It's easy to believe that the cooking gets better the farther south you go. But just wait until you travel south with us, all the way past the Equator to the Island Continent, and take a look at what has been described as "The Best C4 in All of Australia."
Raymond Doyle, of Shailer Park, Queensland, is the current steward of this mouth-watering Corvette. But it wasn't always this way. Raymond tells us his '90 Vette was ocean-freighted to Australia in the mid-'90s after its American owner lost interest following an engine-bay fire. (Sure, we know steak on the barbie is a tasty treat, but please, not on a Vette's intake manifold.)
Enter John Bondock, of Corvette Automotive in Brisbane, Queensland. Obsessed with unlocking the potential many Americans have forgotten the C4 Corvette has, Bondock has earned his living and his solid reputation by being Queensland's foremost expert on C4 conversions. According to Doyle, the praise for Bondock extends even further. "He may be the best converter of right-hand-drive C4s in Australia," Doyle says.
The first thing Bondock noticed was the extent of the fire damage underneath the Corvette's bonnet. Apparently, when the Australian importer asked for a well-done Vette, he got exactly what he ordered. Perhaps next time he should specify a "rare" one.
Bondock immersed himself in the C4 project. He was indefatigable, consumed. He replaced the Vette's blackened wiring harness and ECU with fresh components, and while he was at it, he fully rebuilt and restored the rest of the car to like-new condition. And as if that wasn't enough, he laboriously converted it to RHD.
The C4 was then sold to another Australian, "a guy heavily involved in computers," according to Doyle. Unfortunately, Aussie owner number two had little interest in enjoying the taste of the previously BBQ'd Vette, and the car fell into neglect. It was then that Doyle came to its rescue. "I heard it was for sale and sold our '89 Vette to buy it," he says. "It had been sitting from 1998 to 2003."
And that's when the process of preparing Australia's tastiest C4 really began.
Raymond Doyle makes his living in the automotive-paint business. He is the company representative of Hi Chem Auto Paint Tech, an Australian firm specializing in supplying color tints to domestic trade distributors and retail auto-body shops. Doyle tells us, "I am a 'panel beater' [autobody specialist] by trade, with many years of spray-painting experience. The paint work [on the '90] took nearly one year to complete. The underside of the bonnet took two guys six weeks, or 400 hours non-stop."
Asked about the recipe behind his Vette's piquant paint hue, Doyle says, "The paint on the car is Glazurit basecoat and clear. It is not a standard color...and only I have the formula. It is one-of-a-kind. The secret formula we sprayed was painstakingly wet-rubbed over many months. Sometimes we made our own rubbing blocks to get into awkward places."