Jones acquired his 1967 big-block coupe in 2006. “I had been restoring mid-year Corvettes for five or six years when I came across this car,” he says. Originally, he had found it for a customer of his following a year-long search. After being sold new through Seip Chevrolet in Chicago, Illinois, Sting Ray number 7095 had spent its life in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. It had been sitting since 1997, but was all there. “It was a low-miles car that was in very good original condition, with a stack of documentation,” says Jones. “It was a perfect candidate for restoration because of its originality.”
The paperwork included items like the original sales order, a copy of the buyer’s deposit, all of the original glove-box info and even the original key envelope. In addition, the Corvette had left the factory with a bevy of desirable options. There was a 435-horsepower L71 V8 under the stinger hood, a close-ratio M21 four-speed gearbox and factory-installed side-exit exhausts.
The customer that Jones was going to restore the car for changed his mind after seeing a ’65 that Jones had just completed. “He decided he didn’t want to wait two years for me to restore the ’67,” Jones explains. A deal was struck, the ’65 was sold and the ’67 remained his. “It was a special car and I was not going to let it go away and possibly fall into the hands of somebody that would do a ‘half-way’ restoration.”
The project began on the outside. “The exterior of the car was not too bad at all,” he says. Before any paint work was actually done, Jones re-fitted the body panels for better-than-original fit. “This results in a few points being deducted in judging, but the end result is a much better-looking car,” he says.
Next, he turned his attention to the paint. The car had been painted white after a fender bender when it was about four years old, and Jones thinks that it was repainted in its factory maroon shade around ’77 or ’78. “All three paintings—the original and two repaints—were done in lacquer,” he notes. Jones stripped the body down to the original factory primer, but stopped there. “There was no need to take it off as it has had 40 years to cure and it was in great condition,” he says. The accident-repair work was visible in the inner fender, so this was redone. Other than that and a small ding in the left rear corner, the body was perfectly straight.
Sourcing the correct Marlboro Maroon lacquer paint was the next hurdle that had to be overcome. “It turned out to be almost impossible to find a paint company that would custom tint lacquer paint to the same color we found on the fiberglass under the windshield and rear glass,” Jones recalls. Paint from these areas—which had never been exposed to light, and thus offered the truest sample—was compared to paint from various manufacturers. “The only paint system I was able to get to match the color we found was a DuPont two-stage base/clear system,” says Jones. “The original lacquer paint has a dull finish that needed to be polished for it to look good.”
This presented a problem, because a modern clear coat yields a much more shiny finish, even without color sanding. “This paint was finessed to give a more accurate look in the final finish of all areas of the car that would not have been buffed to a gloss,” says Jones. When pressed to explain what he means by “finessed,” he goes mum: “It’s a trade secret.”