Here's a wedding budget most of us would love to see:
James Deguara, of St. Clair, Australia, may be a truck driver by trade, but he's a Corvette devotee by choice. And when it came time to budget his daughter's wedding, he put one thing at the top of the list: a Corvette.
Corvettes have always made great wedding presents, but this particular Vette wasn't meant for the bride. Rather, it was Dad's gift to himself. "I had wanted a Corvette since I was 15 years old," Deguara tells VETTE. "I love the look and shape of the car."
Deguara arranged to purchase an migr '80 coupe for $19,500. The Vette was painted in the obligatory shade of red, but beyond that, it needed its fair share of work. "I was so happy to have the Corvette," he says, "but we had the wedding to pay for, so I could not afford the restoration."
Restoration or no, Deguara was determined to have his new C3 represented at his daughter's wedding. He called upon two of his friends in the New South Wales Corvettes Unlimited Club, and together, the three made their Vettes an integral part of the proceedings. "[The three cars] were used as bridal cars in the wedding party. The three bridesmaids rode in them," Deguara says, adding that the car-themed ceremony proved a huge success.
With the wedding over, Deguara decided it was time to tackle another epochal event: the process of refurbishing the car. The work began in 2004, but this painstaking labor of love would not come to fruition until approximately 18 months later.
"The Corvette was stripped down to its bare chassis and rebuilt from bottom up," Deguara says. "The burgundy paint was supplied by DuPont and sprayed by Amazing Paints, in Blacktown, Sydney." After applying the final wet-sand to the clearcoat, Deguara commissioned Sydney-based Advanced Airbrush to spray the underside of the hood with a rendering of a shell-clad woman riding a shark. "The shark in the mural represents the '80 Corvette shark," Deguara says. "I also added a bonnet scoop of my own choosing."
Deguara envisioned abundant health and beauty for his C3, so he replaced its original motor with a 383 crate engine from Bob Rae Engineering. The iron-block stroker features a forged-steel crank turning Bullet Proof connecting rods and Ross forged slugs. The Edelbrock hydraulic roller camshaft boasts 222/232-degree duration, 0.509/0.509-inch lift, and a 114-degree lobe-separation angle. GM pushrods activate Comp 1.7-ratio roller rockers, which compress stock valve springs and actuate 2.00/1.55 valves. Along with a set of hand-ported iron heads, the combo serves up a pump-gas-friendly compression ratio of 9.0:1.
Fuel is delivered by a Holley mechanical fuel pump, which feeds a Rochester 830-cfm carburetor mounted atop an Edelbrock polished-aluminum intake. Spark comes from an AC Delco HEI distributor and is delivered through custom-made Thunder Cords 10mm wires and Magnacore High Resolution plugs. Exhaust exits through ceramic-coated Pro Stock headers and travels aft through 3-inch sidepipes with built-in mufflers.
The transmission is a GM 700-R4 automatic equipped with an electronic lock-up torque converter. Deguara built the rearend himself, using a Dana unit and a 3.08 gear set. Single-leaf carbon-fiber rear springs abet handling, while a Ford LTD steering box, designed by Advanced Steering Suspension, of Arndel Park, Sydney, improves directional response. For an added feeling of safety, Deguara replaced all of the car's mechanical and electrical parts, right down to the wiring.
This Vette's interior is also Deguara's design. He customized the C3 with leather-clad door panels inset with Bowtie emblems, plush pile carpet, Autometer gauges, an Alpine CD head unit, a Chevy Revision "bowtie" rearview mirror, and a woodgrain steering wheel. The car was given new designer threads, too, in the form of doeskin seat covers adorned with Corvette callouts. Bob's Auto Trim, of Blacktown, Sydney, handled the interior work.
The Vette's factory aluminum wheels gave way to a set of 15x8-inch Australian-made Dragway rims dressed in upsized Firestone Firehawk 255/60-15 (front) and 275/60-15 (rear) rubber. Braking force is generated by stock GM calipers gripping hard-compound pads and slotted rotors supplied by Race Brakes Sydney.
Deguara tells us he became lonely during the Vette's restoration, and this isolation drove him to pursue a brief affair with another partner. He brought home a black '81 coupe to drive to car shows and club events while his first C3 was away, but the infatuation didn't last. When the '80 was finally returned to him, Deguara sold the '81 to a friend in the NSW Corvettes Unlimited Club. "I didn't want my '80 to think I was cheating on it," he explains.
Since the car's completion, Deguara has displayed it at a number of Corvette shows throughout eastern Australia. The customized C3 has earned a stockpile of trophies, as the following partial list will attest:
Corvette Classic, Sydney
First Place, Modified Class
Corvette Convention, Melbourne
Runner-up, Modified Class
Show and Shine, Bellavista
First Place, Modified Class
Corvettes at Fox
First Place, Modified Class
New South Wales Corvettes
First Place, Observation Run
NSW Corvettes Unlimited Show and Shine, Bellavista
Second Place, Modified Class
In addition to participating on the show circuit, Deguara enjoys propelling his Vette down the quarter mile, where it has run a very respectable 12.9-second e.t. He even drives this pristine showpiece on the street, where it racks up around 185 miles each week.
"Both my wife and I feel much pride and satisfaction when our car is admired," Deguara says. "The restoration was like a lifelong dream come true for me. I never in my wildest dreams thought it could be restored to the standard it was."
If Deguara ever takes part in another wedding, his stunning C3 will be more than ready to strike a pose for the photographer. In fact, his main challenge this time around may involve freeing up room in the budget for another Corvette.