new body was place-
ment of the hand-brake lever on the center console,
between redesigned seats.
New ventilated steel “Rally” wheels with six-inch
rims and chrome “rimbellishers” were standard equip-
ment, giving a purposeful look. The now-mainly-deco-
rative status of the optional cast-aluminum wheels was
acknowledged by making them bolt-on parts, eliminat-
ing the weight and cost of knock-off hubs. This also
In 1968 AMC intro-
duced its production
AMX, which remained
available through 1970
with a total of more
than 19,000 produced.
As part of a series of concept-car exercises
American Motors built this appealing two-
seater AMX, designed as a Javelin derivative.
472 CHAPTER 34
responded to heightened safety concerns, the knock-
off spinners’ ears being considered a hazard.
The role of the Mark IV grew in 1967, signaled
by a new and aggressive-looking pseudo-scoop hood
panel that covered all the 427-cubic-inch engines. The
lower three engine choices remained unchanged, with
the important addition of a Powerglide transmission as
an option with the 390-bhp Mark IV V-8.
At the top of the ladder were two more engines.
Both were topped by a triangular air cleaner covering
a new manifold ﬁtted with three Holley two-barrel
carburetors. These were interconnected by a system
that sensed vacuum in the venturi of the center car-
buretor—not in the manifold, as with other multicarb
arrangements—to open the throttles of the two end
carburetors gradually as the engine’s demand for ad-
ditional air and fuel increased.
This new system, reported Car and Driver, “results
in an astoundingly tractable engine and uncannily
smooth engine response. As soon as it’s rolling, say at
500 rpm, you can push the throttle to the ﬂoor and
the car just picks up with a turbine-like swelling surge
of power that never misses a beat all the way up to
its top speed of over 140 mph. And you get the same
response—instantly—in any gear any time you open
the tap. On the whole, the Corvette’s three deuces are
as smooth and responsive as fuel injection.”
The lesser of the two 3 x 2-barrel engines was the
L68, which carried a hydraulic-lifter camshaft and was
rated at 400 bhp at 5,400; 460 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm. This
too could be ordered with the Powerglide transmission.
Only the close-ratio four-speed was ﬁtted behind the
L71, the mechanical-lifter version, which was conserva-
tively rated at 435 bhp at 5,800 rpm, a $437.10 option.
Popular Hot Rodding took its test car—equipped with a
Positraction differential and close-ratio Muncie trans-
mission—straight to the drag strip.
“We made no engine adjustments other than
removal of the top of the air cleaner,” said PHR. “The
best starting-line technique was to drive off at around
2,000 rpm and nail it to the wood. The ﬁrst 100 feet
was a wild ride, something like driving in syrup, but
after the tires ﬁnally caught hold the ’Vette really
showed its oats. The best time registered out of 14
runs and a combination of drivers was 13.91 seconds
ET and 106.25 mph.” The L71’s time to 60 mph of 4.7
seconds in the Car and Driver test logbook was not
beaten until 1975, by a Porsche Turbo.
“As to stopping ability,” Popular Hot Rodding con-
tinued, “the Corvette is second to none. On each of the
runs made at the strip a full stop was made at the end
of the quarter-mile. Using four-wheel disc brakes is
like throwing out an anchor—you stop right now. We
felt that an American car had been built which put the
fun back into driving. The ride is stiff, but if it were
mushy the Corvette wouldn’t be a sports car.”
To the buyer of the L71 another new $368.65 op-
tion could be added: aluminum cylinder heads. Cast
by the Winters foundry, these chopped an important
75 pounds from the front end and offered larger ex-
haust valves with heads measuring 1.84 inches. This
was the production debut of the aluminum heads for
the “Mark” engine that had ﬁrst been tried at Sebring
during practice in 1966 on the Penske-owned Grand
Aluminum heads were building blocks in the con-
struction of a Corvette engine that became legendary,
the L88 option announced in the spring of 1967. There
Delivering an unofficial 560 horsepower, the L88 engine
introduced in 1967 was designed for racing. L88-equipped
Corvettes were stripped of heater, defroster and radio to
save weight. They featured a unique cowl-induction hood
among other racing options.
473 1967 AND L88 ORI GI NS
was no hedging on the output of this engine; Chevy
said nothing at all about it. But a reliably reported
power ﬁgure for the L88 was 560 bhp at 6,400 rpm on
fuel of 103 research octane.
