Fabulous Restorations, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, specializes in Corvette and muscle car restorations. Owner George Haddad started the business in 1974 after moving from Detroit to Florida. Even though his company works on a wide variety of high-performance muscle cars, George is passionate about Corvettes. If he had to pick a favorite year and option it would be the 1967-’69 L88 and ZL1 Corvettes. As the prices continue to escalate, George used his Corvette expertise to build replicas of his favorite L88 and ZL1 Corvettes.
His first L88 replica, a 1967 Rally Red roadster was built for a customer. This replica pays tribute to the L88 roadster that Cliff Gottlob and Jack Blatchford finished 11th overall with at the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona. Red was chosen as the color to confirm that this is not the same Daytona car. The original white roadster is part of the Dana Mecum/David Burroughs collection. The Rally Red replica L88 is correct in every way except for the color.
The next Corvette replica George’s company built included a copy of an ultra-rare all-aluminum ZL1 engine. Only two are known to have been delivered to customers and both are in private collections. The ZL1 option package cost $5,267.15, which was added to the price of the base Corvette. So, if no other options were ordered, the out-the-door price for a ZL1-equipped Vette was $10,048.15. George’s Le Mans Blue coupe is a hit with Corvette fans whenever it appears at a Corvette event.
The positive reaction to the Fabulous Restoration finished work gave George the desire to build another significant L88. He began researching the Owens Corning Fiberglass (OCF) L88 racing team and learned they raced two Corvettes from 1968-’71. One of the L88s was a “mongrel” built in late 1967 from “GM Service Parts” and the second was a factory fresh “open chamber” 1969 L88 bought by the team at the end of 1968. The two team drivers had deep GM roots. Tony DeLorenzo (son of Anthony G. DeLorenzo, GM VP of Public Relations) and Jerry Thompson (GM Engine Development Test Engineer) were able to gain access to the latest Corvette racing parts. The numerous GM engineers and the availability of the latest service parts helped them assemble a well-respected Corvette racing team. They needed a major sponsor so they spoke with Dolly Cole (wife of GM President Ed Cole) about their funding requirements. Dolly contacted Owens Corning Board Chairman Curtis LeMay (Retired Air Force General) for sponsorship assistance and LeMay agreed.
GM stylist Randy Wittine designed the Owens Corning paint schemes and the team won 22 straight A/Production SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) races from May 1969 to November 1970 with drivers Thompson and DeLorenzo. The team also accrued numerous FIA GT class victories with the same two Corvettes at Daytona and Sebring. Due to corporate budget cuts, the Owens Corning sponsorship ended after the team’s L88 finished 4th overall and first in GT at the 1971 24 Hours of Daytona. At the end of the 1971 season the ’68 mongrel was sold to SCCA racer Jerry Hansen and the ’69 L88 was sold to Bobby Rinzler. DeLorenzo says, “We loved the Corvettes, but it was time for us to move on.” Today, Rick Hendricks owns the mongrel Service Parts roadster that was restored as it raced in the FIA races. Collector Harry Yeaggy purchased the OCF L88 that was restored to look exactly the way it appeared as an SCCA A/Production open top roadster. Both of these original team cars reside in their respective collections.
During George Haddad’s OCF research, he discovered that stylist Randy Wittine designed a Black/White/Red livery for the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona. The team only ran it once, because the OCF marketing department demanded the team return to their original colors. George decided to build his replica using this rare paint scheme. He contacted Randy Wittine for assistance and Randy agreed to help him with duplicating the paint on his L88 OCF project. George and the Fabulous Restoration team spent many hours constructing this replica 1969 L88. They used body and frame parts that were in the shop’s storeroom. Hard to find N.O.S. L88 service parts were located after a nationwide vendor search. The paint scheme was exactly as Randy drew it in late 1969. In addition, Randy even drew the pinstriping for George to follow that appeared on the car at the 1970 race. The end result was stunning.
George felt the best way to unveil his replica was to take it to Daytona International Speedway and get photos of it lapping, like the original did in 1970. George contacted vintage Corvette expert Jan Hyde (www.registryofcorvetteracecars.com) for his advice. Jan recommended that George test the Corvette at the 2017 HSR (Historic Sports Car) Classic 24 Hour and Daytona Classic (www.hsrrace.com). George agreed and submitted his entry to the event. One final wrinkle, George needed a driver. He asked his friend and racing legend Dieter Quester if he would test the Corvette at Daytona and Dieter agreed. Next, he invited Randy Wittine, Gib Hufstader and Jan Hyde to join them at the Daytona event and they gladly accepted. The test was a success. Everyone associated with the project, including Wittine, Hufstader, Hyde and Haddad were a little misty eyed when the L88 was safely back in its trailer. The Fabulous Restoration team brought to life this amazing L88 replica that is a tribute to the historic winning Owens Corning Corvette team. Vette
Photos by Walt Thurn