Subscribe to the Free

Born to Run

Once Again, Project "X" Can Strut Its Stuff

Randy Fish Feb 27, 2004

One of my all-time favorite songs by Bruce Springsteen and the "E" Street Band is entitled "Born to Run." Remember those great lyrics--"Sprung from cages on Highway-9, chrome wheels, fuel injected, and stepping out over the line." Well, we're not exactly near New Jersey's famous Route 9, but ever since purchasing Project "X" in the early '60s, it certainly was born to run.

Just imagine, this all-conquering 1957 Chevy Model 210 has been abused on some of Southern California's most storied pieces of pavement, many of which are distant, but glorious memories in the hearts and minds of gearheads around the globe. A few of those include Lions Dragstrip, Orange County International Raceway, and Irwindale Raceway. During its earliest incarnations, Project "X" was put through its paces at these legendary race tracks, thoroughly thrashed while testing just about every type of performance part known to man. In reality, Project "X" was always along for the ride as the speed equipment industry began to establish its roots. By the same token, Popular Hot Rodding was there, as well, reporting on those hot new parts, educating its readers on installation procedures, tuning tips, and cosmetic accessories. Right from the get-go, Project "X" was deemed a win-win situation, as the publishers and editors were continually involved in the high performance hobby, just like the readers were.

From its cameo-role in the movie "Hollywood Knights," to its cross-country excursion on the BFGoodrich Tour in the '80s, this bright-yellow '57 has been a tool that's served us well. Everywhere it's been, readers have embraced it with reverence, a fitting honor to its benchmark status. This time, our intent was to bring it back with more of a contemporary look.

Seeing as how so may engines have thundered from within its frame rails, these days, Project "X" is proud to have received the very first Ram Jet 502 to be forklifted from the confines of GM Performance Parts. As it turns out, this healthy big-block, combined with its 4L80E transmission, makes for a perfect Tri-5 combo. After all, '57 Chevys are comprised of a great deal of metal. In turn, it's appropriate to give 'em a great deal of pedal (as in throttle).

If your memory is up to snuff, you'll remember reading that the only structural part of Project "X" that's not original is its chassis. Reason being, so may holes were drilled in it (some for lightening purposes), and so many brackets were welded on, cut off, ground smooth, and welded over again, that the original frame was junk. Our freshly powdercoated chassis was hauled over to John West Fabrication (Costa Mesa, CA), where it was prepped for new polished stainless control arms from Heidt's Hot Rod Shop up front, and a Fab-9 rearend from Chris Alston's Chassisworks. Its ride characteristics come by way of coilover shocks from QA1 Motorsports, while our aforementioned big-block spins a gearset from Reider Racing with 31-spline axles from Strange Engineering. The Boulevard Brute reduces its forward motion with a four-wheel disc setup from Baer Brake Systems, which reside behind a set of Legacy wheels from Billet Specialties, and BFGoodrich tires.

Moving to the obvious, The actual signature for Project "X" has long been its bright yellow colorcoat. For this go-around, a hearty tip of the hat goes to Mark Mahood (Mahood's Auto Body, Stanton, CA) and Wendell Pittman--two guys who have been friends for a long time. Although they work hard, they also play hard, as Wendell serves on the crew of Mark's multi-Championship winning, Goodguys A/Gas '69 Camaro.

Mark and Wendell received the body of Project "X" (sans chassis) along with all its individual pieces, just after it left Orange County Sandblasting. However, this was not destined to be a "shoot and scoot" operation. Quite the contrary, as we had grown tired of the car's age-old custom rear wheel openings. As you can imagine, lots of cutting and welding was done, since the C.A.R.S. Inc. quarter panels are over seven-feet long. The boys also welded in a new set of rockers, as the originals were damaged by someone who wasn't very proficient in the art of jacking up a vintage vehicle. In order to refinish "X" in a bright and shiny fashion, the folks at PPG joined our party, offering up the primer, sealer, reducer, paint, and hardener necessary to take Project "X" all the way back from "tired" to "tremendous." Several weeks of labor went into the refinishing chore, as that's what it takes for a show-quality paint job these days. And though Mark Mahood has painted magazine cover cars too numerous to mention, he joined our list of recruits for the pride--to be able to say that he refinished Project "X."

Darryl Nance and the crew at D&P Classic Chevy, in Huntington Beach, California, became involved for the same reason--pride of workmanship. This bunch of Tri-5 cool cats embraced Project "X" like it was the most important job they'd ever taken in - and for that, we're very grateful. D&P received the freshly painted body from Mahood's, as the rolling chassis (with its new suspension) was trailered over from John West Fabrication. After re-joining the two major components, one by one, hundreds of pieces to this puzzle were bolted back in place.

Luckily, lots of parts from the D&P Classic Chevy inventory were also used to finish things off--some of which include the special headers, aluminum radiator, and tinted glass, along with countless trim items and fasteners. D&P Classic completed everything from installing our American Autowire electrical harnesses, to performing the system upgrades, such as Specialty Power Windows and RainGear wipers, as well as outfitting "X" with a complete Vintage Air A/C and heat setup.

As the "to-do list" was getting shorter, D&P also installed our new interior kit from C.A.R.S. Inc., and our comp-style buckets from Scat, while a crew from Wanda's Upholstery was stretching the headliner around the confines of the roll cage, and carpeting what used to be the back seat area. Once the interior trim was just about wrapped up, a crew from Custom Autosound arrived at D&P to install a powerful stereo system and CD changer, with all the bells and whistles. After the creature cabin was filled with sound, its last install trip took it to Borla Industries, for a custom stainless steel exhaust system. Having an impressive new list of aftermarket components installed by many of Southern California's most talented craftsmen, Project "X" has begun yet another chapter in its well-chronicled existence. We sincerely hope you like the outcome. As far as we're concerned, it's very well dressed, and definitely Born to Run.


0404sc_23z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Right_front_view 2/12

0404sc_02z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Front_view 3/12

0404sc_09z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Engine_view 4/12

0404sc_01z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Interior_view 5/12

0404sc_19z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Right_front_view 6/12

0404sc_13z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Left_rear_view 7/12

0404sc_16z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Left_front_view 8/12

0404sc_04z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Gauges 9/12

0404sc_05z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Gauges 10/12

0404sc_06z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Steering_wheel 11/12

0404sc_18z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Hood_view 12/12

0404sc_08z 1957_chevrolet_bel_air_project_x Rear_view 13/12


Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print