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Woody’s Hot Rodz builds a new 1957 Chevy

Ron Ceridono May 31, 2017
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One of Chevrolet's famous ad jingles began with "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." That tune was sung by a number of performers, including Dinah Shore and Pat Boone on Chevrolet-sponsored TV programs through the '60s, and all these years later we're taking the lyrics to heart. We're going to see the USA in our Chevrolet, a new Golden Star Auto Parts reproduction 1957 convertible built by Woody's Hot Rodz. Riding on one of the Roadster Shop's new SPEC Tri-Five chassis, power for our repop ragtop will be provided by a crate ZZ6 from the Road Tour's presenting sponsor, Chevrolet Performance, and ARP fasteners will be used to hold it all together.

Unlike some of the Road Tour cars of the past, conventional body repair won't be needed in this case, but some assembly will required. That's because Chris Sondles's team at Woody's will be putting together the new body stampings from Golden Star. Known for quality reproduction body and trim parts for GM, Ford, and Mopar cars and trucks, the Texas-based firm went all-in and began producing complete Chevrolet bodies and trim components for 1955 two-door sedans, hardtops, and convertibles; 1956 convertibles; 1957 two-door sedans, hardtops, and convertibles. No matter what's needed for a Tri-Five Chevy, from bumper brackets to everything in-between, Golden Star makes it and Woody's Hot Rodz retail (855-567-1957) can supply it.

To see how one of Golden Star's bodies is assembled we went to Woody's new facility in Bright, Indiana. They have a considerable amount of know-how, building all the variations, in fact their experience and expertise are two of the reasons Woody's is officially licensed by Chevrolet Performance, which we can tell you is no small accomplishment.

During our stay at Woody's, the hardest thing we had to do was to get Jerry Taylor to hold still long enough for Robert McGaffin to take photos. Taylor knows better than anyone how to put one of these bodies together and we watched in awe as he turned boxes of sheetmetal into a new 1957 Chevy convertible. Starting from the floorpan and then working to the rear from the cowl, each new panel made the structure more rigid and more closely resemble a car. Finally, after countless dimensional checks and miles of Miller Electric Manufacturing Company welding wire, Taylor stepped back and there was a complete body.

With the body assembled there were seams to fill, minor alignment issues to address, and there were test-fits of the top assembly and windshield. Once all the inspections were conducted and passed, our 1957 was off to the paint shop to be covered in PPG epoxy primer, after which the body will be mounted on the Roadster Shop SPEC Tri-Five chassis. We're getting ready to go on the 2017ARP/STREET RODDER Road Tour. This year is the biggest yet with 10 individual tour routes. Join us for one or all; check streetrodder.com for more information.

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Woody's Hot Rodz is unique in that they are licensed by Chevrolet to offer 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevrolet reproduction bodies built with Golden Star Auto Parts sheetmetal.

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There are lots of individual pieces that have to be assembled to create our 1957 Chevrolet convertible. All the welding is done with the latest equipment from Miller Electric Manufacturing Company.

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It takes some serious machinery to shape steel body parts. Golden Star's stampings are known for quality and accuracy.

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These racks hold left and right inner sedan door stampings, particularly difficult pieces to make.

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Jerry Taylor (left) and Chris Sondles (right) take the first step in building the 2017 ARP/STREET RODDER Road Tour Chevy, attaching the floorpan to the assembly jig that's secured to the shop floor.

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With the floor secured to the jig the firewall is attached. These reproduction bodies are put together with significantly more welding than the original.

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Next to go on are the cowl sections. Note the continuous welds—in many places there are more and better welds than those found on the original bodies.

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A simple fixture holds the cowl in place while the windshield posts and upper frame are clamped together. After verifying multiple measurements the components are welded solid.

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As with the original bodies, captured nut plates attached to the cowl allow the door hinges to be adjusted.

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After the cowl is completely welded the doors are hung on the new hinges. The holes in the hinges are slightly oversize to allow adjustment.

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Next to go on are the rocker panels. The gaps at the bottoms of the doors are checked before final welding.

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Satisfied with the door and rocker panel fit, Taylor moved onto installing the inner quarter-panels.

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With the inner quarter-panels in place the latch panel and the inner braces are installed.

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There are countless measurements to be made when assembling a body; here Taylor checks the trunklid opening.

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With the trunk opening within specs, the hinges and filler panel are installed.

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Next to be put in place is the trunklid. The gap with the filler panel is then verified.

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Installing those readily identifiable quarter-panels leaves no doubt this is a 1957 Chevy. From this angle it's apparent the Golden Star panels are as straight if not better that original stampings.

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Here the inner portion of the rear fin and the trunk weather seal channel are aligned with the quarter-panel.

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When applicable all the body panels are fit to original components, such as this 1957 taillight housing. In the examples we looked at the bodies assembled at Woody's fit better than the originals.

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With the body assembled, Tim Maurer does a test-fit of the AM Hot Rod Glass acrylic windshield. The side windows will also come from AM Hot Rod Glass.

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To prevent any moisture or fumes from entering the passenger compartment, all the joints are treated to a bead of factory-style seam sealer.

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The next stop is the body shop where Chris Baldwin and Brian Graber did a test-fit of the folding top assembly.

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Satisfied with the fit of the top frame, Chris covered the body with white epoxy primer from PPG.

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Back from the paint booth, the new 1957 body is ready to be reunited with the equally new Roadster Shop Chassis SPEC Tri-Five chassis.

Photography by Robert McGaffin

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