Ed Stephens is not a newcomer to the custom car world. His first custom car was in 1965-a '64 Corvair with shaved door handles and other custom tricks. Wanting more power to go with his custom modifications, he would eventually turn to a '58 Chevy with a 348-inch motor and, later, a '79 Corvette with a turbocharged 350 (where Ed made the complete turbo system, including the intake manifold as there were no bolt-on turbo kits available at that time).
Ed has worked for Oldsmobile experimental engineering department as an automotive mechanic for 32 years and seven years before that in GM dealerships, which makes him very comfortable around cars. Wanting a car no one else had, Ed chose the V8Archie Fino because he felt no other car on the road looks like it. He felt it had the look of a Lotus from the '50s or '60s and, in fact, Peter Ashdown, a Lotus factory sports car driver during the '50s, designed the Fino. Ed drove to Barrington, Illinois, to look at the two demo cars V8Archie had, the Finale and Fino. After sitting in the driver's seat of the Fino, he was sold.
Archie, the owner of V8Archie, personally delivered the Fino body on Jan. 9, 2002. Ed removed all of the body panels and replaced both the front and rear suspension with pieces from Held Motorsports, which also included a new steering gear and stabilizer bar. The factory brakes were used, except stainless-steel lines were used instead of the original rubber hoses. For stopping, Ed would rely on cross-drilled and slotted rotors and selected Enkei RS6 17x7 wheels wrapped with Nitto NT 555 225/40ZR-17 tires.
Installation of the body is not just a bolt-on job and being that Ed is a mechanic, his bodyshop skills were challenged. Ed learned a great deal of information to be able to fit the body seamlessly and make it look like a production built car. The only change made to the kit's styling was the addition of the center exhaust, which meant he needed to cut 12 inches off the bottom of the trunk to make room for the new pipes. That also meant he needed to fabricate a new floor in the trunk and rework the rear lower fiberglass valance, too.
After Ed installed the body and completed the fit and finish of the car, Kevin Personious of KP Autobody (St. Johns, MI) took many hours to finesse the body to perfection before covering it with PPG Mandarin Orange Metallic. Gary Floate of Custom Designs (St. Johns, MI) followed with the flame (a silver-blue ghost effect) and snake design before the final clear coat was applied.
The interior is finished in a black color using PISA's wraparound dash, euro door panels, and leather seats. The black headliner, sun visors, and area behind the seats all had to be made using headliner material from the local fabric store.
Stephens felt the original 2.8L V-6 engine was very tired and needed replacing. Ed found it safer to have Bob Steiger of Twin Lakes Auto (Paxton, IL) install a rebuilt '95 Firebird 3.4L V-6 with an '88 Fiero automatic transmission equipped with a lower gear ratio for quicker starts during acceleration. The engine is bored .030 over, and received new pistons, a performance cam, 17-pound injectors, larger valves, and a powdercoated intake system. The engine and trans combo allows Ed to record a 0-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds while the quarter-mile takes just 14.7 seconds.
The project was started in February of 2002 and debuted at the Detroit AutoRama one year later, where it took first place in the Full Sports class. For Ed, the biggest compliment is when people see the car and believe it to be a production vehicle, right off the factory assembly lines. What's worse is when they say, "If this is a stock car, why is it in the modified class? Show me where any changes have been made to it." One person asked, "What has been modified on this car?" Ed hesitated and said, "Well, the gas tank was removed to install a new fuel pump but was reinstalled. But everything else I can think of has been removed and replaced with different parts." At 58 years old, Ed Stephens is very happy with his creation and couldn't have imagined it to have turned out any better than it did.
Ed StephensSaint Johns, MichiganV8 Archie Fino
|Frame ||1985 Fiero |
|Wheelbase ||93.4" |
|Rearend ||Fiero transaxle |
|Rear Suspension ||Coilover shocks / |
|Rear Brakes ||Drilled and slotted disc |
|Front Suspension ||Coilover shocks |
arms / Held
|Front Brakes ||Drilled and slotted disc |
|Steering ||Stock Fiero |
|Wheels ||Enkei RS6 17 x 7 |
|TireS ||Nitto NT 555 |
|ENGINE & TRANS |
|Make ||3.4 V6 Chevy(' Firebird) |
|Crankshaft ||Stock |
|Pistons ||Hypereutectic |
|Camshaft ||Comp Cams |
|Water Pump ||Stock |
|Radiator ||Stock |
|Alternator ||Stock |
|Heads ||HD springs |
|Induction ||Stock injection |
|Air Cleaner ||K&N |
|Ignition ||Stock |
|Headers ||Stock |
|Mufflers ||Custom |
|Transmission ||125 automatic |
|Shifter ||Stock |
|Manufacturer ||V8 Archie Fino |
|Body Mods ||Center exhaust |
|Bodywork ||Ed Stephens |
|Paint Type ||PPG Mandarin Orange metallic |
|Painter ||Kevin Personious |
|Graphics ||Snake & flames by Gary Floate |
|Gauges ||White-face Speedhut |
|Wiring ||Modified by owner |
|Steering ||Wheel Grant |
|Seating ||Stock buckets |
|Upholsterer ||PISA |
|Material ||Leather |