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A Brain Surgeon’s Bespoke Dream 1957 Chevy

John Gilbert Mar 8, 2017
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There's a definite Colorado connection associated with the 1957 Chevy 210 two-door sedan featured here, and it begins with the car's earliest days as a Dusk Pearl 1957 Chevy sold new with Colorado license plates. After four or so decades of Colorado registration the now-faded Mauve-hued 1957 Chevy found its way to Enid, Oklahoma, as a family inheritance. The years spent in Colorado had taken its toll on the 1957 Chevy, so the inheritors contacted their friend Harold Clay at Harold's Hot Rod and Custom Shop in Enid, to get an idea what was involved to bring the old Bow Tie back to life. The expenditure for a ground-up restoration was going to be more than the family wanted to invest in the 1957, so Clay bought the Chevy as the basis for a future project.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Pendelton Left Profile 2/46

Not a lot of time had passed when Dr. Bruce Pendleton, an esteemed neurosurgeon and longtime friend of Clay, expressed the desire to build a Tri-Five Chevy to enjoy in his upcoming retirement and subsequent move from Enid to somewhere in Colorado. Clay advised Bruce he'd save money by finding a Tri-Five at auction and then customizing it to suit his tastes, but Bruce knew a bespoke build would deliver the exact car he was looking for.

A deal was struck and Bruce was the new owner of a 1957 Chevy 210 two-door sedan. First on Bruce's list of specific requirements was the old Chevy had to handle like his new Porsche. Clay's solution was to toss out the original Tri-Five frame, and mount an AME (Art Morrison Enterprises) GT Sport Tri-5 chassis under the car. Clay explained because of excellent customer service and repeated successes an AME chassis is the only chassis Harold's Hot Rod and Custom Shop will use. The process starts with a call to AME salesperson Steve Webb, and from there it's a known fact the car is going to handle like it's on rails—mandrel-bent, 2x4-inch rectangular tubing to be exact. Consistent, stable, and predictable handling is accentuated with AME's standard equipment Detroit Speed quick 20:1 ratio power rack-and-pinion steering.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Pendelton 9 3/46

For brakes, springs, and shocks the frontend is equipped with Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes with four-piston calipers, and sprung with Strange Engineering externally adjustable coilover shock absorbers. Up front rolling stock is a pair of 17x8 Schott Performance Americana wheels shod with 245/45/R17 BFGoodrich G-Force Comp-2 tires. The tail end brings up a 3.70-geared 9-inch Strange rearend sprung with Strange externally adjustable coilover shock absorbers, and two Schott Performance Americana 18x10 wheels shod with 275/40R18 BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 tires. The rear brakes are Wilwood 12-inch discs with four-piston calipers.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Pendelton Radiator 4/46

The bodywork Harold's Hot Rod and Custom Shop performed on Bruce's 1957 was a combination of the normally expected having to replace rusted lower quarter-panels along with a fraction of the floor, but it's the fanatical major details Clay undertook to satisfy his own creativity that sets this 1957 Chevy apart from all others. Slab siding is a subtle yet tedious detail that entailed Clay investing countless hours into reshaping the factory-cued bowed doors and quarter-panels by shrinking the sheetmetal until the sides of Bruce's 1957 Chevy were absolutely flat—notice there's no distorted funhouse mirror reflections glaring off the sides.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Pendelton 4 5/46

Thanks to the 1957 Chevys popularity almost back to the year it was introduced, and restoration parts companies like Danchuk, it wasn't hard for Harold's Hot Rod and Custom Shop to outfit the exterior with new trim. Relocating the rear license plate took place by installing a Danchuk 1957 Chevy station wagon bumper. Paul's Chrome Plating of Evans City, Pennsylvania, handled the chrome plating work.

A peek inside reveals a totally custom one-off interior by CRI (Chuck Rowland Interiors) of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Look closer at the center of the dashboard and don't be fooled by the radio-delete plate, just below it Lynn Lamb installed a state-of-the-art sound system using a Clarion head unit backed with Oklahoma-grown Kicker amp and speakers. The factory original look continues thanks to a Vintage Air Sure Fit system that operates from a stock 1957 Chevy control panel; an armada of billet louvers (vents) disperses ice-cold A/C throughout. Perhaps one of the most iconic gauge clusters ever, the stock 1957 Chevy unit is fitted with Classic Instruments' instruments adding yet another authentic stock touch while incorporating an upgrade. The steering wheel is a Billet Specialties mounted on an ididit steering column and power windows by New Relics. The wiring is an American Auto Wire harness custom installed by Wayne Chronister of Noble, Oklahoma.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Pendelton Engine Overview 6/46

Bruce's Chevy left Harold's Hot Rods with a fresh wall-to-wall flooring of Dynamat thermal acoustic mat, and then Chuck Rowland Interiors (CRI) laid Russet-colored cut pile carpeting color matched to the upholstery. The front buckets and rear bucket-bench seats were custom fabricated in-house by CRI, starting with bending the steel tubing to TIG welding and then deep padded with CNC water jet profiled high-density foam. Rowland hand cutting the patterns and stitching Russet-dyed European leather together with French seams was the finishing touch. A Lokar shifter sits nestled in a CRI custom-fabricated center console wrapped in Russet leather.

Harold christened Bruce's 1957 Chevy "Doc Holiday" because every time he reached Bruce by cell with a progress report the doctor was on holiday with his wife in their motorhome exploring the countryside.

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