With 1957 Chevy convertibles being six-figure collectables in factory-correct condition, it takes a very special kind of guy to pull the gloves off and build what may very well be the worlds nicest resto-mod 57 Chevy convertible. But as youll see, the results are definitely worth the $165,000 it required to build this amazing car and few modified Shoebox Chevys have this ones combination of performance and style. This is a no-compromises build that combines everything that was great about the 57 Bel Air with modern technology that makes it more akin to a modern Corvette in a vintage wrapper.
Youll have a hard time finding a 57 Chevy thats straighter than this one. Once the obligations of a correct restoration are removed, youd be amazed what a good body man can do to vintage sheet metal, and this car is proof. The panels, including the doors and those unique quarters, are amazingly flat and straight, without a single ripple or wave to be seen. Gaps are excellentjust look at the way the hood fits and how tight the gaps truly are. And then theres the paint, which is two-stage urethane that has been wet sanded and buffed to a spectacular shine beyond anything that youre likely to see on an AACA show field. The color is so rich and deep that it seems to hover over the bodywork, inviting you to look deeper. Vivid, shiny, and extremely well-executed, the overall look of this Bel Air is more akin to a hand-made car from Crewe or Maranello than Detroit.
The 57 Chevys were renowned for their brilliant use of chrome and bright metal trim, and one look at this convertible tells you all you need to know about how to do it right. From the distinctive anodized aluminum inserts in the quarters to the gently curving stainless trim that begins just behind the headlights, it is exceptionally well executed and superbly finished. The stainless shines like chrome, and the chrome has all been professionally refinished to show standards. This is definitely not one of those resto-mods where the chrome and trim has been shaved and removedall the factory pieces remain intact and in place, from the gold anodized nose emblem to the pointed tailfin trim, and its all beautifully restored.
In 1957, the top motor was the fuel-injected 283, but today this Bel Air packs a modern-tech LS2 cribbed from a Corvette. With 6.0 liters and 400 horsepower, its a lot more power than Chevy engineers ever envisioned for the workaday Chevy. Nevertheless, its a neat fit in there, and putting a small block Chevy in your Chevy is never a bad idea. This one also retains all the Corvettes accessories, including the alternator and power steering, as well as A/C by Vintage Air and a dual master cylinder with power assist, so it drives like a new car. All the metal pieces took a trip under the polishing wheel before being installed, and the Corvettes plastic coil covers were treated to a matching coat of bright red paint. Up front theres a massive aluminum radiator with electric fans, and a custom fan shroud that neatly fits around the conical air cleaner that feeds the enginea very cool custom touch. Custom inner fender panels were fabricated to hide wiring and plumbing, yet still give unrestricted access for service. Designed to be on display, theres not a single component in the entire engine compartment that wasnt massaged, polished, painted, or modified for display, and the hours it took to create this under-hood showcase were definitely well spent.
Backing up the Corvette LS2 is a 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission that is designed to work in conjunction with the LS2s engine management software, resulting in seamless performance. Out back, the original Chevy rear end hangs on re-arched leaf springs to give the car a slightly lower stance. The front suspension is augmented by tubular A-arms and a new power rack-and-pinion steering system. Spectacular red paint covers the floors, but the frame is gloss black, which creates brilliant contrast, especially when you throw that bright stainless steel exhaust system under there. And no respectable resto-mod is going to go cruising with that much horsepower and ordinary brakes, so this 57 wears a vented and cross-drilled disc at every corner, front and rear. Choosing the right wheel for your resto-mod is always difficult, but I think youll agree that the builder nailed it on this one with a set of 17-inch Boyd Coddington billet aluminum hoops wearing 225/55/17 performance radials.
This car really stands apart from the crowd inside, where a gorgeous custom tan leather interior has been stitched up, and I dont think anyone was worrying about the cost. Both front and rear seats have lovely new covers that feature custom stitching and seams that line up almost perfectly. New door panels were created to match, but use the original trim and handles to tie it all together. The original gauges have been replaced by Classic Instruments that have cream-colored faces that are almost exactly the same color as the leather. More tan leather was wrapped around the rim of the custom billet steering wheel that looks very 50s, and the rest of the dash was restored to new condition. The A/C system was neatly integrated into the original dash, and features discreet vents hanging underneath. An AM/FM/cassette radio replaces the original unit in the dash, and feeds speakers hidden throughout the interior. Overhead, a custom tan Haartz cloth top was created, including a glass rear window, and it folds neatly into its well where its covered by a matching tan boot. Finally, the trunk has been upholstered to match, and proudly wears a large Chevrolet emblem and matching side pockets in the trim panels.
With just 42 shakedown miles since it was completed, this is exactly the kind of car that ends up on the covers of magazines and taking home the big awards at shows. Professionally built, there are no cut corners in this car, and the restoration work is absolutely first-rate. With a build cost of over $165,000, this car obviously represents the best of everything, and it all works as it should. Take this Chevy for a drive, or trailer it to shows, and watch the crowds form. Everyone loves the 57s, but some cars are a lot nicer than others. If youve been looking for the ultimate shoebox Chevy, you may have just found it. Call today!
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