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The Right Stuf

Skin deep is just the start...

Drew Hardin Jul 21, 2005
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It's rare to see the words "outrageous custom paint" and "driver" usedto describe the same car.

The two terms are fairly exclusive. Most whodrop serious coin on a make-you-stop-and-stare paint job aren't braveenough to risk said paint by--gasp--putting it on the road and in harm'sway.

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The Stuf Products Vette rolls on BFGoodrich g-Force KDW tires and WeldEvo rims--18s in front, 20s in back. Through the spokes, you can see thehybrid brake system, which consists of Baer EradiSpeed rotors andStainless Steel Brakes three-piston calipers.

Then again, most who go for the outlandish paint schemes don't havethe same resources as Dean Fueroghne. Name ring a bell? He's the manbehind Stuf Products, which means he has a veritable arsenal of beautysupplies at hand in case his '99 Vette gets grimed on the way to a show.

And by that we don't mean the putt-putt to the local burger joint for aFriday night cruise, though he's probably done that more than a fewtimes. No, by "driver" we mean that Dean has piloted his flamed Corvettehundreds of miles from Stuf's Pasadena, California, headquarters toplaces like the SEMA show in Las Vegas and to a Goodguys event in DelMar, down San Diego way. He also drove it to our photo shoot location,which meant about an hour of freeway time, followed by seriouslypotholed side streets and a graded dirt road or two. Didn't faze him onebit. Whenever we stopped, he'd just get out and, joined by businesspartner Lesley Kays, wiped the car with Final Stuf detailing spray.(Lesley, it turns out, has a serious cleaning jones. While Wes wastaking pictures of Dean's stunt driving, she'd attack the criminallyoxidized chrome wheels on Wes' van to try to get them shiny again.Eventually she gave up, but not until all four rims had at least alittle sheen around the salt pitting.)

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The Magnuson twin-screw supercharger sits on an intercooler that'sintegrated with the intake manifold. Boost levels and timing vary withthe traction control settings; with the traction control switched on, it"feels like a stock engine, only louder," reports Stuf's Dean Fueroghne.Switch it off and you get the benefit of the engine's 600-plus horsesand more than 500 lb-ft of torque. "It's a good idea to leave thetraction control on," admits Dean. "It's easy to get in over your headpretty quickly with it off."

Dean has owned this Vette sinceit was new. It's his tenth Corvette, and he can trace his love affairwith America's sports car back to when he was little and his olderbrother owned a blue and white '53. Dean used his '99 as transportationfor a number of years, until he realized that his growing car carecompany could use its own promotional vehicle.

The car was originallyblack, and Dean's initial plan was to go the subtle route: pearl purpleover fresh black paint, with purple and black ghost flames. "But youcouldn't see it," Lesley said of the tint and graphics. "It wasessentially a black car, and it didn't work as a show car."

So, inApril, 2004, Dean started over. Illustrator Jason Hulst rendered a freshvision for the Vette that retained the old-school flame design but in ayellow-to-orange fade over metallic purple. Dean enlisted Mike Face'sCustom Paint in San Bernardino, California, to strip the old paint andshave the Vette of every emblem, save the lettering between thetaillights. Before executing Hulst's color scheme, Face also 'glassed inACI rear brake ducts and front bumper winglets, and custom-fit the ACIhigh-rise hood to the car.

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Air for the Magna Charger moves through this AFE dual-flow intake kit.

Why was hood fitting necessary? Beforestarting the bodywork, Dean decided to add some driveline beef to hisVette in the form of an intercooled Magnuson supercharger. Thecombination of the intercooler (which is integrated with the intakemanifold) and the Magna Charger's twin-screw case required ataller-than-stock hood, which is what led Dean to the ACI piece in thefirst place. But cracks in the hood's fresh paint were evidence that theblown small-block's rumble was making contact with the bulge, so Mikehad to perform some custom 'glass work to provide the necessaryclearance.

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Yes, the Magna Charger system for the LS1 is 50-state smog legal.

The Magna Charger pumped up the LS1's output by more than 150hp on the chassis dyno, but Dean wasn't quite finished yet. He replacedthe stock exhaust system with Billy Boat stainless steel Tri-Flo headersand pipes, which, when coupled with some choice tuning tricks,ultimately pushed the Vette's output to over 600 horses and more than500 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Ask Dean how he likes the powerplantand the former drag racer (fuel altereds and early Funny Cars back inthe day) smiles. "On the way to Vegas I was going about 65 mph in Fourthgear, stood on it, and completely broke the tires loose," he says.

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At the other end of the power equation is a Billy Boat stainless-steelheader and exhaust system, feeding these stainless trumpets.

Thetires Dean was burning down weren't junk either: BFGoodrich g-Force KDWsmounted to Weld Evo 705 Axis II rims. West Coast Corvettes gets thecredit for lowering the Vette's suspension by more than 31/2 inches,while Hrant Auto Service in Pasadena helped sort out the rest of thechassis and install the brakes--a hybrid system that uses BaerEradiSpeed rotors and Stainless Steel Brakes three-piston calipers infront, and Z06 calipers clamping the Baer rotors in back.

All theengine, powertrain, and chassis work was completed before Dean took thecar to Mike Face for paint. Once Mike had the hood and other body piecesin place, he shot the car with House of Kolor paints starting with aPavo Purple metallic base coat. Striper Lil' Louie masked off the ghostflames, which started life as a silver metallic base coat on top of thePavo Purple. Next, the whole car was shot with purple candy to give itits light purple/dark purple effect. Lil' Louie then came back to maskoff the traditional flames, which are built on a white base coat andconsist of Sunrise Yellow on the nose, fading to Sunset Yellow and thento Tangelo at the flame ends. Lil' Louie pinstriped the flames--darkpurple on the ghost licks, red on the brighter ones--and then the wholecar was treated to no fewer than 10 coats of clear to give it anultra-smooth, miles-deep finish.

As we talked to Dean, he explainedthat, a year after the upgrades began, the Vette is still a work inprogress. The interior is virtually untouched, and he's trying to figureout what to do in there. He's got his work cut out for him if he thinkshe can top this car's gorgeous exterior.



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