Hey, Spike! loves those Corvette Sting Rays
Corvette Sting Rays -you just gotta love ’em.
Recalling those Central High School days in Pueblo, Hey, Spike! remembers seeing the first one – a 1963 silver and red split window fastback – sitting in the Fortino Chevrolet showroom on Main Street.
And right here in Frisco, Arnie and Syd Yuen have a fully restored twin sitting in their Hawn Drive garage.
It’s silver and red and its license plate says it all: “6SPLT3.”
Arnie and his ‘vette are featured in the current Corvette Fever magazine with a story by Scott Ross and photos by Jerry Heasely.
As most around here know Summit County hosts 600-plus Corvettes every summer, with Old Main Street Frisco getting closed down for a day-long Sunday line-up.
This year’s edition, known as the Looking Glass Corvette Association’s 37th Annual Show and Shine, is set for Sunday, July 25.
Arnie has driven the prized auto in the show and it’s been in the Fourth of July Parade. He may again.
Locals know Arnie and Syd as the proud grandparents of Sara Kato, daughter of Bobby and Stephanie Kato, who own Tuscato and the Island Grill at Frisco Bay Marina, and co-own with the Starekow and Tuso families Copper’s Incline Club.
Here’s some of the Fever story:
“What do you call a Corvette that endured robust driving by its first two owners, then the ravages of tropical weather for over two decades?
“You’d call it what second owner Arnold Yuen calls it: ‘Beautiful!’
“Arnold discovered it while he was stationed at Amarillo (Texas) Air Force Base, a navigator in a B-52 crew assigned to the 461st Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command (SAC), US Air Force.
“While off-base one day in December 1963 at Plains Chevrolet in Amarillo, he and a buddy spotted something in the back of the dealer’s shop…’ What is this Corvette doing back there?’ he recalls. ‘One of the mechanics said, ‘That’s the service manager’s – he didn’t register it. He got too many speeding tickets with it, and he didn’t want the cops to find it, so he put it there.’
“After a talk with the Plains Chevrolet’s sales people, Arnold was the first registered and titled owner of a nearly-new Sting Ray, optioned with the RPO L76 340-horsepower 327, M20 four-speed, and J65 sintered-metallic brakes.
“Eventually, orders took Arnold to Vietnam and then to Hawaii, and he was accompanied by his beloved Sting Ray. Follow-on orders sent him (and by then, his family) to Japan and then to Germany. While on these assignments he chose to store his ’63 in Hawaii, at his father’s place.
“‘All he had was a carport,’ Arnold remembers. ‘I covered it up and said to my brother, ‘You can use it, but keep it in good shape.’ When he returned to Hawaii from Germany in the early ’80s, the semi-outdoor storage and Hawaii’s weather and climate had taken their toll on the Midyear. Seeing the car again for the first time in years, the family took note of the Corvette’s condition.
“My young daughter said, ‘Dad, you’ve got a plant growing in your car!’ Arnold says. ‘I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ She wasn’t – there were ferns growing inside the car in the rear right sidewall, below the window, plus standing water in the footwells; water and humidity had severely damaged the ‘vette’s interior.
Shortly after, while stationed at Travis AFB, between San Francisco and Sacramento), Arnie thought of replacing the ’63 with a similar one that he’d located in Phoenix.
“‘My kids said, ‘Dad, that’s the one that you played around in when you were a bachelor, it has fond memories for you. If you sell it now you may have regrets in the future. You should keep it and restore it; go ahead and get it fixed!'”
He did – and “6SPLT3” is great.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a resident of Summit County since 1982. He and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years.
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