So Fine

A Little Gold and a Little Class

Mike Harrington Jun 3, 2005 0 Comment(s)

Editor's note: Tony Adsley of Austin, Texas, has a little bit of gold--well actually he has a lot of gold! This Gold Class '57 Chevy is an amazing piece of art on wheels. All day long at the Super Chevy Show in Texas the crowds gathered around this stunning showstopper. A crown jewel among show cars, this legendary milestone of automotive history a '57 Bel Air, has been built to some exacting standards that warrant it a coveted spot in the invitation-only Gold Class at Super Chevy shows. After reading what Tony has to say and looking at the pictures, we know you will agree.

My original vision of this car is rooted in my late-teen years, those being the years of 1957 through 1960. Ted Jensen, Ralph Penny, Roy Vidone, and Ted Martin each owned a '57 hardtop Chevrolet. I however owned a '39 Buick Century coupe, which I paid 150 bucks for. I wanted my own '57 Chevy as well, but could not afford a newer car and pay for college at the same time. I especially remember Ralph's '57 210 hardtop. Ralph bought it new from the dealer and within a week had it slammed to the ground! All four of those guys altered their Chevys in many ways. Typically they had them lowered and shaved with chrome wheels, sticks shifts, solid lifters and dual fours usually rounded out the package.

That was then, this is now and after 40 years it was time to deliver my dream. I have owned a ton of cars since then, but have always wanted one of those '57s and in 1997 I started looking for a one of my own. In January 1998, I found what I was looking for.

With my limited mechanical abilities, I knew I did not have the skills or the time to build this car the way I wanted. Willing to take the car anywhere in the country to have it done right, I was lucky that right here in Austin, Texas, we have one of the best shops. Simply known as the Stainless Shoppe, Michael Domoracki only works on Tri-Fives. Michael promptly started the meticulous frame-off of the '57. For the next 3 years the '57 was methodically massaged from its former glory to a state that it had never before been...not even from the factory. Starting from the ends, the front three-piece bumper was replaced with a California one-piece that had been "show chromed" by Lemon Grove in California. Both front and rear bumpers were smoothed and filled. The body panels, doors, roof, quarters, rockers, firewall, fenders, grille shell, hood, and trunk all received more care and attention than the Queen of England! After 3 1/2 years and 3,000-plus man-hours, Michael had the car ready for assembly. The bodywork was extensive to say the least.

Meanwhile, the frame was sent to Cam Bierman, owner of Radical Rides and Race Cars of Austin, Texas, where they installed Jim Meyer Racing products Stage II IFS complete with a GM rack-and-pinion, tubular A-arms, matching spindles, coilover QA-1 shocks, antisway bar, and disk brakes. A Williams traction bar kit was installed along with a shortened and polished Currie 9-inch rearend. Four-piston 11-inch Willwood disk brakes were installed on all four corners along with matching E-brake calipers on the rear. Polished 17x7 American Torque Thrust IIs were installed in the front with 205x50x17 BFG TA Radials. Matching 17x9.5 Americans placed on the rear with 285x60x17 TAs.

Once Cam was finished with the frame, it was again sent back to Michael Domoracki where all components were removed. The frame was then smoothed and filled, sandblasted and finished in a high-gloss Glasurit black with clearcoat. After the underside was done, it was time to come up top and really give the car some elegance. The interior was upgraded to reflect the appearance of a "resto" but upgraded '50s and '60s car. Gary Constable of Mutant art from Louisville, Kentucky, was to do renderings of descriptions furnished from '50s and '60s interiors. Gary brought tremendous insight and design to this project. Dan Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Interiors did 100-percent of the interior fabrication and sewing. The front seat frames and electronics started life in a Toyota Cressida. Dan fabricated the seats using his favorite foams and the design drawings. The whole cab has vibration/dampening materials and insulation.

With all this show the car needed some go. The engine is a stock GM crate '96 Corvette Grand Sport LT-4 with a '94/95 GM rear-mounted computer. Sitting just behind the engine is a highly polished '93 700-R4 unit that has been rebuilt for street and strip with a 3,000-stall converter. The LT-4 is a two-bolt main with aluminum heads, roller cam assembly, 194 intake, and 150 exhaust valves. An LT-4 injection system was used with Grand Sport 27-pound injectors. S&P supplied all the engine trim fully polished, which included: valve covers, air cleaners, pulleys, pulleys covers, water pump, compressor, alternator, and transmission pan together with all-matching brackets and bolts.

If that's not enough for you there's more. Further engine bay polished or chromed accessories included: A/C dryer, coolant overflow chamber, power steering reservoir, Griffin 1.5-inch tube aluminum radiator, stainless A/C, power steering, power brake lines and connectors, chromed dual master cylinder and booster, remanufactured and chromed hood hinges and latches, and filled and painted Corvette fuelrail covers with mounted '57 fuel injection insignias. There is nothing on this engine that is not spit and polish. Truth be told, there is nothing on this Bel Air that is flawed.Stunning...amazing...brilliant, these are just a few words that come to mind when you see this '57. Just as the license plate reads, this car is "So Fine."

8

COMMENTS

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
TO TOP