1957 Chevy Bel Air - Expect The Unexpected

For Good Or Bad

Dakota Wentz Oct 1, 2004 0 Comment(s)
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Always expect the unexpected. Isn't that what they always say? And to tell you the truth things couldn't be more correct. Because just when you began to think everything is up and running, the unexpected comes sure as the Chiefs are going to take it all this year. Okay, how about as sure as taxes are due come April 15. Just ask Tom Smith, he'll tell you all about the unexpected.

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In 1979 Tom set out to buy a '57 Chevy Bel Air. As he was cruising over to guys house where a '57 was for sale he happened to notice a wrecked '57 off to the side of the road. It had a cracked windshield and had been hit down the right side, but other than that, she was a real beaut. He forked over 400 bucks for the Chevy and went to work. The car was rockin' a 283 with a three-speed, power steering, power brakes, and had black interior in it. Tom figured that would be okay for the time being, but the green paint had to go. He painted the car orange with a gold flake in it. The next 9 months were smooth sailing until the unexpected happened. The engine caught fire and that was the end of it. He dissembled the car to get a start at fixing it back up, but ultimately lost interest in it all together.

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When Tom starting dating his wife, Theresa, she got him motivated to get back to work on the car. Of course this was after the car had already sat for nearly a decade. The original plan was to turn it into a weekend streeter, however as the process of rebuilding took place the car was turning out much nicer than expected. Tom decided to do a complete frame-off restoration. The '57 was sent to the body shop, which happens to be owned by Theresa and her family, where it was prepped and painted PPG Hugger orange. As for the motor, the 283 was long gone. A '77 454 came along which was bored out .60 which ended up giving the '57 a no slouch 570hp 468ci Rat. The same quality touch was given to the not so stock interior. With Firebird buckets, lots of billet, and cream and Ostrich leather the interior is top notch as well. Just for the record, the interior was Tom's birthday present from Theresa. Talk about unexpected!


Tom Smith

'57 Bel Air

'77 Chevrolet 468, Aluminum Bowtie heads, J&E pistons, Edelbrock Performer RPM camshaft, Edelbrock Performer RPM Airgap intake manifold, Holley 830 carburetor, K&N air cleaner, MSD ignition, Dynomax headers, Flowmaster mufflers, machined by Button Automotive in O'Fallon, MO, estimated 570 hp

'03 Tremec TKO five-speed, Hay's street & strip clutch

Ford 9-inch with Moser 31-spline axles

PPG Hugger Orange

Parmentier Auto Body, Inc in Washington, MO (636/239-6240)

Chevrolet 468

'95 Firebird seats, upholstered in cream and Ostrich leather, almond Auto Custom Carpet kit, Auto Meter gauges, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Hurst shifter, Specialties steering wheel, Hurst shifter, custom dash, Mark Bielmann Fabrications roll bar, upholstered by Mutert's Auto Detailand Upholstery, Wentzville, MO

(F) Heidt's 2 1/2-inch drop spindles, Monroe gas shocks
(R) Chris Alston springs, Alston shocks, ladder bar coilover rear suspension by B&D Fabrication in Villa Ridge, MO

(F) Weld Pro Star 15x6 inches
(R) Weld Pro Star 15x10 inches

(F) BFGoodrich Touring TA P195/65R1
(R) BFGoodrich Drag Radial P315/60R15


Tom Smith's '57 Bel Air sports a 468 Rat engine making 570hp all backed by a Tremec TKO 5 speed transmission in combination to ...
Dakota Wentz Oct 1, 2004


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