When you're in the automotive business, it's easy to develop a penchant for project cars. That's definitely true in the case of Brian Fijolek, who owns Brian's Automotive in Olympia, Washington. Still, when a customer came in one day and asked if anyone was looking for a convertible project, Fijolek wasn't interested initially. He had already restored a number of GM convertibles in the past and wasn't really up for another resto just yet. But when the customer added that the vehicle in question was a '64 Corvette roadster, Fijolek decided to check it out. Although it had been stored in a woodpile for the past 10 years, the car's body was straight, all the numbers matched, and it still had some of the original black paint on it, albeit peeled and chipped.
Fijolek bought the Vette for $10,000, brought it to his shop, and-with the help of friends Mike Longo, Travis Moore, and the Brian's Automotive team-got it back on the street in just 6 months. Having owned other vehicles equipped with suspension air bags, Fijolek decided to add a set of Air Lift bags under all four corners, including the Corvette's IRS. Air Lift's Bill Dermond fabricated all of the brackets and performed the installation.
Getting the air system to work meant that the rear half-shafts would need to be narrowed and the rear leaf spring removed. The complete system features big-bore 3/8-inch lines and an onboard air pump and tank. It's operated by an Air Lift four-function remote pocket module designed by Dermond in the Air Lift R&D department.
After Vince Ryland removed all the paint from the fiberglass body, Fijolek enlisted Tacoma-area concept artist Jason Rushforth (www.jasonrushforth.com) to create with a new, more modern paint design. Travis Moore helped Keith Van Auken and Mike Longo straighten the body, after which Van Auken applied the beautiful PPG silver and black paint separated by horizontal purple and blue graphics. With that done, the crew at Brian's powdercoated the chassis components before rejoining the body and frame.
With so many original-spec aftermarket parts available, Fijolek had no trouble finding everything he needed to get the Corvette back in pristine condition. Many of those items came from Corvette America, Pacific Corvette, and other Vette-specific parts vendors, particularly the parts used in the interior and underhood restorations. Jamie White finished off the cabin by reupholstering the seats in black leather.
Fijolek's next task was restoring the numbers-matching 327 to its original 365hp condition using 11:1 pistons and 2.02/1.60-inch valves. Hardened valve seats by Johnson's Machine in Olympia allow the small-block to acquiesce to a diet of premium no-lead gas. The original four-speed trans was deemed sufficiently stout and left in place.
Fijolek chose Billet Specialties 17-inch wheels and BFG Scorcher Blue tires to make the car appear even lower than it is (an incredible 47 inches from the top of the windshield to the ground when the bags are lowered). The result is a radical custom look that only enhances the C2's sharply creased lines. For this Corvette, "laying it down" was always part of the plan.