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1957 Chevy Roadster - Thinking Outside The Shoebox

Rolling In The Ron Air Roadster

Andrew Schear Aug 1, 2003
Sucp_0308_01_z 1957_chevy_roadster Wheels 2/8

Most of us believe that we've seen our fair share of Chevy classics. The reality is that there are way too many cool cars that never see magazine pages simply because few people know that these cars even exist. This leads us to our next point of how lucky we feel that we found Ron Larson's '57 Chevy. Fortunately for us, we received an e-mail from our cohorts at Lowrider magazine describing a very unique '57 Chevy roadster that they knew our readers would love. Boy, were they right!

As a longtime Chevy enthusiast and SUPER CHEVY reader, Ron has owned everything from First-Gen Z/28s to K5 Blazers and everything in between. But he always wanted a '57 Chevy. A few years back, Ron recalls taking a trip to his uncle's house, who happened to have a clean '57 hard top in the garage. By the end of the visit he found out that his uncle was interested in selling the car, which sent Ron's imagination into overdrive. Within minutes a deal had been struck for Ron to take the Tri-Five home a few days later. After the trek to Lancaster, California, Ron jumped headfirst into his newfound project and had it running in no time. A few months later, Ron came to the realization that a full restoration was inevitable, and now was as good a time as ever to get started.

One morning Ron had the wild hair to cut the top off the '57, so with a reciprocating saw in one hand and a plasma cutter in the other he performed impulsive surgery that would no doubt change the '57 forever. After the cutting was done Ron realized that he was in a little over his head and would soon be seeking the assistance of a pro-builder in Southern California. He took the '57 to Pro Design, in Santa Ana, after a friend had highly recommended their work. After receiving the freshly chopped '57, Ron and the guys at Pro Design hammered out a plan of attack that would eventually turn a docile '57 Chevy into the slammed, blown bad boy that it is today.

The first steps to the project were separating the body and the frame. After the frame was stripped and prepped for the Lincoln rearend, the stock front suspension was upgraded with tubular A-arms and Heidt's dropped spindles. With the suspension almost complete, a set of Baer 13-inch brakes were installed at all four corners to complement the 6-71 blown mouse motor that was in the works. After the rolling frame was complete, the carcass was dropped back on the chassis and sent to Doug at Star Side Design in Riverside, California, for finishing bodywork and paint. Following the sheet metal fitment the body was covered in House of Color True Blue Pearl and then flamed with a different shade of candy pearl basecoat. After the clear had been applied the finish was sanded smooth and buffed to a high-gloss shine.

As the project was nearing reassembly, Pro Design and Ron began assembling the body and tweaking the finishing touches. With the '57 90 percent complete, the interior was covered with Mercedes leather by the experts at Bill's Auto Upholstery in Brea, California. With Ron's drop top missing only the motor and trans and some wiring, Ron brought his baby back to his garage to make it driveable. With the powerplant installed, Ron realized he had one more thing missing; a kickin' sound system which would soon be provided by Clarion Electronics. In fact, those of you who went to the 2003 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show may have seen Ron's roadster in the Clarion booth. But even if you didn't, don't feel bad, seeing a Tri-Five this cool in person might be painful, only because it lives in Ron's garage and not our own. If there's one thought that we were left with, it's the thought that "different" can definitely work, even with cars as commonly built as '55-57 Chevys.

Ron Larson
'57 Chevy Roadster

350-inch, four-bolt mains, Dart II iron heads, forged 1010 steel crankshaft, Manley steel rods, Ross 8.5:1 forged blower pistons, Weiand intake manifold, Weiand, 6-71 blower, 10 percent overdriven, MSD 6AL ignition, assembled by Ron Larson

Turbo-400, 10-inch 2,800 rpm converter, built by Mike's Transmission, Lancaster, California

(F)Heidt's 2-inch dropped spindles, Air Ride Technology bags, tubular A-arms
(R)Lincoln Versailles, 4.11:1 posi, Air Ride Technology bags

Budnik Fontana
(F) Yokohama 245/40/20
(R) Goodyear Eagle 275/45/20

Sheetmetal by Pro Design, Santa Ana, California (714/436-1158), paint by Star Side Design, Riverside, California (909/278-3039), House of Color Candy Blue Pearl, striping by Willis Dormer

Glide Industries seats, Mercedes gray leather, Dakota Digital gauges, Budnik steering wheel, B&M shifter, upholstery by Bill's Auto Upholstery, Brea, California

Sound System
Clarion AM/FM CD player with CD/DVD changer control, Clarion 7-inch wide screen LCD color monitor, "Source Commander" multi-zone A/V switcher, 6-disc DVD/CD/MP3 changer, VHS hi-fi VCR with built in tuner, IR wireless headphone system, Power System 6.5-inch separates with crossover network, 10-inch single voice coil subwoofer, 2/1 channel power amplifiers



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