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1957 Chevy Bel Air - Project American Heroes, Part 1

The Mission: Build A 1957 Chevy To Help U.S. War Veterans Of Iraq And Afghanistan.

By Arvid Svendsen, Photography by Arvid Svendsen

PROJECT AMERICAN HEROES ONLINE ARCHIVE

Here they are, the links to all the stories about Project American Heroes, live on the Super Chevy website. Just click on the links below to see the story you're interested in!

Part 1 - Project American Heroes Part 1 - Aug. '07 Issue

Part 2 - Project American Heroes - Brake'em Up, Line'em Up - Sept. '07 Issue

Part 3 - Project American Heroes - Bringing Up The Rear - Sept. '07 Issue

Part 4 - Project American Heroes Chassis Build - Chevy Classics 2007

Part 5a - Project American Heroes - Shock & Awe - Oct. '07 Issue

Part 5b - Project American Heroes Part 5 - Dec. '07 Issue

Part 6 - Project American Heroes Part 6 - Jan. '08 Issue

Click here to see Project American Heroes in Washington D.C.

Click here to see Project American Heroes on the auction block at Barrett-Jackson West Palm Beach

Our country is great because so many Americans have been willing to protect our country by serving in the armed forces. Indisputably recognized as "American Heroes," many of them have sacrificed their lives for their country. Others have been seriously wounded in battle, resulting in life altering consequences. It's our privilege to come alongside those who have paid so great a sacrifice, and support the families of our military personnel who have been wounded in the line of duty. No matter what the opinion of the legitimacy of the wars in which this country is engaged, the people of the United States have consistently demonstrated their character and strength by the unanimous support of our men and women in uniform.

Now, a team of hot rodders has come together to build a state-of-the-art, up-to-the-minute 1957 Chevy convertible, in an effort that is being called Project American Heroes. The car will tour the country, allowing people to donate to the families of wounded service members. Then in January 2008, Project American Heroes will be auctioned off, commission free, at the Barrett-Jackson auction, in Scottsdale, Arizona. All proceeds will be donated to the Armed Forces Foundation to serve the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their families.

In order to involve the men and women of the U.S. military, there is an exclusive opportunity for them to go to the website, www.projectamericanheroes.org, and vote for one of the seven renderings posted. Once a winning rendering is chosen, you'll be able to read about it right here in Super Chevy. The website also gives visitors the opportunity to donate online to the Armed Forces Foundation. Let's support our troops, break out the plastic, and help us get Project American Heroes rolling.

So much for the preliminaries, now let's talk hardware. Put simply, this 1957 Chevy features the finest parts on the market. As a foundation, Project American Heroes will roll on Roadster Shop's Tri-Five chassis. Not content to use bent square tubing, the chassis features hand-sculpted framerails that offer the ultimate package in both strength and appearance. The Roadster Shop Tri-Five chassis, which is built in the company's shop in Elgin, Illinois, gives a 3-inch drop in ride height, and the ability to bolt it in using the stock factory body mount locations. Owner Neil Gerber and his sons, Phil and Jeremy, describe their chassis as transforming the driving experience of one of the most beautiful cars ever made from archaic '50s standards to the best handling characteristics of any modern day performance car.

"The stock Tri-Five Chevy drives like a boat. Take any car from that era, and it just wanders down the street. It rocks and rolls, you get a fairly smooth ride out of it, but steering, going around corners, or going down the highway ... it's pretty much all over the place. It takes two hands on the steering wheel to control the car. You feel good because people are looking it at, but the driving experience is not very enjoyable," says Neil. "It's an effort to drive those cars. The whole concept behind a street rod chassis, or our Tri-Five Chassis, is to transform the handling to the level of a late model sports car. It'll ride, it'll handle, it'll go around corners. You go down the highway at 75 mph effortlessly. The Tri-Five chassis will take greater amounts of horsepower, like a big-block motor with a late model transmission, and be able to put it to the ground at the level of the best performance car that you can drive out of the factory dealer's showroom floor."

The ironman rigidity of the Roadster Shop chassis allows the Heidt's Hot Rod Shop Superide II independent front suspension and Triangulated Four Bar rear suspension to work. Gerber comments: "Heidt's is without a doubt an excellent manufacturer. It has great service, and the products just plain work. They carry a front end for every chassis we make." The Roadster Shop can equip its Tri-Five chassis with Heidt's independent rear suspension for the ultimate in handling, should the owner desire.

The heavy gauge, American-made, 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible spot-welded metal shell is supplied by Cars Inc. The "core" of the body from Cars Inc. is an original '57 cowl section with a factory serial number. The rest of the car is made with exact reproduction sheetmetal that sets the gold standard for fitment and quality. This restored body comes complete with all fenders, quarters, braces, pans, and even the convertible top bow assembly. Having a particular fondness for '57s, this particular writer was found gawking and drooling over the impeccable quality of the body for hours. The Cars Inc. '57 Bel Air body sitting at the Roadster Shop in Elgin, Illinois, appears to have been plucked off the assembly line 50 years ago, and perfectly preserved for the Project American Heroes build.

The build will also include a full slate of suppliers of the very best equipment available. Flaming River power rack-and-pinion steering will ensure that the '57 goes where it's pointed. Project American Heroes will also feature a stout Moser Engineering solid rear axle. Air Ride Technologies will not only provide ride height adjustability, it will produce the optimum combination of performance, reliability, and ride comfort. Intro Wheels will mount Nitto Tires that will fill the wheelwells nicely. Providing the stopping power will be binders from Stainless Steel Brakes.

The motor build will be covered in next month's Super Chevy, so stay tuned. To former and current members of the armed forces, we express our gratitude for your efforts to keep this nation strong and secure. The Project American Heroes team will be building this '57 as an expression of our respect for your patriotic service.

SOURCES
Cars Inc. Heidt's Hot Rod Shop
111 Kerry Ln.
Wauconda
IL  60084
8-00/-841-8188
www.heidts.com
The Roadster Shop
http://www.roadstershop.com
Flaming River
800 Poertner Dr.
Berea
OH  44017
N/A
4-40/-826-4488
www.flaming-river.com
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By Arvid Svendsen
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