Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I hadn't even heard that a James Garner L88 race Vette was up for auction

It didn't hit the reserve

the 22nd factory-production L88 ever built, the second built in the 1968 model year, and one of the first-ever L88s with "cabin heaters." Race-prepared in 1967/1968 by Guldstrand Engineering. Pole Winner, GT class, 1968 Daytona 24 Hours. The history of the three James Garner/American International Racing (AIR) cars is unique in automotive history. James Garner's AIR team sponsored three cars under one banner. The three cars were all new L88s. Three factory-built L88 cars left the St. Louis plant for delivery to James Garner's American International Racing (AIR) team in November 1967. These three LeMans Blue convertibles were the first 1968 production models featuring the new L88 engine with first-generation closed-chamber aluminum heads. Of course, the cars were all Central Office Production Orders (COPO) a system that provided for an incredible range of production specifications. These three cars sold to the AIR team were effectively part of GM's strategy to manage the release of its most powerful cars to a carefully controlled list of approved customers. The drivers were Dick Guldstrand, Bob McDonald (Herb Caplan's crew chief) and Perry Moore (a former Caplan employee). Although delivery was recorded as being at Fred Gledhill Chevrolet, it is much more likely that the cars drove directly to the first AIR shop in Culver City, just two doors down from Dick Guldstrand's new shop. As soon as the Garner cars were delivered, the engines were taken to Travers & Coons (TRACO) to be prepared for racing. Upon arrival at Daytona, the two cars out-qualified all other FIA competition in their class. As a result, the two AIR team cars filled out the front-row positions for their class at the start of the race. Unfortunately, endurance races are the true test of all things mechanical, so it may not have been a surprise that these new cars could not keep up the qualifying pace. The #45 car (driven by Scooter Patrick, Dave Jordan and Herb Caplan) dropped out with a blown head gasket. The #44 car (driven by Dick Guldstrand and Ed Leslie) suffered through numerous problems with the rear differential. After changing differentials four times in that race, the team finished 29th, well down the field.

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