On January 16, a unique 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 convertible will be unveiled at RM Sotheby’s auction in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Monaco Orange convertible is the only one of its kind. It was one of only two factory-record ZL-1 cruisers built for 1969, and the only convertible to receive the ZL-1 treatment, an option that added a race-derived 427 cubic inch V to the C3 -8 engine ‘Vette.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible (Photo via RM Sotheby’s)

The ZL-1’s 427 was based on the L88 engine, with an aluminum block and heads, the latter featuring an “open chamber” design for increased power, and a redesigned and enhanced engine internals. Based on the engine used in Can Am race cars, GM offered the ZL-1 option for homologation purposes, with no real intention of selling any road cars to customers.

The $4,718 price tag (of which $3,000 is the ZL-1 package itself) helps deter customers from checking the ZL-1 box on their order, which is more than double the cost of a base 1969 Corvette. In addition to the engine, buyers get power-assisted heavy-duty brakes, heavy-duty suspension, and a Positraction limited-slip differential. The ZL-1 doesn’t come with the creature comforts available on the smaller Corvette, such as heater, air conditioning, radio, and power steering.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible (Photo via RM Sotheby's)

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible (Photo via RM Sotheby’s)

That’s good for John W. Maher of Leachburg, PA, who received the car on December 30, 1968. He intended to race a Corvette and continued to compete in various hill climbs, autocross and drag races until 1972 in western Pennsylvania.

Maher took the ZL-1 out of storage in 1989, restored it, and continued to drive and demonstrate it before finally selling the car in 2007. The ZL-1 has since been fully restored, earning the Bloomington Gold certification that Corvette collectors covet, but still has its original engine. Based on its rarity, documented history, and quality of restoration, RM Sotheby’s expects the ZL-1 to fetch $2.6 million to $3 million at auction. That’s not too much for rare Corvette variants like the later ZR2 convertible, which remain collector’s favorites.

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