As a kid growing up it's hard to know what the future will bring, but Indianapolis, Indiana, native Mike Epps knew exactly what his favorite car was and as soon as he had the money he was going to buy a 1957 Chevrolet. Mike told STREET RODDER he spent his youth building model cars, enjoyed seeing vintage muscle cars cruise Indy's streets, and looked up to the cool cars and their owners. As fate would have it Mike became a successful actor-comedian and the big money needed to build an over-the-top 1957 Chevy followed.
It's no accident the Axalta Candy Apple Red paint glows from deep beneath with a golden cast. It's due to Bonowski spraying a vibrant gold base that harmonizes with the car's 24-karat, gold-plated trim.
The Roadster Shop Chassis is a Fast Track model specified for 1955-1957 Tri-Five Chevrolets. It's made from 10-gauge 4x4-inch steel rails and has a 113-inch wheelbase. The front suspension is IFS with power rack-and-pinion steering C6 Corvette spindles mounted with Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes, and sprung with AFCO Racing coil springs and shock absorbers. A 1.25-inch front antiroll bar reduces body lean. Independent suspension in the rear as well, a Dutchman Motorsports IRS is geared 3.70:1 with 31-spline stub axles connected to CV joints. The rear springs and shock absorbers are AFCO Racing with Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes. A 1.25-inch rear antiroll bar restrains sway. The power boosted brake master cylinder is an ABS electric High Power actuated with 1957 Chevy pedals. The wheels on Mike's Tri-Five convert are Billet Specialties Daggers, 18-inch with 255/35ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sports in front and 20-inch shod with 355/30ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sports in the rear.
For transmission of power Torrance Transmission rebuilt and beefed the 4L65E automatic overdrive transmission, it employs a Compushift computer to control shifting. The custom-made steel driveshaft is from Powertrain Industries of Garden Grove, California.
Mike was very specific about his desires for the convertible's interior appointments, "It has to be plush with Lamborghini-inspired patterns, custom bucket seats and console yet keep a stock feel retaining the original 1957 Chevy gauge cluster, Bel Air steering wheel and steel dashboard—plus a serious 2,500-watt sound system does it!"
Located in San Bernardino, California, Lil' Louie at Red Lizard Moldings hand-shaped the gold-plated and chrome-plated brass moldings found throughout the car. A family owned business since 1953, Artistic Silver Plating in Signal Hill chrome-plated Mike's convertible from bumper to bumper, including the gold plating on Lil' Louie's work. In keeping with Mike's wishes for a factory stock look the dashboard was kept in painted steel, but the radio speaker grille was shaved from the center. The iconic 1957 Chevy gauge cluster retains its stock gauges and an ididit tilt steering column supports a stock diameter Bel Air steering wheel. The long floor shifter is from Lokar and air conditioning via Vintage Air Gen IV.
Located next door to Elegance, Carlos Rodriguez's Art of Sound installed the totally concealed mega sound system. Mike told Carlos he wanted "a gorilla to jump out of the trunk," and that's exactly what Carlos delivered 2,000 more watts than the 2,500 watts Mike expected. Carlos installed a Kenwood DNN990HD head unit to front the 4,500-watt system with a rack of Rockford Fosgate amplifiers and three pairs of Rockford Fosgate Punch Pro Audio speakers. The system's bottom comes two 12-inch subwoofers in a custom sub cabinet underneath a custom rear shelf all custom made by Art of Sound.