CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB
2828 Wiregrass Rd. Lakeland, Fl. 33810
When I was 7 years old my father brought home a yellow and white 1957 Bel Air 2dr. hdtp. I would spend hours washing and waxing it and sitting behind the wheel. I think that I was about ten when I first drove it up and down the driveway. My uncle was a Chevy dealer and I would spend summers with my cousins doing everything related to cars, including
driving the old ones around a track we had on a big field behind the dealership. Needless to say, I started driving at a very early age!
I got my first 57 when I was 17 years old. My brother bought home a Bel Air 2dr hdtp while in the service in Texas. It was Inca Silver w/ a PP 3 spd on the column. Of course, the first thing I did was throw out the air cleaner and put a floor shifter in it. Subsequent visits to my uncle's included searches through the parts department.
It was the late 1960's and there were still lots of trim, emblems and other needed parts to make the car look great-it was a rust free west Texas car and the body was straight. I remember finding a pair of NOS bumper ends buried in a corner covered with dust...those were the days!
The next year I had the body shop paint the car black and we put a new 4spd in it. The last thing I added to the car was an 8 track tape player. Then it was stolen from the front of the house and never recovered.
Twenty six years later, even after putting 3 kids in braces, I was ready to buy the car of my dreams, a 57 convertible, I had squirreled away about seven thousand dollars and now, in 1996, I started looking for a restorable one. I found one which had undergone disassembly and then it was left untouched for at least1 5 years. It was within my budget and I had almost all necessary parts except an engine and trans.
Restoration didn't start for a year, delayed by an agreement with my wife to put in a new kitchen and home expansion. I went to many swap meets and started accumulating quite a cache of parts. A friend located a complete 4dr sport coupe with a 283 powerglide...what a find for $1500!
On the advice of the resto guys at Ole 55 Chey (aka East Coast Chevy) in PA, I took all useable body parts to an acid dipping facility (Ready Strip) and then quickly epoxy-primed everything. Next was to bring it to Ole 55 witht he new floor, braces, etc. While the metal work was being done (about two months) I got everything ready,mostly restoring all useable parts.
When body work was done we took the completed frame to ECC and they mounted it and shimmed it up-it was exciting because now it looked like the real deal.
I spent the next 2 1/2 years working weekends and some weekday nites in my small garage putting the car together. I took adult education classes
on body work and painting, well worth the time. I finished the complete frame off resto after a total of 5 years after I bought the car. It was alot of work with many "bumps in the road' but well worth it, especially when people tell me, "What a beautiful 57 convertible!".