About two years ago I was living in Seal Beach, California. At the time I had a '65 Buick, which I kept in the garage with the windows down. I walked down to the garage one morning to hop into the car, when I looked down to see a giant black spider perched in its web right at the rocker panel. I found two more sittin' in webs on the seats. As I looked closer, they looked a lot like black widows. I thought to myself, "I thought those were only in the desert." It turns out I was wrong, and my only ride was infested with them. Talk about a nerve-wracking drive to work that morning! I was so freaked that I took a gallon of spider spray to the Buick where I saw my rocker-panel buddy drop down and run from the spray. He met the sole of my foot, but to this day, every time I hear the words "black widow," I think of that day. As for Ed Varga, he sings to a different tune.
When Ed hears "black widow," he thinks of the Chevrolet Black Widow. Back in the mid-'50s Stock car racing was becoming increasingly popular. Chevrolet decided they would one-up the competition and build a '57 Chevy specifically for NASCAR. The car was based off of a '57 150 two-door "utility" sedan, and any color combination was available as long as it was black and white. The NASCAR-inspired ride went on to be known as the "Black Widow." It was based off the same sedan that Chevy sold to police fleets and the U.S. Army, only with a dose of thrill, a fuel-injected 283ci V-8 straight out of the Corvette that boasted 270 hp. The ironic thing is the fuelie 283 was the reason NASCAR outlawed the car, because it didn't have a carburetor. There were only a handful of them built, so if ya want one, ya better clone one. And that's exactly what Varga did--sort of. He mixed his style with Chevy's.
Ed started with a pretty beat-up 150 Chevy and went from there. Considering that all he had to do was put the body back to stock, it was a pretty straightforward restoration. Gary Grewe handled all the bodywork. On the outside, the body looks identical to the Black Widow car. However, Gary grafted a scoop to the hood, which is not found on an original Black Widow. Why, you ask? Instead of using a fuel-injected 283 powerplant, Ed went with a 620-horse GM Performance Parts 572 crate engine. Besides the hood, the firewall also had to be reworked to stuff the motor down the pipe. Ed also had to do some serious reconfiguring when it came time to fit the headers and clutch linkage for the M22 Super Rockcrusher into the minimal space provided. With the motor situation worked out and the bodywork finished, Mark Powell sprayed the '57 in PPG Black and White. Ed also put the Fuel Injection badges on the rear fins just like the real cars had. As for the chassis, Ed wasn't diggin' the ride height. It didn't give the car that "mean as hell" look he was after. Up front, he left the suspension alone but threw in 3-inch-taller coil springs to jack up the frontend. Out back, the rear springs were relocated using hand-fabbed spring pockets and a ladder-bar setup. Instead of going with a painted-white wheel like the original Black Widows, Ed threw on a set of 15x7-inch and 15x10-inch Torque Thrust D rims wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.
On the inside of the car, Ed designed a custom dash. He used two original gauge clusters to house the speedo and tach, but the remaining gauges housed on the edge of the dash were fabricated in by Mike Chapman. Tim's Trim stitched up the tweed and vinyl interior. Although Ed's Widow might not exactly look identical to Chevrolet's, it still makes for one mean bare-knuckle-brawling widow.