1969 Corvette ZL-1 Auctions for $3.14 Million

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It’s the third-highest price ever publicly paid for a Corvette…

On January 26, at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona event, a rare 1969 Chevy Corvette ZL-1 was auctioned off for a whopping $3.14 million, making it the third most expensive Corvette ever. sold in public. The classic American sports car was in the spotlight even before the auction started, thanks to its impressive display, rarity and the fact that it’s considered a myth among Corvette devotees.

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Few went for the RPO ZL-1 option in 1969 because it made a Corvette more than twice as expensive, a high price even for enthusiasts. However, the compromise was a punchy V8 derived from the CanAm race engine, only the L88 was street legal but rated at 560 horsepower. According to GM records, only two of these cars were assembled at the St. Louis plant and delivered to customers, but this is the only convertible.

The story is that the original owner, racer John W. Maher of Leechburg, Pennsylvania, had to pull strings to even get the car. While FIA/NHRA homologation was technically offered to the public, GM was unwilling to actually hand it over to enthusiasts.

A number of arrangements had to be put in place just to produce this car, which was probably part of the reason GM tried to prevent this from happening. All internal memos, approvals and engineering change recommendations are well documented, making for a fascinating story.

Once in Maher’s hands, this 1969 Corvette ZL-1 was used by Maher to dominate autocross events, drag races and hill climbs throughout western Pennsylvania. The reputation of the driver and the sports car grew, but Maher eventually put the car away, not to be returned to public view until 1989.

Throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century, Maher used the ZL-1 in a number of competitions and exhibitions, winning an impressive number of awards. Then, in 2007, Maher sold the monstrous classic sports car to the party that presented it at this year’s RM Sotheby’s auction in Arizona. That’s why so many people were rushing to own this one-of-a-kind 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1 convertible, driving the price to a high position. Some might never live to see it cross the bidding block again.

See the list of bundles here.

Images via RM Sotheby’s

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