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This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is Tri-Five Perfecta

Marvin Meyer’s first car’s a keeper

John Gilbert May 4, 2015
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Born on a mountain and raised in a cave, drag racing and … uh, maybe that isn’t the most polite way to describe the saga of Marvin Meyer and his ’57 Bel Air two-door hardtop, but the show winning vehicle does have humble beginnings.

Marvin’s Bel Air was a drag car before he bought it; his brother-in-law used to run it at the local strip in Colorado. Marvin worked summer jobs, saved up his cash, and bought it for $1,000 at age 15. It was Marvin’s first automobile and just as cool as it gets for a guy’s high school transportation. In his senior year, Marvin shelled out $100 for a “Corvette silver paint job.” The painter mixed it with more green toner than the OE Vette formula called for, so it came out as a custom hue. Marvin said that mistake is what inspired the color his ’57 is today.

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After Marvin graduated from high school he stopped driving the Tri-Five as his main set of wheels and picked up a winter beater to take the brunt of Colorado’s climate. The desire to show the ’57 came at an early age. At ages 17 and 19, Marvin entered the light metallic green two-door in the ISCA’s Denver Tri-State custom car show. Marvin didn’t place, but he had a lot of fun wand it cast the die for things to come.

In 2004, Marvin and his brother James began what he calls the ’57’s first phase. It consisted of pulling the 283 out and dropping in a 355-inch small-block James built. He topped the 0.030-over 350 block with a set of Edelbrock aluminum heads and aluminum intake manifold. The carburetor is a 650-cfm Holley set up as a blow-through by the Carb Shop to function properly with a ProCharger F1 running 8 psi of boost. A Comp cam and roller lifter with a blower profile and 9:1 pistons complete the engine’s compatibility program.

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For cooling, an Edelbrock aluminum water pump circulates coolant through an oversized PRC fully polished aluminum radiator. The exhaust system is comprised of silver ceramic-coated Hooker headers dumping into a 3-inch H-pipe that opens up into a pair of stainless steel mufflers.

To handle the 617 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque the blown 355 pulled on an engine dyno, a beefed 700-R4 from US Transmission with a 2,800-stall converter is in place. The floor shifter is a B&M Bandit. A shortened driveshaft bridges the gap between the 700-R4 and a Jim Meyer Racing 9-inch rearend packing 3.90 gears and Positraction.

For suspension, Marvin looked once again to Jim Meyer Racing. Up front, JMR 2-inch drop spindles are attached to JMR tubular control arms suspended on air with Shockwaves. A JMR front sway bar acts to control lean and Baer 14-inch disc brakes with six-piston calipers takes care of front braking. It’s a ditto situation in the rear, Shockwaves replace the ’57’s original parallel leaf setup with a JMR rear sway bar and Baer 14-inch, six-piston brakes are in place. In front, 18-inch Billet Specialties Stiletto wheels are mounted on 245/45R18 Nitto 550 tires. Out back, 20-inch Stilettos are mounted on 305/40R20 Nitto 550 tires.

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Phase II, as Marvin calls it, was the extensive transformation of the exterior and interior. The light green mica pearl exterior Marvin refers to as Silvereen was inspired by the mistake made years earlier attempting to replicate ’70 Corvette Cortez Silver. Nick Pfannenstiel at Flatliner Rod Shop in Brighton, Colorado, custom mixed a Sherwin-Williams formula that more than reproduces the nostalgia Marvin holds for the hue.

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In hoity-toity terms, the interior appointments such as reworked Mitsubishi bucket seats and custom rear bench, custom console, and Bel Air exterior trim were all custom fabricated by Auto Weave Upholstery. The Denver-based upholstery shop incorporated two-tone graphics using shades of black and jade Ultraleather to trim the ’57. For steering, a Billet Specialties Stiletto wheel wrapped in jade leather sits atop an ididit tilt steering column. The sound system is comprised of a Classic Radio head unit with an internal amp that feeds two Bose 8-inch speakers in front and two Bose 6x9 speakers for the rear. The parts used on the ’57 that didn’t come already chrome plated were custom chromed or polished by either Stainless Trip Works or Classic Trim.

In addition to recognizing his wife, Kelly, Marvin stressed it was thanks to his brother James working in a three-car garage that the ’57 went from the bare frame up and ultimately took first place at Crème de la Chrome. The creamy sounding event is a Denver car show that superseded the Tri-State show.

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