Before anything else, yes, this 1957 Chevy really was found in a barn. Look.
Pretty cool find. They’re still out there. But discovering a solid Tri Five under a pile of boards and old windows isn’t even the best part of this story. Not even close. Let’s start this story on the side of the highway somewhere in Texas. We’d had a bit of an incident with our Chevelle, and weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. Along comes a tall man with a trailer and the calm demeanor of an old cowboy, and he hooks us up and tows us into town. As if that’s not enough of a mitzvah, he then invites us to a BBQ at his shop. “I have a car I think you’ll like,” he says.
We’ve rarely met a car we didn’t like, and we’ve definitely never met a BBQ we didn’t like, so a big gang of us HOT ROD and Chevy Performance folks piled into a truck and rolled along a back road in Dickinson Texas until we saw quartet of chromed and finned Tri Fives in front of a Clint Eastwood-worthy wooden façade. “Guessing this is the place,” said someone from the back seat, and we were offered cold beers and warm welcomes the second we were out of the car. Everywhere we looked there was a sweet car, or a friendly face. In the back of the shop, a talented man named Raffa Diaz made magic on an open grill. It took a second to find our hosts in the sea of Strom family and friends, but eventually we cornered David Sr. and Becky Strom, and they gave us a quick overview of the cars parked around the place.
“Becky’s the lone Ford fan,” said David pointing out a buttercup of a 1965 Mustang convertible holding its own against the Chevy show. The pony has the heart of a fox, with a 5.0L V8 topped with an Edelbrock 4-bbl and backed by a C4 automatic. A Vintage Air system keeps her cool, and power steering and disc brakes make stopping and parking easier. “David used to make fun of me because it would take me forever to get the car in a parking spot when we’d go to the car shows,” Becky told us. “Then he drove it and was like, ‘Oh, we gotta put power steering on this.’” David laughed. “It’s true. It was really hard to drive. I don’t know how she did it for so long.”
The row of Tri Fives near the shop entrance belonged to David, his son, David Jr, and his brother Kenneth. Powered by small blocks in various bored and stroked sizes, each car reflected its owner and had a story. A sedan was purchased because it reminded Sr. of the one his mom drove, a Bel Air ambulance because of its incredible rarity. “It’ll get you to the hospital,” said one of the guests, “but not in a hurry.” We’re not sure we believe that, there are quite a few dark marks on the road in front of the shop that indicate there’s at least one or two vehicles there that can move out in a rush.
Of all the amazing cars and backstories, one stood out. It was a 1957 Chevy 210, black and white with that perfect patina that says, “I was lost, but now I’m found. I’m ready for action.” Know what we mean? It’s that look a car gets when it’s been through some hard times, but is solid underneath the scuffs and surface. It totally makes sense that the ’57 gave off that vibe, because it was built as a tribute to David Jr.’s son Casey, who was killed in a car accident just a year ago. Casey was 20 years old, and his death was a huge loss to the tight-knit Strom family. Becky cried when she told us about Casey and even the placid David Sr. had a little quaver in his voice. It was Casey who’d found the black ’57 in the barn, and he was in the process of purchasing it before the accident. His family decided to complete the project as a memorial to him, and the drive to Baytown, Texas on Sunday, June 12 was the finished car’s maiden voyage. So the Stroms have been through a hard time too, and maybe have a little patina of their own. The car’s nickname is Cinderella, “Cause she’s got new shoes and is going to the ball.”
The Cinderella Chevy sits on a Rick Stevens tube-chassis with an Art Morrison back-half. A bored out small block sports a Procharger and Holley EFI. “We’re still learning that,” says Sr. “We’ve always been carburetor folks.” We teased him about gunning for Jeff Lutz with their black street legal drag ’57, and David laughed. “No, not quite, but it rides pretty nice. It’s really a good car.” A Powerglide and Gear Vendors overdrive make a Ford 9-inch with 4.56 rear gears much more streetable. At Baytown they made some no-time drag passes and reported that the car tracked straight and true. The next day it made the drive to Circuit of the Americas without a glitch, and joined HOT ROD’s Project X for a photo shoot on the track. It was an emotional moment, but the story sort of sums up Power Tour, and hot rodding in general. Help people when you can, do what you love, and celebrate the friends and family around you.
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