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1957 Chevrolet Corvette National Roadster Show Winner

From the Archives: Oakland Show Champ

Drew Hardin Nov 6, 2017
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Reviewing the film shot at the 1960 National Roadster Show in Oakland (California) makes it clear that Vettes were popular subjects for customizing, likely due to the malleable nature of their fiberglass envelopes.

We’re not sure, though, that’s the right word to describe the starting point of the 1957 Vette Bob Yoas brought to the show. “Wreck” is more like it. As described in the June 1960 issue of Hot Rod magazine, it was a “total,” with “the front end completely smashed.”

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That didn’t deter Bob. He took the car to Bertolucci’s Body Shop in his hometown of Sacramento, where he built a new front-end frame out of wire mesh. He and the shop then fabricated the reshaped nose in a mold before blending it into new front fenders. The grille opening retained the original ’57 chrome rim, but the stock toothy grille was replaced by rows and rows of square-shaped drawer pulls, flanked by Oldsmobile lights. The Vette’s headlights were recessed in chrome tunnels and covered with Plexiglas.

Compared to the front restyle, the rear of the Vette “received only minor treatment,” said Hot Rod. The decklid was shaved, more drawer pulls were set into two Lucite panels surrounded by nerf-bar-type tubing, and the taillights were swapped for bullet-shaped rear lenses from a ’59 Cadillac.

“Change those greasy Levi’s and take off your shoes before you enter,” warned the magazine, as Yoas redid the Vette’s interior in Pristine White naugahyde and carpet.

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Hot Rod said Bertolucci’s painted the Vette in 35 coats of Candy Apple Red and Pearlescent White lacquer. Motor Trend, which also wrote about the Vette in its June 1960 issue, called the paint a “rust-and-pearl color scheme.” It’s impossible to tell the color from Eric Rickman’s black-and-white photos, though the dark tone of the paint makes it look more red than rust. However, there are color photos of Yoas’ Vette on the authoritative website kustomrama.com that make the car look coated in a dusty rose hue. Kustomrama describes the paint as Tingua Rust and Acrylic Pearl.

Whatever the color, it and the workmanship on the distinctive bodywork must have impressed the Oakland judges, as they gave Yoas the Sports Roadster Class win.

Photos by Eric Rickman and Petersen Publishing Co. Archive

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