1957 Chevy Bel Airs - I...Love...'57 Chevys

With Continental Kits...Skirts That Fit...And Twins

Dakota Wentz Jun 15, 2006 0 Comment(s)
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Everyone knows what a twin is; figuring it out isn't exactly trying to break the code of a Rubik's Cube...or is it? When I was in seventh-grade, I used to hang out with this guy who was a year older than me. One day, we were hanging out at "the steps" when one of the eighth-grade girls walked by and waved to him. Immediately, I followed with "You know her? She's so hot," which was then followed by, "That's my twin sister." Like many twins who aren't identical, John Lewis' '57 hardtop and Norm Correll's '57 drop-top follow suit in the fraternal-twin way of things. While both cars are '57 Chevys, have continental kits, skirts, and are basically stock-appearing, each one has a look and attitude all its own.

Let's start with Norm's '57 convertible. He has always been into cars, and one day completely out of the blue, a friend of his called and said that his sister was getting a divorce, and was selling her old car. The friend didn't know what kind of "old" car it was, but thought that Norm-a car buff-might be interested. When the garage door slung open, Norm peeped his eyes on the back of the '57 drop-top with a continental kit. He told the guy he'd take it, just in the nick of time. When he called the bank to pay off the previous owner's loan the next day, the loan officer told him that the car was going to be repossessed and that there was a lottery at the bank to see who the next owner would be. For the next 15 years, Norm drove the car as is, but when the time was right, the '57 was stripped down and completely restored. The body was taken to Paint 'N' Place in Placentia, California, where they fixed a few minor dings and dents, and then laid down the harbor blue paint job. Once finished there, Orange Auto Upholstery installed a new interior kit, carpet, and top from C.A.R.S. So far, everything was back to stock. But the problem was Norm liked driving the car so much, he decided to modernize by dropping in a 350/350-horse engine with a 700R tranny. He then purchased a disc brake kit with 2-inch drop spindles from ABS in Orange, California. The new parts now make the '57 stock, but not.

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As for John and his '57 hardtop, it's a similar story, but not exactly identical. Since the day he laid eyes on a '57 Chevy, he has wanted a bone-stock ride of his own. In 1958, when John was in high school, these cars were everywhere, but money wasn't exactly seeping from his pockets. As he got older, he's found out that building a car is much easier than finding one. In fact, his '57, more or less, found him. John found an ad in Hemmings Motor News for a '57, but by the time he had called, the car was gone. He asked the guy if he knew of any other available '57s in the area. Nearly a week later, the guy called back saying there was an elderly couple with a stock '57 that might be interested in selling it. Needless to say, the minute he saw the pictures he hopped on a plane and headed for Santa Rosa, California, to pick up his high school dream car.

Unlike Norm's plan, John had every intention of restoring the '57 back to showroom condition. Upon the car's homecoming, he blew through the '57 and tore it down completely bare. The 283, rearend, and Powerglide tranny were sent out to be rebuilt, and the naked body was headed in the direction of Diamond Coats for paint and body. With Elio of Diamond Coats as the "head of operations" and John as the "grunt," the body was worked back to perfection then painted PPG Sierra Gold and Adobe Beige. The original black, Sierra Gold, and beige interior were also reworked to former glory. In the end, John's '57 is shockingly stock.

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