Indeed, the prodigious use of CNC-machined aluminum bits is one of the Fairlane's most dramatic design features. Aluminum trim rings outline the headlights, taillights, and exhaust outlets. Underhood, an elaborate network of interwoven aluminum encompasses the Windsor-based 560hp Roush small-block, with details so intricate that it looks like a robotic spider went nuts spinning a liquid metal web. Billet braces tie the shock towers to the firewall, and are hinged on Heim joints. The lattice work continues up front, where a billet skeleton fills in the dead space between the front of the motor and the fan shroud. This seamlessly hides the accessory drive, and attenuates the inherent ugliness of the front-mounted Ford distributor. The cumulative effect of it all yields so much visual impact that it's easy to overlook the machined hood hinges, valve covers, and radiator cap. As eminent as the brightwork may be, it's not the least bit tacky, and that's not a coincidence. "We don't like billet junk or shiny parts that look two-dimensional. Instead of using bling-bling parts that shine in your face, our goal is to make three-dimensional parts in interesting mechanical shapes that grab your attention, but then blend away into the background," Jim says. "With our ability to machine just about anything in-house, we aren't limited to building things out of fiberglass and sheetmetal. We can design parts using CAD software, and tweak them to perfection before actually cutting them out of aluminum, which dramatically speeds up the R&D process. The purpose of many of these machined parts is to improve the overall look of areas of the car that we don't like, such as the shock towers. Mediablasting and anodizing the aluminum parts result in a nice, subdued finish."
Deft integration of machined aluminum, however, is merely one of the many design elements contributing to the Fairlane's overall aggressivedemeanor. The car's custom bodywork is equally impressive, and the transformation started at the quarter-panels. Jim wanted to retain the side vents of the stock Fairlane while making them more pronounced. To that end, the factory vent openings were cut out, reshaped, then filled with carbon fiber and aluminum inserts. In addition to looking cool, the vents are fully functional and direct air to the rear brakes. To complement the dropped stance, the roof was chopped an inch, and a rocker panel lip extends all the way around the car. One of Jim's biggest pet peeves was how droopy the Fairlane's posterior looked, so countless hours were invested to bulk it up. "If you look at a stock Fairlane from the rear profile, the way the quarter-panels drop off makes it look like the car is frowning at you. We hated that, so we ended up stretching the quarter-panels and installing a custom spoiler to square up the car's shoulders," Jim says. "Our approach to building cars isn't about simply welding a spoiler onto the trunk, but instead we custom build parts to match the body lines on a car. We actually recessed the trunk and sunk the spoiler into the decklid to create a unique effect that hasn't been done before. Two small side spoilers on each end of the center spoiler help square everything up. As the car was nearing completion, the owner thought the taillights looked like jet engines, so he named the car 'Afterburner.' "