Outback Australia is the last place you would expect to find a '57 sedan delivery, but that's just where Tony Porter picked up this blue beauty-literally. Back in 1995, Tony was putting the finishing touches on his 350 Chevy-powered '63 GM Holden street machine. He was thumbing through the classifieds in an Aussie classic cars magazine when saw an ad for a "Rare '57 Chev" placed under the letter "R."
Tony rang the number and discovered it was a sedan delivery, and although it was not the coupe or convertible he thought it might have been, it was indeed a rare find on Australian soil.
Tony drove out west to look at the car. He found it scattered in pieces around a dry backyard. And even though the 350 small-block in his freshly painted '63 Holden was barely run in, he traded it for the sedan delivery, picked up the pieces, and drove the whole lot home.
Tony's '57 is one of two or three similar cars on Aussie streets, but the sedan delivery concept is not new to Aussie street machiners. Aussie manufacturers have been building the Australian version of the sedan delivery, known as a "panel van," for many years.
The steel-sided wagons were built to carry the tools of tradesmen, and they were often used to carry surfboards, becoming the "Woody" of Aussie surf culture. Panel vans were so popular in Australian surf culture that the big three were building V-8-powered four-speed sports vans through the '70s and '80s. With the recent popularity of retro surf vehicles like Chrysler's PT Cruiser, GM Australia has recently announced plans to once again produce Chevy-powered "Sandman" panel vans.
When Tony finally gathered together the scattered pieces of his new project back in his garage in Wagga Wagga in western New South Wales, he was pleased to find that he had swapped his '63 Holden for a relatively straight and rust-free body. From the beginning, Tony planned to build a custom cruiser that he could drive comfortably to the many rod runs that happen on Australia's east coast. Over an 18-month period, Tony built a car in true custom cruising style, doing all but the paint and upholstery himself.
Tony chose a propane-powered small-block for motivation because they are around 40 percent cheaper to run in Australia-the cavernous space behind the seat of the '57 could easily accommodate the large steel gas cylinder, and he could carefully route, hide, or cover the rest of the gas paraphernalia in the '57's body spaces.
For the rest of the car, Tony stuck to the true California-custom theme; he fitted a simple but comfortable interior with a few billet highlights, moon hub caps, Bel Air side trim, whitewall tires, lake pipes, and a bright but pastel blue paint job.
It's a long way from western New South Wales to the coast, but Tony's custom sedan delivery can always get him there in style. And you can bet that when this pastel blue cruiser arrives on any coastal boulevard, it has every PT Cruiser driver turning green with envy...because as the sticker on Tony's tailgate says, this car is "Classic not plastic."