When this author first laid eyes on Zane Cox's '57, it was parked in the lot at Woody's Diner (great food and always a classic car in the lot). This shoebox was hard to miss. Flames are like magnets for car nuts, and this cruiser got my full attention. After a few failed attempts to make our schedules meet to capture this beauty on film, Zane moved and the contact was lost-lost until Zane's '57 showed up more than a year later in the show car field at the Phoenix Super Chevy Show.
Ofcourse flames aren't the only thing that makes this Tri-five stand out. The interior is simple and flawless, as is the engine bay. Way back in 1994 when Zane bought the car, it was in far different condition. Purchased in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was a basket case. Zane bandaged the banged-up 'box together and made it a decent driver, but wanted more. So did his wife, Ardie, who was pregnant at the time and requested seat belts and air conditioning. The quick fix was to buy a Camaro and use it for daily transportation for the growing family.
The '57 sat a short time while the new Camaro got all the attention. The sight of a rusting car isn't easy for any hot rodder to take. When Zane couldn't stand it any more he began a complete transformation on the '57. The plan called for a mild Pro Streeter with reliability as a primary goal. After narrowing the frame a Chris Alston ladder bar setup was added along with Koni coilover shocks for improved traction. Then a Ford 9-inch rearend with 4.11:1 gears and Currie axles was fitted. Koni shocks were used up front and four-wheel disc brakes were added to slow things down. Up front a 2-inch lowering kit brought the ride height to an aggressive stance. The finished frame rolls on a set of Centerline Convo Pro wheels shod in Mickey Thompson extra-sticky tires.
Under the flamed hood resides a mild-mannered GM crate 350. Zane upgraded his powerplant with an Edelbrock camshaft, Erson lifters, ARP pushrods, and an Erson gear drive. The top end features Edelbrock aluminum heads, a Performer intake, and a 750 Edelbrock carb. The fuel mixture is fired with the help of a Mallory HEI ignition. Exhaust then flows out Hooker headers, 2.5-inch pipes, and Flowmaster mufflers. Making a visual statement is becoming harder and harder these days. Not only does the car have to set right, it must also be perfectly straight and have a pleasing paint job. The days of heartbeat graphics are over. To ensure his '57 didn't look like the rest of the fleet at shows, Zane teamed up with Dave Newton and Kory Petty to have the body smoothed out. There was a great deal of rust and the car needed extensive restoration. While at it the door handled were shaved, the firewall was smoothed, and the front windows were converted to single-piece glass.
When the bodywork was completed Kory and Bo Huff laid down a pigment they like to call "Trash Barrel" blue. It's a custom DuPont mixture that goes perfectly with the flames, which were applied by Stella of Salt Lake City. Inside the '57 you might think you'd opened the door to a current street rod. The theme was ultra-clean, and Zane accomplished that with a truly unique interior. The seats are modified late-model GM buckets and covered in ultra leather. The door panels and center console are also custom-fabricated and covered in the same leather. Auto Meter gauges were added to keep an eye on the new engine, while a Pioneer Super Tuner stereo was added for musical entertainment.
After transforming his '57 from humble daily driver to hot hauler we noticed one thing-Zane originally set the car aside because his wife wanted seatbelts and air conditioning. As far as we can tell it still has neither. Hopefully Zane built a comfortable car, because he may have to sleep in it.