Since the first model rolled off the assembly line 60 years ago, the ’57 Chevy has personified the high-style era of fins and chrome.
For Russ St. Germain of Stony Mountain, the search for a rust-free 1957 Chevrolet began in 1977, when he and his brother Paul took a flight to Los Angeles. They found a 210 model two-door sedan with 84,000 original miles on it. Originally purchased from De Long Chevrolet in San Rafael, it was finished in Sierra Gold and Adobe Beige and powered by the six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission. “We drove the car home with no problems,” St. Germain says.
The car underwent several powertrain upgrades over time and went from a rod-run and car-show driver, to a weekend drag car St. Germain raced at Gimli and tracks in Saskatchewan. St. Germain then took time out to get married, buy a house and raise a family, so that left the Chevy sitting in storage for 24 years. In 2011, St. Germain decided it was time to put the ’57 back on the road, but this time as a full resto-mod with modern, powertrain, brakes and suspension.
St. Germain and his friend Wayne Koss dismantled the car and separated the body from the old chassis. With the body mounted on a rotisserie, St. Germain turned it over to Tim Salisbury for a full-body restoration and final paint preparation, before Salisbury’s son, Donald, laid down the flawless base/clear Liberty Red paint finish.
Progressive Automotive in Ohio supplied a new frame for the car. Purpose built for the tri-five Chevrolet models, it allows for the use of 1984-1996 C4 Corvette suspension. A 1985 Corvette that was purchased at a salvage auction donated the suspension; power-assisted rack and pinion steering; four-wheel power disc brakes; and independent rear suspension. Bill Dickson had the chassis powder-coated and he rebuilt and installed all the chassis components on the new frame.
GM Performance Parts supplied a new ZZ 502-cubic-inch big-block Chevrolet crate engine for the build. Developing 508 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 580 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm, it fills the engine bay. For fuel delivery, an Edelbrock Endura-Shine aluminum intake manifold mounts a Pro-Products Powerjection III fuel-injection system, which was chosen over the usual four-barrel carburetor. Billet Specialties supplied a Tru Trac Serpentine belt-drive system to run the alternator, water, steering and air conditioning pumps.
For cooling the engine, Sweet Components in Arizona supplied a full radiator cradle kit. State of the art and engineered for all cooling needs, the core support is a direct bolt-in for the ’57 Chevy and features a 33-inch wide aluminum radiator, dual electric fans with shroud and overflow tank. Exhaust duties are taken care of by Sanderson Block Hugger headers leading to a custom dual exhaust system.
Backing the potent powerplant is a heavy-duty 4L60E overdrive transmission, leading to the 3.55:1 ratio posi-traction Corvette differential. Both driveline components were completely rebuilt by Trans-Tech Industries. American Autowire Inc., supplied a full wiring kit and multi-circuit panel, specially made to handle all the modern electrical upgrades for the ’50s Chevrolet. Wheels are 17-inch Billet Specialties five-spoke Legend Series and are shod with 225 x 50 and 275 x 50 series Nitto Touring radial tires.
Reassembling the car, St. Germain relied on the help and years of expertise of both Dickson and Salisbury.
“Tim’s attention to detail with fit and finish and Bill’s knowledge about building these cars was much appreciated,” St. Germain says.
A new fuel tank was installed before the body and frame came together. New glass and weather-stripping came next, along with the doors and trunk lid. New custom billet hood hinges from Eddie Motorsports in California now securely hold the hood.
Chrome trim for the car is all new and supplied by Eckler’s Classic Chevy along with the Bel Air side trim from Danchuk Manufacturing. Bumpers are original to the car, but have been modified by shaving off the bumper bolts before rechroming, for a cleaner finish.
Interior upholstery is a custom Beige Ultraleather kit from Ciadella Interiors in Arizona and installed by Mark Ross. Garnish mouldings have been chrome plated and the billet aluminum door handles, window cranks and dash trim are from Pete’s Fabrications. A Dakota Digital dash cluster, Lokar billet aluminum floor pedals, RainGear electric windshield wipers and Flaming River tilt steering column replace the original units.
The entire project took four and a half years to complete and the reaction from enthusiasts and admirers has been positive. A member of the Manitoba Street Rod Association, St. Germain invites everyone to have a look at his award winning ’57 Chevy — on display this weekend at the club’s 18th Annual Rodarama Car Show.