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1964 Chevrolet Corvette - Fiery Fuelie

Gino Irvello’s VetteRod is a rolling conflagration

Scott Ross Mar 16, 2011
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There are four choices Corvette builders are faced with if the car they're looking at is less than complete.

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They can restore it to factory-new condition—if they can find the parts needed to make the car complete. They can part it out, (hopefully) recouping their investment from the piecemeal sale of the partial car that's taking up a full space in their garage or shop. They can find someone with the requisite desire, time, parts stash, and funds to take it off their hands.

Or they can build it their way, without worrying about originality. That's what Gino Irvello did with the '64 Sting Ray coupe you see here.

Irvello bought a less-than-complete midyear for this project, starting with little more than the original fiberglass body and its steel-reinforcing "birdcage," along with the frame. He had King's Chassis Shop in Broomall, Pennsylvania, add a new stock front suspension and a four-link rear. Into the wheelwells went a set of Genuine Boyd's billet wheels shod with Mickey Thompson tires (with big ET Drag Radials in back).

Then came the big-block. Not just any Mark IV Chevy V-8, but the biggest The General had to offer—the 572-cube GM Performance Parts crate engine. For many VetteRod builders, one of these mountain motors with a big four-barrel carburetor on top would be plenty, given the factory ratings of 620 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. But Irvello had other ideas, ones that included giving it the power (and looks) to match the blown-and-injected '69 Camaro that was already at home in his Havertown, Pennsylvania, garage.

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He called up Kinsler and had the FI specialists build a "Dragon Claw" fuel-injection system for the 572. To spark the air/fuel mixture coming out of the Kinsler setup, he chose an Accel DFI 77063 ignition system, and King's was called on to custom-fabricate the headers and exhausts. Backing the 572 is an ATI-prepped Turbo 400, shifted by a Precision Performance shifter.

Inside, the cabin received plenty of attention—once the rollcage went in. Pro Auto in Philadelphia did the interior work, adding Auto Meter gauges to the original dash, a Budnik steering wheel, and Tenzo Racing sport seats. One thing the company left out: a dash-mounted sound system. With the sound of the injected 572 through the custom tube headers and exhausts, who needs anything else?

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Outside, the C2's vintage fiberglass was prepped for paint in Irvello's shop (Pro Auto Body, Philadelphia) before the black PPG basecoat went on. Once that was done, Killer Creations—also of Philly—airbrushed the fire effects on the hood, fenders, and flanks. (Why paint mere flames when you can have fire?) Once that was dry, the body was cleared, and it was time for final assembly.

Like any Corvette project, a lot of time and money went into this one. One look at the results shown here tells you that Irvello made the right choice when he started on this project.



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