- Frame off restoration
- Steve Holcomb interior
- LS3 Gen IV V8
- 4L80E automatic transmission
- 10-bolt rear / 3.23 gears
- Power rack and pinion steering
- Heidts front suspension upgrades
- Baer four-wheel disc brakes
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is in a pretty elite group when it comes to significance and overall impact on the automotive world. It's one of the most easily recognized cars worldwide and clean stock examples routinely fetch six figures at auction. With that said, it takes some guts and a strong check-writing hand to dive into one of these cars head first and build it to your vision. This 1957 Chevy convertible is one of those rare cars that has been modernized in countless ways but retains the nearly universal appeal of a stock model. Featuring a new LS series V8, a modernized suspension and an amazing custom interior by Steve Holcomb, this is the kind of car other '57 owners hang pictures of in their garage to remind them of what the best looks like. If you're considering a tri-five, why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a similar car when you can take home a completed masterpiece now?
Part of building a jaw dropping show car is knowing when to hold back. With an icon like the '57, even the most subtle touches go a long way. While the body received plenty of attention, it was aimed solely at creating the most perfect surface possible. Nothing has been shaved or modified in any way. Panel fitment is significantly above what factories were churning out in the 1950's and every movable piece opens and shuts with ease. Of course, it's the color that ultimately decides the personality of these cars and the glossy coat of Matador Red lends this '57 a sporty demeanor that most pastels simply cannot. The perfect reflections and crisp lines are a testament to how many hours were invested into block sanding the car before paint and wet sanding/buffing afterwards. The show quality finish guarantees this Chevy will make a big first impression on anyone lucky enough to see it in person.
Of course, it wouldn't be a '57 without a metric ton of chrome and trim pieces accenting the slick paintwork. At the front of the car a heavy body-width bumper hangs a Bel Air grille behind a pristine Chevrolet crest and clear white parking lights. Above that crest, Bel Air-exclusive hood ornamentation sits between bright headlights and good looking '57 Chevy-exclusive Speer bullets and spoons. At the sides of those bullets, classic tri-five Chevy stainless, which visually connects the car's front fenders with its rear fins, is branded by golden Bel Air-exclusive emblems. At the edge of that stainless, dent-free rocker moldings combine with Bel Air-exclusive fender louvers and traditional chrome door handles to lend a finished look to the car's profile while factory fender skirts add a great nostalgic touch. At the top of that profile, spotless stainless trim combines with new chrome mirrors and bright stainless wipers to frame factory tinted glass and a well-fitting red canvas top. To the back of the car, peaked stainless trim, which begins at the top of the fins and continues down to chrome trimmed tail lights, flows into a second body-width bumper that's centered below Bel Air-exclusive trunk ornamentation.
Lift the hood and you'll be greeted by an LS series V8. While it may look like the more common LS1, a closer look reveals that this is a 426hp 6.2L LS3 – also known as one of the most powerful base engines ever planted between the fenders of a Corvette. Chevrolet invested a great deal of time and research in getting the most out of their Gen IV architecture small-block and it definitely shows. Changes started with a 20% stronger block featuring an increased bore of 103.25mm. Focus was then shifted to flow efficiency, resulting in the use of rectangle-port heads and an all-new intake manifold. Factor in a new piston design and injectors borrowed from the potent LS7 and you have the makings of a monster. Of course, raw power isn't enough for a car like this – the bay has to look good too. The smoothed firewall gets things started, matched by the smoothed and painted fuel rail covers. At the front, a Spectre cold air intake juts out from the composite intake manifold, drawing the eye towards the polished alternator, air conditioning compressor and power steering pump. The air conditioning lines are routed through the passenger fender, while the ECU resides behind a panel in the driver side fender for an ultra clean look. Cooling is provided by a polished stainless radiator that matches the stainless core support and makes room for the twin electric fans. From the billet hood hinges to the polished brake booster and master cylinder, every inch of this bay is show ready. Best of all, as a modern mill, the LS3 starts up every time and sounds great through polished headers and a stainless steel dual exhaust system.
Take a look under the car and you'll find an equally show-worthy undercarriage complete with a powder coated frame and fully finished floors. Look closely and you'll note an endless list of new hardware holding everything together while braided lines with AN fittings deliver their respective fluids. In the center, a modern 4L80E four-speed automatic transmission is mated to the LS3 for easy cruising while a 10-bolt differential with 3.23 gears puts the power to the pavement. Around that drivetrain, a nicely updated suspension incorporates polished Heidts tubular LCA's and coilovers for a fully adjustable front suspension while traditional leaf springs keep the back end planted. When the roads get twisty, there is plenty of driver support in the form of power-assisted rack and pinion steering and massive Baer brakes at all corners. Those brakes consist of drilled, slotted and zinc-plated 13-inch rotors up front and 12-inch out back with four-piston calipers all around. A set of staggered American Racing Torque Thrust wheels in sizes 17”x7” and 18”x9” fill out the wheel wells nicely, wrapped in sticky Delinte tires.
Between the doors, a custom red leather interior continues the no-holds-barred theme started under the hood. Stitched by interior master Steve Holcomb, the ultra-modern leather work begins around a pair of heavily reworked bucket seats that now offer plenty of support for spirited driving. Backseat passengers are treated to the same level of luxury thanks to custom rear seats split by a custom full-length leather-wrapped console complete with cup holders and a large storage compartment. The console terminates beneath a custom panel that bridges the gap between modern leather surfaces and classic steel dash. At the sides, custom door panels feature a modern take on the original door panels with swept lines accented by crisp stainless trim. From the driver seat, an attractive set of Classic Instruments gauges keep tabs on the LS3 from their spot in the dash. The electric clock remains in its place in front of the front passenger but a modern Kenwood head unit replaces the original Wonder Bar. A leather-wrapped Billet Specialties steering wheel connects the driver to the steering system through a polished tilt column. Red Daytona weave carpet covers the cabin floor and reemerges in the trunk where a combination of leather and suede finish off the custom work.
A good show car takes a while to absorb. Its features may not hit you immediately but, the longer you spend looking at it, the easier it becomes to see just how much work has actually been performed. From the ultra-clean LS3 install to the amazing custom interior, every piece of this car shows as though it was the priority of the build. If you're in the market for a well executed custom version of one of America's most iconic automobiles, don't miss your chance to own this killer '57 Chevy convertible!