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1957 Chevrolet Sedan - Special Delivery

Doug Carter’s sedan delivery is a beautiful art form of a vehicle that was only destined for duty as a mundane workhorse.

Patrick Hill Feb 5, 2014
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Some are lucky enough to be born into money. Others are born into fame. For Doug Carter, the universe gifted him to being born into a family whose father was a rep for model maker AMT.

“I had a boy’s best toys. My dad was a factory representative for AMT model cars. Cars were bred into my early existence and developed to a full scale, life-long hobby.”

At 17, Doug finally got his parents blessing to buy a real set of wheels. But like most car-hungry teenagers, his available funds fell far short of what his eyes could take in. He wanted a three-speed equipped ’55-’57 hardtop so bad he could taste it, but his wallet steered him to his second choice, a ’57 sedan delivery for sale at Portland, Oregon’s, House of Hardtops.

“Canary Yellow paint, 283, 4-speed and chrome reversed rims. What wasn’t to like? Well, it was called a ‘panel wagon’ and I didn’t know it was really a sedan delivery until months later. Dared to be different by default.”

After finding more profitable employment, Doug was able to add a set of Torque Thrust mag wheels, an L79 crate engine from nearby Lyman Slack Chevrolet, and had the delivery’s interior redone by Portland Roadster Show celeb Mark Tomlinson. Soon Doug had the best (and only) ’57 sedan delivery in the Portland area.

“It took some time, but the locals finally came around and, to be sure, there was not another sedan delivery to be found in the Portland area. It was fast, light, and great on dates.”


Not wanting to spend his life working in a northwest sawmill, Doug sold the delivery to buy a more economical VW and pay for his college tuition. It would prove to be a fruitful decision, as his engineering education led Doug to work for various manufacturing companies, including the maker of Proto hand tools.

Several decades later, he was perusing a copy of Hemmings Motor News when he spotted an ad for a ’57 sedan delivery for sale in La Mesa, California. Unable to resist the “what if” fantasies dancing through his mind, Doug headed south from Portland to check the car out. The seller claimed it was a bone-stock original, with a 283 and three-speed. But inspection of the VIN tag showed it originally left the factory with a 235 I-6, and the numbers stamped on the 283 showed it had been originally mated to a Powerglide. This gave Doug negotiating room on the price, and soon after the car arrived at his door in January of ’93.

The delivery went to Steve Frisbee of Frisbee’s Auto Restorations, where it was stripped down, blasted clean, and new rockers, floors, and panel repairs begun. Evidence of a major front end collision was discovered, as the firewall now had a slight parallelogram shape to it. But this was fixed, and some further body work completed.

A job transfer sent Doug to Florida, and it wasn’t until he could get a new home shop built that the ’57 ventured east too. It would languish untouched for years, until a chance encounter at a Super Chevy Show in Gainesville, Florida, led Doug to Steve Cooley of Steve Cooley Motors in Homosassa, Florida. It wasn’t long before the delivery ended up at Steve’s shop, and work began again.

Cooley worked and massaged the body until it was straight and all the gaps perfect. Then he laid down primer, followed by the car’s two-tone hue of 2004 Corvette LeMans Blue and Sand Effect. Here’s what Doug had to say about the overall design of the car when it came to paint and body.

“The car’s overall design was assisted by Steve Brost in Portland, and a color rendering was produced for the final look. The trick was how to produce a two-tone sedan delivery and visually stretch the big, boxy body. The coincidental solution was original trim from other 1957 Chevrolet models which were supplied and modified by Cliff’s Classic Chevrolet of Portland, Ore. The door spears were NOS pieces from a ’57 150 model four-door, and shortened 4 inches. The beltline stainless was taken from a ‘57 210 model 2-door wagon. The paint dividers came from a 150 model 2-door ‘Handyman’ wagon, which were lengthened and located on the doors allowing a long horizontal 2nd color paint band, stretching and lowering the look of the car. They were swapped side-to-side for a forward look. Perfect, and all ’57. Wanting to ‘float’ the grill bar and highlight the rare one-piece front bumper, the grill bar was recessed 1 ½-inches on new brackets, eliminating the original grille screen. The radiator and AC condenser were painted black to avoid having a bright aluminum background behind the grille opening to further the float effect.”


Such a stunning body deserved an equally impressive drivetrain. That started with a Kimbridge frame with an assortment of A and G-Body parts from CPP, Performance Suspension, Global West, and Ridetech installed. The four-link rear suspension is from Ridetech, connected to a 9-inch rear and rebuilt with upgraded axles and 3.55 gears. The brakes are Baer binders at all four corners.

For an engine Doug started with a partial 502 crate motor. The heads were sent to Precision Porting of Hudson, Florida, to be worked over, and a Crane roller cam installed with Crower rockers and Comp Cams custom length pushrods. A SpeedDemon carb sits on an Edelbrock AirGap intake, and ignition handled by an MSD Pro Billet distributor. Accessory drive is a Vintage Air Front Runner system. The trans is a built 700-R4 by Fourth Gear in Eustis, Flotida, and exhaust is disposed of through Williams’ Classic Chassis Works two-inch headers, through Magnaflow mufflers.

The delivery rolls on Budnik Cannon wheels, 18x8 front and 19x9 rear, wrapped in Falken FK 452 tires, 245/40-18 front, 255/40-19 rear.

Inside the delivery is plush, with ’67 GTO seats wrapped in leather behind a Flaming River steering column, and a custom built console between them. Dale VanCuren of Unlimited Designs in Dade City, Florida, handled the stitch work. Classic Instruments readouts keep tabs on the big-block, while an American Autowire harness powers everything. The pedals are Lokar, and the rear cargo area was covered in a combo of tan leather and carpet to match the front cabin.

Since completed the car has won numerous awards, including a Chip Foose’s pick from a select 100 at the Year One-Chip Foose Braselton Bash in 2010, and in 2012 the car won the Gold Class award at the Palm Beach International Raceway Super Chevy Show.

Not bad for a car that started out life as a mundane workhorse. And for Doug Carter, it carriers on the legacy of his first sedan delivery.



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