“And with unrestricted
exhaust,” said Zora Duntov, “640. I pick 430, I don’t
know why. Is just a number.” It was as pure a racing
engine as Chevrolet had yet offered for the Corvette.
The L88 V-8 could only be ordered with all the oth-
er racing options plus the K66 transistor ignition sys-
tem, the G80 Positraction differential and option C48: a
credit of $97.85 for deletion of the otherwise standard
heater and defroster, “to cut down on weight and dis-
courage the car’s use on the street,” said Corvette News.
Although the engine alone was priced at $947.90, with
all the concomitant extras the package came to some
$1,500. In 1967 20 buyers chose the L88.
L88 design features included a 12.5:1 compression
ratio, an aluminum intake manifold modiﬁed to form
2 In 1992 Corvette Fever reported on a dynamometer test of
a rebuilt L88. It produced 502 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Horsepower at 5,200 rpm was 489 and at 6,200 rpm 514.
These are likely to be net ﬁgures, inclusive of accessories,
unlike the gross SAE ﬁgures used at the time by Chevrolet
a plenum chamber under the single Holley 850 CFM
carburetor, heavy-duty bottom end with a Tufftrided
crankshaft and shot-peened connecting rods with
extra-strong 0.716-inch bolts. Pistons were forged
by TRW of high-silicon-alloy aluminum. Hardened
pushrods and heat-treated rocker arms lifted inlet
valves by 0.559 inch and exhausts by 0.580 inch with
an overlap of 136 degrees before they were closed by
The L88’s small-diameter ﬂywheel carried a
high-capacity clutch, driving Muncie’s “rock crusher”
M22 transmission. Other adjuncts to the L88 were an
aluminum cross-ﬂow radiator and an engine-air intake
from the grille at the base of the windshield, an area
of high air pressure—the same inlet location used by
Mickey Thompson at Daytona for the spectacular de-
but of the Mark II engine in 1963. This was a modiﬁ-
cation of the standard Mark IV hood to provide an air-
box and a built-in ﬁlter that mated with the carburetor
entry when the hood was shut. No shroud surrounded
the fan, controlled by a silicone clutch.
Even with this new engine the hefty Corvette was
still no match for the Cobras in the short sprint events
on twisty tracks that typiﬁed most SCCA competition.
But it helped. Corvettes were still doing very well in B
Production with a National Championship in 1964 for
Frank Dominianni of Valley Stream, Long Island. Frank
retroﬁtted his 1962 Corvette with a 283-cubic-inch V-8
With its L88 package the 1967 Sting Ray finally posed
a threat to the Cobras in the SCCA’s A Production
Championships. These great rivals are shown at Road
America in a modern-day duel. This restored L88 is
shown at its racing zenith on page 478.
474 CHAPTER 34
With engine ally Denny Davis, Zora Arkus-Duntov
took pleasure in the potential of the L88 version
of the Mark IV with aluminum heads and a more
robust bottom end.
to move down a class. Enjoying both an engine dyno
and chassis dyno in his workshop, Dominianni made
it his business to know the Ramjet fuel injection
Frank Dominianni’s ﬁrst racing Corvette was a
’57 that established a tradition of red racers bearing
the number 69. One of the masters of the daunting
Bridgehampton circuit, where he drove “on the edge
of destruction,” Dominianni was described as “the
classic overachiever who prevailed with a combination
of resourcefulness, a keen understanding of applied
engineering, optimism and a never-quit attitude.”
Frank and others corralled for the Corvette the SCCA’s
New York and Divisional awards in duplicate in 1965,
triplicate in ’66 and quintuplicate in 1967.
Against the Cobras the SCCA’s A Production
Divisional Championships, the Corvettes were horses
475 1967 AND L88 ORI GI NS
of another color. Shut out in 1964, the Corvette picked
up only a single Divisional award in 1965. With the
advent of the “Mark” engine, however, the outlook
brightened. Two A Production Divisional cups were
collected in 1966 and three in ’67.
Built in late January of 1967, the ﬁrst L88 to be
built reached Detroit’s Hanley Dawson Chevrolet to
the order of Tony DeLorenzo, Jr., enthusiast son of
Anthony G. DeLorenzo, GM’s vice president in charge
of public relations. A convertible, it was race-prepared
for Tony’s A Production campaign in the Midwest.
