We hop into the '57, slam the doors, and buckle up. I turn the starter key and the LT1 fires quickly. After the motor runs for a few seconds, the throaty idle drops down and I gently slide the short-throw shifter into reverse. The smooth feeling of the T-56 transmission goes right through my fingers as I let out the clutch. We leave Paul Newman's driveway and I hammer the throttle. The '57 wagon responds instantly with no wheel hop and no traction loss. After pulling third gear at well over 85 mph, I slow for a set of S-curves; but to my surprise, not a single peep from the tires, nor is there any indication of loss of traction. After retuning from our little jaunt around the rural streets of Templeton, California, chassis builder, Paul Newman, sees my grin from ear to ear and responds by telling me that I can't take the '57 home with me.
It's no big secret that Tri-Five Chevrolets aren't great in the handling department. For most people, that isn't a problem. For those of you who only take your '55 to and from the Saturday night cruise, and put 1,500 mile a year on your machine you probably won't be able to appreciate the engineering behind a C4-equipped Tri-Five. But, for those of you who love nothing more that eating a turbo Porsche through a twisty canyon, look no further.
Paul Newman, of Newman Car Creations has been modifying Tri-Five Chevys for nearly a decade. A few years ago Paul decided he needed a test mule, a vehicle he could use for test rides with perspective clients. While he wanted a two-door Nomad, a four-door 210 was what came along at the right time. In retrospect, Paul realized that school carpool, grocery shopping, and family vacations are better served with a four-door. But unlike most four-doors, Paul's lil' wagon can spank most street machines.
After purchasing the '57 for an unbelievable $3,500, he brought her home and fixed the immediate issues. He proceeded to drive the '57 around in stock condition for a year before beginning the conversion. With only 45,000 original miles, the '57 needed no cosmetic work nor did it need any major interior work. After pulling the body off, the original engine, transmission, suspension, and rearend were removed in lieu of the newer injected LT1/T-56 and Corvette suspension. While the conversion is much easier said than done, Car Creations does nearly 60 conversions per year, as you can imagine they're pretty efficient at their jobs.
When the suspension and powertrain were complete, Paul dropped the body back into place and had a set of Corvette rollers custom painted with matching center caps to boot. For historic reasons Paul tried to keep as much of the interior as stock as humanly possible. To keep an eye on the mechanicals an oil pressure, tachometer, volt gauge, and water temperature gauge were installed as well as a set of Scat bucket seats.
Just to prove that Newman Car Creation would stand behind their work, Paul brought out his wagon to California Speedway for the SUPER CHEVY staff to evaluate the performance in a race environment. After hours of rigorous Road Rage testing, Paul's shoebox yielded numbers superior to our '02 Z28 Camaro. If you don't believe it, keep on readin' 'cause the numbers speak for themselves. Not only is Paul lucky enough to drive the ultimate four-door Porsche spankin' wagon around, but he gets to play with them for a living!