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Nick & Kaye 57 – 2 door sedan bell air rebuild

We bought our Chev in November 2010. We also own a 65 Mustang coupe and a 1938 Ford Coupe. Brother Bill had his lovely 56 2 door sedan and Kaye and I both liked the look of the tri-fives so when the 57 became available we did not think long before making an offer on it. It then became her car and she took over the decision making process for the colours, upholstery etc.

It was driveable but the body was in undercoat and all of the trim and windows had been removed. It is a California car and had been registered up till the end of 2008. There was rust in parts of the floor, some damage in the left rear quarter and other minor bits of damage which would require repair.

We pondered whether to convert it to right hand drive but having previously owned a left hand drive car, and looking at the potential effort to convert it, we decided to leave it as was. Early on we purchased a Vintage Air unit off Rohan Hutson and a Dakota Digital dash off Glen Rulach.

Our initial thoughts were to replace the front floors, repair the rear quarter, paint underneath and put a budget coat of paint on to give us a family cruiser that would also be a tow car. The mechanicals seemed good so no plans to change. It appeared that a lot of mechanical work had recently been done as the ball joints and rubbers all looked new, as did the front rotors and calipers. As I said that was our initial thoughts.

The first step was to take the body off and put it on Dave Hall’s rotisserie. We stripped the chassis, cleaned and prepared it at home and Kaye then applied POR 15 Grey to it, and she also painted the motor and auto in POR 15 Engine Black. It appeared that a 350 crate motor had been put in along with a TH350 auto but they showed little evidence of use.

A new rear cross member and shocker mount was fashioned by Bill.

The body then went to Bill’s place for new front floors, rear boot section and rear quarter repair. A sedan rear door section and a new lower quarter section saw the body repair done. Back home then for cleaning prep and POR 15 Black to the floors both in and out, and under dash and boot. The body was then put back on the chassis prior to being stripped of paint.

The body was then delivered to Creative Custom Cars in Dromana for repairs, prep and paint. Kaye and I spent lots of hours there helping with the cleaning and rubbing back. During this time, any thoughts of a budget job were well and truly thrown out the window.

After paint, the assembled car went back to Bill’s for the creation of a custom wiring loom, installation of the Dakota Digital Dash , Vintage Air, new brake lines, fuel lines and engine accessories.

It was now able to be driven and came back home for the installation of glass, trims interior etc before a trip to Dave Hall for the stainless exhaust and Towbar. Kaye had painted the extractors with a silver exhaust paint.

While the car was still at Creative, the original rear insert and stainless trim had been fitted, but the more we looked at it, the less we liked the quality of it. Several people suggested the idea of Air brushing and after getting a quote to have it done and finding that it was comparable to buying new.

parts, we went down that path. The custom painting turned out fantastic and we have no regrets in going that path.

While this was being done and windows were fitted, the upholstery was also made up and installed. A new hood lining and sun visors were supplied by Ciadella. From ordering to deliver at our front door took less than a week. The original seats and new door cards were covered in cream leather.

The boot trim and panels were all done at home by Kaye.

It was finally ready for registration in March 2014 and while driveable, gave us a series of problems resulting in the purchase of, a new fuel tank, two new fuel pickups, electronic distributer and 3.08 diff to replace the standard 3.36.

One of our first outings was to tow our caravan to the Hot Rod Nationals in Newcastle. This event was plagued with rain and the car spent most of the weekend under a cover and surrounded by a sea of mud.

The car has featured in the Victorian Hot Rod Show twice, once on the Bay Rodders stand when it took out Top Custom Classic, and once on the Chev Club Stand.

We also took it to Sydney for Motorex in 2015. Although it did not win anything, it was a fantastic experience that we thoroughly enjoyed.

6 years on we now have a beautiful cruiser which has also earned a number of awards. It has done nearly 30,000 klms and a lot of them have been with a caravan behind. A couple of years ago we did up an older van to use when we attend car events.

For the techos,

Motor 350, auto TH350, diff Standard 3.08, front brakes Camaro with 305mm rotors, rear standard.

It was dynode at Chev’s in Seaford when the new dissy went in and made 220 HP at the rear wheels.


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