This was successful enough to take him to the SCCA
Runoffs at Daytona Beach, where he was beaten only
by a Cobra 427. Carrying on with an L88 into 1968,
Tony DeLorenzo played an important role in keeping
motor racing close to the hierarchy of General
Of the four production L88 Sting Rays that came
to Sebring in 1967 one, driven by Don Yenko and Dave
Morgan, placed tenth overall and ﬁrst among the GTs
even though it spent the last 40 minutes of the race
wedged in a sand bank after complete brake failure.
Morgan drove the coupe, sponsored by oil company
Sunray DX, to the SCCA Midwest A Production title.
Carrying on into 1968, the coupe placed tenth overall
and ﬁrst in class at Daytona in the hands of Morgan
and Jerry Grant.
3 This ex-DeLorenzo Corvette sold for $1,325,000 at auction
on August 14, 2010.
In 1967 4,209 buyers
of a total of 22,940
Corvettes ticked the
box for the gorgeous
RPO N14 “Side Mount”
exhaust system, a
dream amenity for
deployed a Mark IV-
equipped 1967 convert-
ible showed off the
substantial hood bulge
and scoop that marked
the big V-8 underneath.
476 CHAPTER 34
Dana Chevrolet’s entry of an L88-equipped
Corvette at Le Mans in 1967 marked a serious
incursion by an American GT car in this
In 1967 an L88 coupe was entered at Le Mans
by a California dealer, Dana Chevrolet, whose Peyton
Cramer nominated Dick Guldstrand to set up a
Dana racing operation to rival that of Carroll Shelby.
Cramer added Le Mans to Dana’s other activities,
gaining sponsorship of $10,000 for the Le Mans effort
from Sunray DX and Mitch Daroff’s Botany Clothing.
At the French classic’s technical inspection, however,
a ﬁrst hurdle was the need to remove all traces of
sponsorship from the car’s livery. With Shell the over-
all race sponsor, Sunray DX had to step back while
Botany was named as the entrant.
More serious was the need to restore the coupe’s
bumpers to present the car in accord with its homolo-
gation. Their weight, together with a full 36-gallon
tank, had the L88 resting on its rear bump stops.
Finding a Peugeot truck spring in a junkyard, they
fashioned a stiffer rear transverse leaf that did the job.
Power was not a problem; Traco had in fact detuned
two L88 engines to 490–500 bhp in the interest of
reliability on the ofﬁcial Le Mans gasoline. Chevrolet’s
observer was Gib Hufstader, “vacationing” in France’s
During qualifying the red, white and blue coupe
cut 10 seconds from the previous Grand Touring
record. Taking the ﬁrst stint, Bob Bondurant put the
Corvette well in the category lead in spite of its being
by 300 pounds the heaviest car in the race at 3,265
pounds wet. It was clocked at 171.5 mph on the
Mulsanne Straight, 20 miles per hour faster than any
Corvette had ever gone there and 22 mph quicker than
the Ferrari that ﬁnally won the GT class.
4 Claims are published that the Sunray DX Corvette set “an
FIA track record” with a speed of “180-plus mph” on the
Mulsanne Straight. The FIA did not take account of times set
on the straight at Le Mans. The speed timed was as stated; the
car may well have reached a higher terminal velocity past the
477 1967 AND L88 ORI GI NS
After eleven and a half hours of racing Dick
Guldstrand was at the wheel when he heard “a mas-
sive bang.” Lifting the hood, he saw parts outside
the engine that should not be there. A wrist-pin
failure cost them a certain victory. According to one
report, Traco’s recommendation that they be replaced
by higher-duty aftermarket parts was rejected by
Chevrolet, which wanted to highlight the capabilities
of its factory-standard engine.
Record top speeds for Corvettes were set at
Bonneville as well as at Le Mans during these years.
The cars fell into a class known as A Grand Touring,
which was assaulted every August during the week
of speed on salt known as the Bonneville Nationals.
In 1964 Bob Hirsch set the record at 155.132 mph
driving a car belonging to Chicagoan Bill Scace. This
was topped in 1965 by Michigander Barry Bock with
his new 396 Sting Ray coupe. Bock averaged 169.654
Dick Guldstrand, left, and Bob Bondurant were
the drivers of the Dana Le Mans entry in 1967,
which easily led the GT category until its engine
went after 11½ hours.
