Wendell took on the project enthusiastically, but instead of trying to find just any 210 two-door wagon, Wendell proposed to the Gittleman'strying to find Bob's original car. Even though they were skeptical, they gave the thumbs up for Wendell to start the search. Starting with the first person Bob sold the car to, Wendell searched through various Classic Chevy club records and other sources, tracking the car's VIN to see where the car had ended up. The search ended in Orlando, where the car sat behind a house, waiting to be restored by the current owner. Wendell knew he hit pay dirt when he first saw the car, the old decaloutlines still on the rear windows. A deal was struck, and Wendell leftwith Bob Gittleman's original race car.
Fortunately, the car was largely intact, and Wendell's restoration of the car was outstanding. Every piece of original sheetmetal that could be saved was, and the usual Tri-5 cancer spots were repaired to as-new condition. Ironically, his knowledge of the car from "the old days" proved handy in his task of bringing the Xcellerator back to mid-'60s life. Wendell was an integral member of the South Florida Timing Association, and personally knew the car from its days as a drag stripwarrior. Along with info and pictures Gary and Keith had put together, Wendell returned the '57 wagon to almost exactly the way it was when Bobowned the car.
For power, the Gittlemans went to well-known engine builder Dave Waltersfor a 383 small-block pumping out 467 hp. Working with Wendell, they made the 383 look like the original 270hp 283, complete with dual quads and finned Corvette valvecovers. For better streetability, a Richmond five-speed was tasked with handling the power of the 383 and getting it to the rear wheels through a Currie 9-inch rear. Walter's Engineering fabricated a handmade set of traction bars for the car, so that, top to bottom, the '57 looks just like it did in the 1960s when Bob was racing.
Gary and Keith Gittleman also deserve considerable credit for seeing thejob through. Bob was once again able to see and enjoy the car shortly before he passed away in 2000. You can see mirrored in his son's eyes how much their dad loved that high-revving,'57 Chevy.