Identifying a car can be a difficult task, and a Corvette L88 is not acceptable, the first thing to look at is the price of the car. Today, an L88 Corvette can easily cost $100,000 or more, and if you’ve located a Corvette for sale and the person selling the car represents it as an L88, and the price is low, “BEWARE” of a scam. Right off the bat, these are very rare and hard-to-find cars, and even a wrecked one can go for $30,000 or more.
Now down to the brass studs the first thing I would look at is the engine codes such as the RPO code and casting numbers to make sure the engine is an L88 however there are some tail signs please note that not all L88’s had the 3X2 carb option fitted, this was an add on known as the L71 tri-power option, now an L88 is a 427 CID engine, which normally comes with a single Holley 850 twin pump carb so just because just because you don’t see a tri-power setup on the car doesn’t mean it’s not an L88 427 car.
A real L88 Corvette is a rare find, so you can feel lucky if you find one, there was also the L89 aluminum head option available, which would shave 75lbs off the car’s front end weight, if you’re lucky enough that the because you plan to buy has a build sheet, you can tell exactly what the car came from the factory with, but again, this is a rare find in the world of classic cars.
On the engine, the RPO code is located on a machined pad in front of the passenger side head, the RPO will tell you what year the engine was made, what engine it is, and usually what transmission was connected to the engine. reveal which manufacturing plant built the engine, the casting number will also tell you what year the engine is, how many main caps it has and the horsepower of the engine, with the professional code you should look closely because people have been known to machine and re stamp these numbers, if the RPO code doesn’t match the casting number in any way, be very careful about the deal you’re about to make, ask lots of questions.
When deciphering the RPO code on the front of the engine, it helps to know how to read the stampings. This is a typical reading for an RPO code from 1957 – 69.
1) The first digit represents the plant in which the engine was manufactured
2) The next two digits represent the month the engine was manufactured
3) The next two represent the day the engine was built.
4) The last two are the suffix code
The suffix code is what will tell you what engine the car has and what options it has, below is a list of the codes for the 427 engine.
Power Transmission Options Suffix Code
390 4 speed, hydraulic lifters, special cam, 4BBL IL carb
390 4 speed, hydraulic lifters, special cam, 4BBL carb, AIR IM
390 Powerglide, hydraulic lifters, special cam, 4BBL IQ
390 Powerglide, hydraulic lifters, special cam, 4BBL, AIR IR
400 4 speed, L36 engine, 3X2 JC carburetors
400 Powerglide, L36 engine, 3X2 JD carburetors
400 4 speed, L36 engine, 3X2 carbs, AIR JF
400 Powerglide, L36 engine, 3X2 carbs, AIR JG
430 M22 4 speed, 4BBL, IT high performance special chamber
435 4 speed, 3X2 carbs, L71 engine, IU aluminum heads
435 4 speed, mechanical lifters, 3X2 carbs, AIR JA
435 4 speed, mechanical lifters, 3X2 JE carburetors
435 4 speed, L71 engine, 3X2 carb, aluminum heads, AIR JH