478 CHAPTER 34
mph across the salt lake in his ﬁrst exposure to any
kind of automotive competition.
Bitten by the Bonneville bug, Bock came back the
next year with his engine enlarged to 427 cubic inches
and fed by Hilborn fuel injection. He overcame many
tuning problems with the help of salt-lake veterans to
set a ﬁne new record of 180.138 mph. Not to be out-
done, however, the Scace/Hirsch Corvette speedsters
regained a solid hold on the A Grand Touring record
in 1967 with a two-way average of 192.879 mph.
For a basically stock-bodied Sting Ray that was really
pushing the wind.
So great and so lasting was the impact of the
original Sting Ray body style that it is surprising to
reﬂect that it survived only ﬁve years. That made it
the shortest-lived body design in the car’s history, if
we accept that its predecessors were all variations on
the theme of 1953. But it left an unforgettable legacy.
When the History Channel asked viewers about their
“Dream Machine” in 1998 the Corvette Sting Ray was
their choice as the Greatest Sports Car of All Time.
It decisively defeated the AC Cobra as well as Ford’s
Mustang and GT40.
With a total ﬁve-year production of 117,964 the
C2 Sting Rays hardly qualify as rarities. However those
that have survived without abuse or modiﬁcation
have gained increasing recognition for what they are:
genuine classic sports cars, the best America could
build and, as such, commanding global admiration
One of twenty L88 Corvettes built in 1967, this racer
logged over 150 wins for its owner-driver Cliff Gottlob.
They’re pictured after finishing second in class and 11th
overall in the 1970 Daytona 24 Hours, Dave Dooley co-
driving. Underscoring its display of endurance, Gottlob’s
L88 was driven 1,626 miles from Kansas to Daytona,
raced 24 hours, then driven back home to Kansas.
479 PRODUCTI ON CORVETTES PROFI LED: 1966 –1967
1966: Units built–27,720
1967: Units built–22,940
ILLUSTRATIONS BY KEN RUSH
1968–1969 see page 533
Bentley Publishers, 1734 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138-1804 USA
Tel: 617-547-4170 • Toll Free: 800-423-4595 • Fax: 617-876-9235
The Complete History — 1953-1982
by Karl Ludvigsen
Bentley Stock No: GCSS
Publication Date: 2014-07-04
Hardcover, 9 in. x 10 1/2in.
Case quantity: 1
989 photos, illustrations and diagrams
The Complete History — 1953-1982
Corvette—America’s Star-Spangled Sports Car: The
Complete History, 1953-1982 takes the reader behind
the scenes during the early decades of Corvette design,
engineering, brand development and racing competition.
Award-winning automotive historian Karl Ludvigsen weaves
together a technical examination of each model year with
the compelling stories of the GM staffers and privateer
racers who—through equal parts talent, passion and sheer
force of will—kept the Corvette program thriving against
heavy odds. Ludvigsen’s up close and personal telling of the
Corvette story captures the human drama and ﬁerce rivalries
that fueled the American car industry’s golden age—and
resulted in some impressive Detroit muscle.
When it was published in 1973, Star-Spangled Sports Car
broke new ground as the ﬁrst book devoted entirely to a
single car model. It has since been credited with helping to
kick-start the exciting Corvette hobby. Four decades after its
original publication Classic and Sports Car declared, “Karl
Ludvigsen’s Corvette history remains the bible.”
Now the award-winning author has fully revised,
reorganized and expanded his Corvette bible, devoting
784 pages and 989 photos and illustrations to the complete
history of the C1, C2 and C3 generation cars. As fast-paced
and exciting as the cars it describes, this is a book for anyone
who ever drove a Corvette—or wanted to.
The author and Zora
consult during test
drive of CERV II in
Chapter 36: Racing
Four by Four
rendering of the
XP-755 in 1961.
“My early education and inspiration related to Corvette history
came from my original 1973 copy of “Star Spangled Sports
After 40 years of use, wrinkles, torn dust cover, and dirt stained
pages, it has served as the number one source to help tell the
stories of the cars and people inducted into the Great Hall
David Burroughs — Founder, Bloomington Gold
Karl Ludvigsen with
and Bill Mitchell.
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