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1961 Chevrolet Corvette - The Fiberglass Bug

Once you're bitten, there's no cure

PJ Rentie Apr 1, 2000
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The fiberglass bug can strike at any time, and can be caused by just about anything. It could be that time you were standing on a corner and heard the sweet-sounding exhaust note emanating from a '63 fuelie. Or maybe the time that a '70 LT-1 Corvette made you eat the shaker scoop on your buddy's Cobra Jet Mustang? It's moments like these that make one realize he's been bitten by the fiberglass bug.

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Harry Fedoryk of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, was bitten at an early age. Growing up in New York, his older brother, Ronnie, introduced him to Corvettes by flaunting a lightning-fast '56 in front of him. So right after Harry graduated from high school in 1962 (oops, am I giving away his age?), he purchased his first Corvette: a black '56 with a red interior. Where do most 18-year old Vette owners end up? Either in trouble with the law or at the local drag strip, in this case Westhampton Drag Strip in Long Island. After a few tweaks here and there, Harry was running consistently enough that he won a total of six trophies in the two years he owned the '56. He then bought brother Ronnie's '59 Vette in 1964 and continued to terrorize the drag racers, running a best e.t. of 12.7 at 107 mph. Unfortunately, the breakout of the Vietnam war caused him to be drafted into the Marines in 1968 and Harry was forced to sell his pride and joy.

While he fulfilled his tour of duty, he never lost sight of his goal of one day owning another Corvette. He went so far as to tell his Marine buddies that his license plate would read VET-USMC. When Harry finally got home from Southeast Asia, it didn't take long for the fiberglass bug to bite again. Over the following years, Harry attempted to recapture the magic of his first two Vettes by first purchasing a '65 coupe that he didn't keep for very long, and a few years later, a '65 roadster that he had to sell after owning it for about a year.

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Harry took a break from owning Corvettes for a while, but, like many viruses, the fiberglass bug remained within his system. In 1986, shortly after moving to Pennsylvania with his son, Harry spotted a basket case '61. The dilapidated solid-axle reminded him of his younger days and those good times at the Westhampton Drag Strip. Needless to say, the long-dormant fiberglass bug awoke and bit him-hard. Before he knew it, Harry had bought the roadster and began its resurrection.

Over the period of about a year, Harry disassembled what was left of the roadster down to a rolling chassis and painstakingly began its rebuild. On the freshly painted frame, Harry hung the rebuilt stock suspension and added a set of Traction Masters traction bars. Although the stock 283 would have been enough for most people, Harry wanted the extra torque of more cubic inches-so a '68-vintage 350 was dropped between the fresh framerails. Its power output was further enhanced with the addition of a Holley intake and carburetor, and a selection of chrome dress-up items were added for looks. The engine is backed by the original four-speed equipped with a Hurst shifter and the power is fed to the stock 4.56:1-geared Posi rearend.

Turning to the body, Harry stripped off the remains of several paint jobs, right down to the fiberglass, and took the shell of the '62 to E&Z Auto Body in Hamlin, Pennsylvania, where they applied six coats of Roman Red, accented with white coves. For the interior work, Harry ordered a complete stock replacement interior kit, in OEM-style black vinyl, from Al Knoch Corvette Interiors, and installed it at home. A set of vintage Cragar SS wheels finish things off the exterior, and the topper is a personalized license plate reading: VET-USMC.

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With the car finished (for now), Harry is taking it easy and enjoying the fruits of his labor. After all, resurrecting a seriously wasted old Corvette is hard work. "I never did so much work to one car in my life." Harry commented. His future plans are to add a set of headers and a scattershield so he safely can take it for some trips down the 1320. And sometime in the far distant future, he may treat the flashy '61 to a complete frame-off restoration.

With the future work Harry has planned, we can't help but wonder if he really has time to enjoy his Corvette. He does so, however, by adding to his Vette's collection of trophies and plaques. And the biggest reward comes each time he cruises around town on a sunny Saturday afternoon and people he doesn't even know give him the "thumbs up." Once the fiberglass bug bites you, you're infected for life. It's not a bad way to go.



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