1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Roadster - The Leviathan

This Motion-built L88 Roadster Brutalizes All Other Contenders

Kevin Shaw Nov 1, 2006 0 Comment(s)
Corp_0611_11_z 1968_chevy_corvette_l88_roadster_leviathan Rear_view 2/17

In this condition, the Phase III was sold to Bow Tie enthusiast, restorer, and collector, Dave Belk from Davenport, Iowa. It was Dave and his wife, Leanne, who helped bring this car back together. As investigations turned up empty-handed, Dave and Leanne opted to vie for an identical L88 that would befit their Phase III. Their labors proved fruitful as Thomas Billigen offered them the sale of a Yenko-built L88 pulled years earlier from his '68 COPO-clone Camaro. Thomas purchased the crate engine from Yenko Chevrolet in 1970, lowering it into his '68 F-Body for the sole purpose of dominating the local 1320. Thomas must have gotten his fill, because a year later, the Camaro and its unrivaled powerplant were sold off. The L88 would be pulled from the Camaro, bagged, stored, uncovered, and rebuilt by late drag racing engine aficionado, D.A. Santucci of Glen Willard, Pennsylvania. The big-block was never commissioned for service and remained untouched for the following 25 years. The L88 would be dusted off again and dropped back into the same Camaro in 2001, where it would trade hands once again. Two years later, Thomas would be reunited with his long-lost '68 and the same monster powerplant. Since Thomas still had the original engine from the engine swap in 1970, he decided to sell the lightweight contender to the Belks. Dave Belk happily snatched up the L88 and sent it off to Dave Hoskins of D&R Engines in Marion, Iowa. There the engine would be put through the ranks, totally disassembled, blueprinted, and reassembled in the best likeness of the orginal mill that the craftsmen at Motion Performance built. Well, almost. Dave snuck in an aggressive Crane bumpstick, lifters, and taut valvesprings, along with high-flow Hooker headers, an Edelbrock Tarantula single-plane intake, and a Holley 780 double-pumper in lieu of the original three-barrel. Hoskins would dyno tune the L88 to an astounding 700 hp with nothing but its own will and determination-no nitrous, no power-adders, all motor. Along with the engine rebuild, the roadster was carefully restored, along with changing the rear gear to a more street accommodating 3.73 ratio.

Corp_0611_12_z 1968_chevy_corvette_l88_roadster_leviathan Front_view 3/17

Before the Corvette would be debuted at the 2004 Forge Muscle Car Show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, shortly after the restoration's completion, Dave had Joel Rosen himself certify the Phase III's authenticity. Joel verified that the roadster was built after the car's sale and not a purchased vehicle through Baldwin Chevrolet; making it only the latter half of a Baldwin/Motion Chevrolet. Since the unveiling of the super uncommon '68 roadster it has graced the pages of several other periodicals, showcasing its heritage for hundreds of thousands of readers and subscribers. Within the short banner year, Dave also had the Corvette professionally appraised. The fair market value ranked upwards to a clean quarter of a million dollars. Dana Mecum of Mecum Auctions then bought the car from Dave. Dana apparently only owned the car a short time.

Corp_0611_13_z 1968_chevy_corvette_l88_roadster_leviathan Engine_view 4/17

That is where the car's current owner, J.C. Cherry, comes in. The Dallas, Texas, resident paid an undisclosed sum to Mecum and took the Phase III home to join his other Vettes, which include a '57, a '68, a '90 ZR-1, a '99 Callaway, and an '01 Z06 race car. J.C. expressed his love for this car to Corvette Fever, stating the L88 is now happily driven nearly as much as it's shown at national and local events.

For being one of the single most enigmatic and beastly Corvettes to be produced, it's reaffirming to know that it's alive and well and still terrorizing the competition in the great state of Texas.




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