FEATURED CAR: From The Grave To Glory – A True Barn Find
Car - 1957 Chevrolet 150 Sedan Businessman Coupe
Paint - House Of Kolor Black w/ metallic blue custom flames
Engine - Supercharged 422 C.I. Dart Small Block
Transmission - TH 400 built by ATI w/ JW Super Bellhousing
Rear - Ford 9 inch with back brace. Richmond 4.56 gears on Strange axles
Tires - Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro 33x19.5x15 and Skinny's up front
Weight - 3900lbs without driver
Best Pass To Date - 10.24 @134mph
Years Owned - 16 years
Our Featured Car this issue is a magnificent 1957 Chevy 2-door owned by Joe T. from Washington, NJ. Joe purchased the shell of this beauty in 1999 after being bullied by months from one of his friends to take a look at it. To satisfy his friend and put an end to the badgering, he agreed to see the car. The garage that became the grave for the 57 had no door on it, and they actually had to remove leaves from the car just to see the condition of the floor pans and trunk. What they uncovered was not a pretty sight. The 57 had no doors, no fenders, a blown up 327, and to top it off, it was completely rusted. Being a sucker for 57 Chevys and having a long time dream of building one, Joe agreed to take the car from its grave for the whopping price of $500.
In true grave robbing fashion, the body was removed from the chassis, giving the 57 its first taste of love in decades. Joe purchased an S&W double adjustable ladder bar back half kit and mounted it to a Ford 9-inch rear with QA-1 adjustable coil-overs. To complete his dream of having a big tire car, Joe purchased a set of Mickey Thompson 33x19.5x15 Sportsman Pros and built the car around them. The front suspension was rebuilt using the stock configuration, but utilizing some modern parts. Moroso trick springs and Lakewood 90/10 drag shocks gave the 57 the upgrade it needed. To further add to the Pro Street look and overkill theme, the front end was fitted with a one piece tilt nose. The 57 now had the stance that Joe was hoping for.
Now that the body was attached to the frame, it was sent to Dave Sanos's Custom Paint Shop. Dave laid a beautiful House Of Kolors black base with intertwined metallic blue flames. To add to the coolness of the flames, he outlined them with a light blue barbed wire border. It took a long year for the body work, windows, trim, bumpers, and paint to get completed and bring Joe's 57 into the looker it is today.
If the tilt front end, big tires, and custom paint don't already set this 57 apart from the rest, then the interior will certainly deliver the final blow and end all debates. Joe found a set of Nissan Maxima bucket seats from a junk yard and built the interior around them. Everything in the interior is new. The custom dash is the epitome of what the 80's Pro Street movement stood for. The custom console not only houses the Autometer gauge cluster, and Hurst Quarter Stick, but two cup holders for Joe to use while cruising in this beast. The rollcage, seats, and interior trim are color matched to the flames and help bring the whole motif of the car into focus.
Three engines later and the 57 would be fitted with another item off of Joe's bucket list. When the decision to build a blower motor was finalized, Joe decided to start all over. A 422 cubic inch Dart small block is home to a pair of Dart Pro 1 Platinum CNC heads. Diamond pistons and Lunati Pro Mod rods are attached to an Eagle crankshaft. Sitting on top of a 6-71 Blower is a pair of 650cfm Demon carbs. The engine was built to handle 20lbs of boost. Joe used a Snow methanol injection system to cool the boost charge. MSD components provide the spark needed to bring this 57 to life.
Joe confesses that the car is really his street car but is quick to note that it ran a 10.24 @ 134 mph with only 12 lbs of boost. The 57 has won over twenty trophies at local car shows and was selected as a potential finalist for the TV show "Pinks All Out" at Englishtown Raceway Park.
Joe is a self-taught gear head that had no formal training. He simply had to figure out how to keep his car running or be forced to walk. He plans on changing the rear gears so he could save some gas and cruise at 75mph while keeping the engine at a low and steady 2000 rpm. He also wants to prep the car for the track with race fuel, slicks, and turn the boost up just to see the full potential of his 57.
When I met Joe at a local pizzeria to discuss his car and this article, we had such a great time talking about cars and life in general, that we actually had to get focused and discuss only the 57. I asked Joe why he went to the extremes to build this car when he already owns a 9-second pro class Monza and a 1956 Corvette. His response was quick and precise. "It was just everything I wanted." Now I get to see and work on a lot of cars doing what I do, but there is something about this 57 that made me make Joe promise to take me for a ride in it.
The next time you see a rusted, old, leaf covered piece of American history sitting in someone's barn or field, remember that dreams do come true. The $500 risk that this dream started out with, proved itself to be a worthy investment that will only continue to increase and make any financial advisor jealous. As for me, this story is not quite finished as I still need to go for a ride in this re-born piece of history and hear the whine of the blower. Cars may get old, and we unfortunately get old, but riding in a cool car never does.
Until next month...
Special Note: I finally had an opportunity to go for a ride in this beautiful classic a mere 10 months after writing this story. For a blown, big tire, tilt front end street beast, this car is surprisingly a very comfortable ride. Despite the weather being in the 90's with a crazy high humidity, she stayed at a cool 190 degrees on our way to get a slice of pizza. I don't know if its an age thing but there is nothing cooler than a 57 Chevy period! Thanks Joe!