Michael Barrett and 57 Chevies…
What Are Your Dreams?
This was part of mine 3 years ago – still is – an automotive dream.
The screen capture of this Blue 57 Chevy convertible is from my first Mind Movie – and what a gorgeous car. Somebody can paint, yes? It’s like the perfect color for that convertible.
The 57 two door Chevy has always been my favorite body style of the late 50’s vintage American cars with “fins”. It’s a love story that launched in 1968-9 with the first of three 1957 Chevy 2 doors that personally captured my heart and imagination.
The First: A Competition Orange on Black 2 Door 57
The first belonged to a friend of mine who worked at a 76 Union Station.
It was hard top custom painted competition orange with black custom button and diamond interior, powered by a 427 with a 4 speed and tons of horsepower. My friend crafted this car over several years. Before I met him personally, I frequently used to see it parked by the Lucky Supermarket near the 76 Station. Subsequently it was stolen and stripped by professionals.
What a car…
The Second: A Black on Black Perfect – Hard Top 2 Door 57
The next 57 – and still my favorite to this day – was a black on black absolutely perfect 2 Door Hardtop. At the time, I did not know the difference between a BelAir or a 150 – I just liked the cars and I was only 16. So it could have been a modified BelAir or a 150.
The builder was a fanatic and spent about 7 years building it – but I never met him personally to verify details. When I knew this car it was owned by a subsequent owner.
Story has it that the builder of the car would show up at the Fremont Drag Strip on Friday nights and would promise to race it. Each time he got a green light at the starting line, he would gently drive the car down the track fully enjoying the fact that everyone was looking at his beautiful 57. Meanwhile his competition would blast off seriously trying to win the 1/4 mile race. Supposedly he did actually race it one night and blew the doors of his competitor and then refused to ever race it again – profusely begging forgiveness from his Black Beauty…
It was an unusual 57.
And it was fast – powered by a 375 horse 327 Fuel Injected Corvette engine and running gear. And although there is a lot of new technology today with superior metallurgy capable of producing significantly more horsepower, I still love the old vintage 327 engine configuration – and the deep throaty sound of those old small blocks when the drivers uncapped their headers.
How This Black 57 Was Different…
Stock 57 Chevy Hood Ornament Source
The hood was simpler than a traditional 57 Belair – with a very clean looking elegance. In retrospect, it is not clear to me if it was a modified 57 hood or a modified 55 . It was immaculate and absolutely appealing with ~40 coats of clear on top of a rich, deep, black paint job – with no visible imperfections looking down the side of the car.
The following pictures demonstrate what I am talking about…
57 Modified Hood
The hood on this white 57 on the left is very similar to what I remember – only the car I’m describing was all black.
The side panels were also very similar only the black 57 in my story was even more simplified and cleaner looking than the white one pictured here.
Black 57 Chevy Side Panel
The black 57 that I remember was kind of a cross between the 3 57’s pictured here:
The black one on the right
The white one above and
The yellow one below
The rear side chrome on “my black 57” was just like the yellow 57 below and you can see how sleek it is compared to the stock chrome on the black one pictured here.
Stunning Yellow 57 Chevy 2 Door Hard Top
This yellow 57 is pretty darn close to the car I am talking about with the following exceptions:
- The hood on my story car was very much like the white one above. Very clean with all the gaudy chrome overkill that came stock on those cars – removed.
- The Chrome : the black “story 57” had almost identical side panel chrome as the yellow one pictured here – which I absolutely love – compared to the stock chrome on the black one above. Also the Black Beauty has chromed bumpers which looked great against the amazing black paint job. Although I actually like the painted bumpers from an aesthetic standpoint – they’re not practical if you drive the car.
- The Black Beauty was black not yellow.
- The Black Beauty stood differently than the yellow one here which is raked. The Black Beauty’s suspension was exactly the c0rrect height – slightly lowered – to match the beauty of the car’s profile and also in terms of handling performance. It handled well – it was not just a straight line car.
So maybe you can visualize the car I remember.
The Third Fast Forward to 1994: A 57 Red on White Immaculate Convertible
This car was as clean as the blue one in the screen capture at the beginning of this article. Only it was a stunning, striking, deep red with white tuck and roll interior. It was all original and absolutely perfect inside and out.
This car was parked outside the Rich’s Custom Upholstery shop on 100th and Aurora Ave N in Seattle. When I saw it, the windows were down, there was no carpet in it yet and there were no door panels installed. As I looked at it, I could tell it was a frame off restoration nearing completion.
With the door panels and carpet removed, I could see the floor board metal had been blasted and repainted. Everything electrical and mechanical was brand new – the wiring harness, the high beam switch, the servo motors in the doors for the electric windows, the mechanical components of the convertible top – everything…
The top was brand new, the seats, the paint, the chrome – perfect like factory showroom condition.
The 57 Chevy.
When I build my 57 it will have all the ingredients of my favorite 57’s over the years and I’ll post it when it’s built.
More 57 Chevies