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​My 1967 L89 Corvette

​My 1967 L89 Corvette

Posted by Randall Parker and AJ Parker on Apr 16th 2020

In 1981 I was a seasoned SCCA Auto Cross racer (one season). I had been racing a primer gray 1967 Mustang 289 Fastback as a co-driver. It was owned by my friend Steve that I went to High School with and was also attending the University of Utah with. We carpooled in his Mustang every day for Trig and Chemistry which we were both enrolled. We had “Porsche Eater” spray painted on the side. 

I started to get the hankering for my own car. I loved Mustangs and chased a few that came up for sale. The exercise was to look in the “Cars for sale” section of the Tribune at 5:00am and race to beat everyone else to the good deals. I never won that game. I missed out on a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 428 R Code Fastback that was Red and very rusty for $1000. Missed it by 3 minutes. Couple of months of this game went by when a 70 ½ Z28 came up for sale in my home town of Alpine, Utah.

The Camaro was not in great shape and all the Z28 parts had been sold off. The rest of the car was $150. The nose had been kicked by a horse, but I bought it. It took a couple of months before I got my hands on an LT1 engine and M22 Transmission from a junk yard. I also found a 4:11 12 bolt rear end for it and re-built it. It was a decently fast car and beat my friend’s 67 Mustang easily. I drove my Z28 around Salt Lake and Provo, Utah for 10 years making it nicer every year.

Around 1987 I wanted to be more competitive in the SCCA Auto Cross. I was in BSP (B Street Prepared) street driven V8 cars that had some hot rodding done. My Z28 and Steve’s Mustang were both in that class but so were older Corvettes. I started on a hunt for an L88 Corvette. They were selling for $10K 1969’s, $13K for 1967’s if you could find one. No one wanted a '68. I watched the papers for a year, checked Hemmings and finally in May 1988 found one in North Carolina. It was $13,000. About the time I was making a plan to travel out to get this thing a 1967 427 Corvette came up for sale in Ogden, Utah, a hell of a lot closer to home. It had aluminum heads just like an L88 but it had the Triple Holley Carburetors vs the 850 carburetor of an L88. 

It was also only $12,000 dollars. So I bought it! It was Silver Pearl, same “SOB” close ratio trans I had been fighting with in my Z28. The '67 Vette’s trans probably was easier to shift but the ratios were the same with the same 4:11 rear gear. I was instantly faster auto crossing though. I was also more respected and had more friends. Who knew? 

I started making that car into an L88 spec Vette. I found a 1969 L88 “Crate” engine in North Dakota that was still in the crate. Traveled up and got that and again was instantly faster at the auto cross. I replaced the 1967 close ratio M22 transmission with a wide ratio M21 that had a 2.52 first gear and again I was instantly faster. By the way, that has been my go to 1 st gear ratio combination since then. 2.52 x 4.11 = 10.356. I try for this first gear ratio on all my Chevrolet V8 cars ever since. My 1967 Corvette could turn high 11 second quarter mile passes at Bonneville Raceway if I shifted it at 6500 rpms. 

One Friday night my friend Clifford wanted to go out street racing. He had a 1992 Lingenfelter stroked Corvette and I had “Spooky” my 1967 427 Corvette with an L88. We heard about street racing happening out by the Airport on the west side of the International Center. When we got there it was astonishing. There were at least 50 cars and 500+ kids lining the street. Cliff and I watched a couple of races by some imports and decided to get in the game. I pulled up in Spooky and a 1990 Turbo 300ZX pulled up next to me. He asked if we wanted to race. My response was “you’d need 5 turbos to beat this car”. He said he would love to race me. I said how about $20. He said “OK” and lined it up with me. 

I was looking down the street and all I could see was people completely blocking the road like a giant human funnel. I revved up that L88 and they all paid attention. Just like in the movies a hot chick walked out and tossed a hat into the air. I floored that Vette and went up in smoke. I burned a double tire patch for ¼ of a mile. The sea of kids watching parted like Moses parting the sea as me and the twin turbo ZX approached them at speed. He got the jump on me and I could not catch up with my tires roasting away on the asphalt. Yup, I lost my twenty bucks and about two feet of pride.

We came back around to pay up on the bet and Clifford asked if the guy wanted to race his car. Now my car was clearly faster than Clifford’s’ but, I had left 1320 feet of tire patch. Clifford lined up and the same thing happened with all the kids, they crowded into the street to see and then parted as the cars approached racing. Clifford smoked that ZX Turbo easily and got a Twenty for his trouble. I did not get my two feet of pride back.

Now it is 2019 and I am putting the original L89 engine back in the car. The L88 is still standard bore and runs great, but I like to take it to the car shows now and the Corvette guys always give me grief for not having the original engine in it. The original engine had been bored .030 when I bought the car and pulled it out. Just this summer I bored it .060 to clean up the cylinders. I am putting a good set of J&E pistons in it at the stock 11:1 ratio. No more racing fuel required I hope. My '69 L88 engine has 230 PSI compression. Spec’d out at 12.9:1. The Triple Carburetors will probably leak just like they used to but the NCRS will stop giving me crap every time I drive up in it. I have the original stock Rally Wheels. The Kelsey Hayes knock off wheels I purchased later for driving to church on Sundays.

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