By 1967, the Chevrolet Corvette was well established as America's premier sports car, having benefited from fourteen years of continuous development. Zora Arkus-Duntov, the visionary behind the 'Vette's evolution, decided to offer a select group of clients something very special; a full-blown race machine thinly disguised as a road car. Hence the birth of the legendary L88.
The big block 427 engine was cast in aluminum and equipped with high performance heads, while the compression ratio was upped to a then-walloping 12.5:1. The exotic power plant was designed to run on 103 octane race fuel, and a prominent plaque placed on the car's center console warned drivers about the dangers of using anything less potent. With all of the engine mods, and use of a huge Holley four barrel carburator, the L88 produced around 430 horsepower, according to Chevrolet's literature. In reality, the car was pumping out a massive 560 HP at 6400 rpm, enough to launch it from 0-60 in five seconds flat! Keep in mind that it would not be until 1982 that the Ferrari 512BB could equal this performance. Chevy produced only twenty examples of the 1967 L88, which propelled it into the ranks of the most desirable Corvettes in history. Evidence of this was provided in 2014 when an L88 fetched nearly $4 million at auction.
In 2002, during what may well be the 'Golden Age' of large scale diecast models, Franklin Mint first produced their extraordinary version of the 1967 L88. Interestingly, the model's body is composed of fiberglass, just like the real thing, and the lovely lines of the 'Sting Ray' design are faithfully reproduced. In keeping with the 1:12 scale offerings from their main rival, the Danbury Mint, the model is laden with working features and details.
Installing three AAA batteries activates the working head and tail lights, including functional high beams and tail lights that brighten when the brake pedal is depressed. When the lights are on, the instruments are illuminated as well, and provide an eye-catching display in a dim room.
Nothing is overlooked in the cockpit, where the shift and handbrake levers operate, the turn signal lever moves, the glove box and ashtray open, the leather-clad seats fold forward, and the side windows crank up and down. Flipping open the hatch behind the seats reveals the neatly folded (and static) convertible top, while further aft on the decklid, the fuel filler lid pivots open. The cockpit doors open easily, and snick back into place with magnetic catches. Pop open the hood, and the 427 motor is nicely replicated with fuel delivery, coolant, brake hoses and ignition wires faithfully reproduced. Lifting off the distinctive air cleaner reveals the gold painted Holley four barrel. All in all, an engine bay worth displaying with the hood open.
Our '67 L88 is new in the box, and is supplied with all factory packaging, illustrated poster, hard top, tools, manual and black display plinth. In the ever changing world of scale automobiles and soaring prices, we may never see the likes of this hyper-detailed Corvette again.