The Fourth of July may not be celebrated outside of the US, but an appreciation of American muscle knows no bounds; join us this week as we take a rumbly ride in Mathieu Houtreille’s crisp Ermine White 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray through the back roads surrounding Luxembourg, Belgium.
Like many of us, Mathieu grew up under a gearhead’s roof. His father, Jean-Luc Houtreille, ensured he raised his son properly. “Ever since I learned to walk, my dad took me to all the car affairs,” Mathieu tells, “I would see the mechanics work under warm hoods, and the smell that emerged would captivate me.” A natural-born car-obsessed boy, where his father leaned towards the Italian marques, Mathieu differed, oddly falling for old American steel and iron.
Mat says, “For me, the monsters that gave me goose bumps were the ones with massive V8s and a thunderous sound coming out of their tailpipes. That’s what I loved.” Forever longing for Detroit muscle, a trip with his wife stateside sealed his fate with Corvettes. Referring to this excursion, Mat clarifies, “It is a country with a lot of wide-open spaces. It is magical, and you can’t understand unless you’ve been there, and taken those roads, because you can’t describe it [otherwise].”
Learning of the ‘50s and ‘60s American car culture’s love of machine as well as its street racing scene, Mat realized this era was a special time that no longer exists, admitting that oftentimes, “If you tell people you hand-wash your car and you love your car, they will think you’re dumb.” The sad truth is, most people view that mentality as outdated, but not Mathieu of course.
Call it born in the wrong country in the wrong generation if you want, but we prefer to regard Mathieu’s passion a dying romance we’re happy to see still has a heart with a strong pulse. After wheeling a C3 for a while, his appreciation for the earlier C2 Stingray turned into an obsession. “I had to acquire one of those sacred monsters,” Mathieu says, determined, “my love for the C2 grew. With its perfect aesthetics, it is the epitome of the mid-‘60s.”
After seeing a flawlessly restored C2 in the flesh at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas, Mat’s desire for his own Stingray only continued moving from want to need, and he was lucky enough to find an ad a few months later for an Ermine White 1965 model—his preferred color. With a friend accompanying him to see the car, they arrived to the seller’s town. “It smelled of dreams,” Mat says smiling, “It smelled so good.” The seller turned out to be an avid car collector with a multi-story garage full of classic goodies. “The door opened, and I saw cars everywhere.”
Suppressing his excitement as to not get his hopes up too high for the Corvette in question, Mat smirks, “It was time for a test drive.” Too intimidated to drive the car initially, Mat turned down the seller’s offer and insisted on riding shotgun. A drive post-rainfall through forested roads at 110 miles per hour was all the conviction Mathieu really needed, but the step-off of the accelerator which summoned vicious backdraft pops and bangs was the final verdict: this was going to be the one.