567 Club of Manitoba


1957 Chevy


Blue-chip inversment

Classic Chevy an RRSP you can take for Sunday drive

Published: November 13,2009 Email: larry.dargis@freepress.mb.

Pssst. Want a tip on great investment?  A sure thing, one that will continue to appreciate and you'll be proud to own.  No you haven't skipped over to the financial pages and that red car you're looking at is the topic of this week's Classic Cruising column.

billfrtToday, investments are as risky as ever and finding the right balance in your portfolio involves a careful mix of diversified resources.  In the collector car marketplace, one continual blue-chip acquisition is the 1955 to 1957 Chevy.  Over the years the tri-five Chevys have defied all logic, even in recessionary times, with their steadily increasing values.

Aside from the dollars and cents draw, the one to really watch is the '57 Chevy.  Last in the series, it's also got the styling that has kept it as one of the most identifiable cars of the 1950's.  Dripping with chrome and tail-fins, it makes a statement about the decade and the hope for for the future that it held.

billsdFor Bill Dickson of Winnipeg, he started out in the 1960 with a '40 Ford convertible.  "I bought it in 1960 for $45 and then moved on to a '48 Ford coupe," says Dickson.  Soon after he got a look at a 1955 Bel Air hardtop and from then on he was hooked on the tri-five Chevy and has owned several over the years.

In 2006 he was at "Back To The Fifties" in Minneapolis with his award-winning black '57 Chevy Nomad wagon, when a fellow asked how much it would take for him to part with the wagon.  Dickson said, "The car wasn't for sale, but I came up with a high price and I thought that would be the end of the conversation, then he said he'd be back the following day with a certified cheque, so I came home without a car.

billintBack in Winnipeg, he knew he needed to replace the Nomad, so he contacted a friend who had a '57 Bel Air two-door sedan that had been in storage for over 16-years.  "The car was in fair condition, but was in need of a complete restoration," says Dickson.

He started with replacing two weak floor pans, inner and outer rocker panels and added a set of new front fenders before turning the car over to Bryant Stevens at J Max Auto Body for final body prep and paint.  Bryant bathed the entire car in a coat of GM Super Red.

billintWhile the body was receiving a full makeover, Dickson cleaned the frame and had it powder coated in gloss black.  Up front, a new Jim Meyer Racing power rack and pinion steering with tubular A-arms were installed, along with coil-over shocks, a beefy sway bar and power front disc brakes.  In back is a Ford 0-inch rear axle with 3.70:1 gear ratio and disc brakes mounted to the inboard-located Chevy rear leaf springs.  It all rolls on a set of Weld aluminum wheels with B.F. Goodrich T/A radial up front and 12-inch wide Hoosier Pro Street radial in back.

With the body back on the frame, there was new tinted glass installed along with new chrome and stainless steel trim from Classic Chevy.  A modern 100 amp. alternator and 21-circuit American Autowire kit replaces the half-century old wiring in the car and Raingear tow-speed electric windshield wipers keep the windows clear of precipitation.

For power there's a four-bolt main, 350-cubic-inch small-block Chevy V8 bored .30" over and fitted with a GM forged crankshaft, Speed Pro forged pistons and Eagle connecting rods.  It's topped off with Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, Crane performance camshaft, roller rocker arms and H.E,I. ignition.  Fuel feed is accomplished with a Holley aluminum intake manifold carrying a 670 c.f.m. Holley Street Avenger four-barrel carburetor.  Spent exhaust gases exit via a set of Blockhugger headers leading to a custom-dual exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers.

Cooling is supplied with an aluminum radiator and water pump aided by an electric fan.  Backing the engine is a Great Rate prepared 700R4 automatic overdrive transmission with a Corvette 2,000 rpm stall torque converter.

Inside, Jack Krause upholstered the Bel Air in a combination of red vinyl with red tweed seat inserts, followed by a new carpet and headliner.  A non-tilt, column-shift steering column from Ididit was installed.  Engineered especially for the '57 Chevy, it's a direct fit and includes four-way warning flashers and th ability to mount any new-style steering wheel.

The factory dash has been retrofitted with a billet dash plate carrying all-new AutoMeter gauges including tachometer.  For entertainment, there's a 200-watt AM/FM stereo compact disc player hidden in the glovebox that powers four two-way speakers and Vintage Air air-conditioning ensures the summer heat doesn't make for an unpleasant ride.

Billet aluminum door and window cranks, sill plates and chrome window surrounds add even more brightwork to the interior.

Finished in 2008, the licence plate says it all as Dickson's newest Chevy is "1RED57" from end to end.  Classic lines coupled with modern mechanicals make this a very driveable collector car with performance to match.  As for being a viable investment, think of it as an RRSP you can take for a Sunday drive and really enjoy it!

Some 2011 updates to bills's 57