Far away on our favorite island continent, there are rumors of a C3 Corvette so fierce that Australian citizens dare not utter its name. "It has the roar of a monster," some said. "Untameable," others cried. Our curiosity was piqued-we had to learn more of this petroleum-breathing Myliobatiforme (that's a stingray for you non-marine biologists). We contacted Matt James, a Transport Manager in Mount Pleasant, New South Wales, to learn of its origins. "Yes, the Yellow Tale Stingray exists," he tells VETTE, "and I alone have known its true history...until now."
James tells us that an inconspicuous '68 Stingray immigrated to Australia in 2000 after being sold by its owner, a female hairdresser in Las Vegas. "She had always wanted a red Corvette," he says. "And that's the way it arrived in Australia. But there are way too many red Corvettes in Oz. I decided this one needed to break tradition. It would become famous because of how different it looked. I chose yellow because all I could think about was how yellow looked best on a Corvette."
Like the car's previous owner, James had always wanted a Vette. "A friend of my family had just purchased a '68 big-block. I was at the traffic light when I heard this thing rumbling up towards me and flying straight past me," he says. "From that day forward, I knew I had to have a Corvette."
The resolute Aussie also knew exactly how he wanted his future sports car to look, and fate eventually brought a suitable candidate his way. "A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a group of Vette owners in my town," James says. "The fire in my belly for a Corvette got stronger and stronger. It was time to find one. After a few months of hopeless searching, I came across this '68 Stingray. It was in a horrible state of disrepair, but that didn't bother me, as I wanted to build a Vette the way I wanted one to look."
To prepare the Stingray for restoration, James took on the disassembly duties himself. He stripped the Vette's body to bare fiberglass and was taken aback when he found LeMans Blue was the first color sprayed over the original primer. "I had no idea it was a factory blue car," James reveals. "But when I checked the cowl tag, my suspicion was confirmed. My Corvette left the factory with Code 976 LeMans Blue paint and Code 411 Dark Blue vinyl interior. How it ended up in Australia [in] red with a black interior, I'll never know."
James then set his sights on the interior. "Because the cockpit was shabby, too, I stripped it with the mission of replacing every panel inside. After all, the only point in having a great paint job is if the interior can match it," he says.
Next on this weekend restorer's to-do list was the engine. "It didn't look any better than the shabby body, and that meant it had to go," James recalls. "When we pulled the motor out, we discovered two things: It had seen better days, and it was not the original motor. I saw no point spending money on it, or keeping it."
With his part of the project completed, James turned his Corvette over to Jason Cavenagh of Classic Fabrications in Wollongong, New South Wales, and asked him to create a custom work of art. Cavenagh found the fiberglass body a challenge. He had to focus special attention on the fitment of the fenders and doors, and he took many hours bullying the body panels until they lined up even better than they had on the assembly line. Then he worked the body with filler primer until it was laser straight, following with epoxy primer and a three-stage custom yellow paint produced by DeBeers. Finally, he made one modification to the original body. At James' request he painted and installed an L88 "Stinger" hood.