567 Club of Manitoba


Fabulous fifties

'57 Chevy an icon



The best thing about vehicles from the 1950s is their versatility. Stock, Custom, Hot Rodded, Pro Street or Pro Touring restorations and rebuilds can all be accomplished.

tim1The 1950s was a time when high style was the key to selling cars each year and even though many manufacturers held to a three-year styling cycle, even those cars in that cycle were often very unique, encouraging buyers to trade up to the latest model.

Today it's not about sales, but finding the right passion for one's personality and pocketbook that drives their quest to own a fifties cruiser.

One of the largest icons from the 1950s is the tri-five Chevrolet. Introduced in 1955, the boxy little sedan with a Ferrari-inspired egg-crate grill stole the show. Couple that with Chevrolet offering V8 power at a reasonable cost and buyers flocked to showrooms in search of their next dream car. With a facelift and trim revamping it was back for 1956, but the hit of the decade was the 1957 model. What we know today to be the 1958 Chevy, was supposed to be introduced in late 1956 as the new 1957 Chevrolet. Tooling challenges, cost restraints and logistics said they wouldn't make that launch date, so the stylists turned to supplying a make-over based on the previous 1956 model. By adding tail-fins, a new recessed grille and floating grille bar insert along with dual Windsplit bulges on the hood and chrome ornaments, the 1957 took on a look of its own. Coupled with a newly designed dashboard with dual level controls and stylish new interior upholstery it appeared all-new.

tim2The 1957 Chevrolet has become an icon of the decade and stock restorations are always appreciated by collectors and enthusiasts alike, yet many want to take their restorations to the next level incorporating increased driveability, reliability and a pinch of "wow" factor.

Tim Salisbury of Winnipeg owned a great 1957 Chevy until 1979 BC. "BC was before children and I had to sell the car to concentrate on the things a family needs," says Salisbury.

We all know life can place many demands on us from time to time, yet in Salisbury's case it didn't kill the passion and by 2000 he was hard at work on a full-custom 1956 wagon. In 2009 he found his buddy in North Dakota had a virgin 1957 Chevrolet 210 field car for sale. Needing everything, it was a blank canvas for Salisbury to shape and modify into a reliable cruiser, so he dragged it home and with the help and support of his wife Gwyn and sons Derek and Donny they started on a full body-off frame rotisserie build.

With the body separated from the frame, Salisbury had Joel Liss from Mindless Metalfab modify the frame for Air Ride suspension on all four corners, including a two-inch notch in the rear to allow for suspension travel. A four-link rear suspension carries a rebuilt 1957 Chev 3.55:1 ratio positraction rear axle. Four-wheel disc brakes were added along with Bilstein shock absorbers and upfront two-inch dropped spindles give it that low-lying street stance. The entire frame was powder-coated black and rides on Crager SS five-spoke custom wheels with radial tires.

tim3For power there's a 1986 vintage 350-cubic-inch Chevy V8. The four-bolt main small-block V8 features a 1994 serpentine belt drive system and Quadra-Jet four-barrel carburetor, topped off with a retro dual inlet Oldsmobile/Cadillac air cleaner and H.E.I. ignition system. Cooling is handled by a Desert Cooler four-core radiator which allows the engine to maintain 180 Farenheit degrees even on the hottest of days. For the exhaust, 1957-style ram's horn exhaust manifolds were aluminized and flow to a two-inch diameter custom dual-exhaust system. The engine is backed by a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with shift kit and B&M floor-mounted Star Shifter.

For the body, there was little in the way of corrosion, so Salisbury spent his time on a few body modifications and prepping it for paint. The front vent windows were eliminated and full-door glass was installed. For the hood the centre section was cut out and replaced with the centre of a 1955 Chevy hood. The swap entailed over 200 hours of fabricating and finish work. This eliminated the twin windsplit bulges and chrome ornaments from the hood, cleaning it up and leaving it with a centre rib to match the ribs on top of the front fenders. While it definitely changes the look of the car Salisbury says, "Many people don't even notice it." With the bodywork complete Salisbury applied the two tone Surf Green and Colonial White paint finish, highlighted by Lime Green with coarse pearl flames, laid out by Kyle Koss. All of the chrome on the car and side trim is new from Eckler's Classic Chevy, with the exception of the original beltline mouldings that were polished and reinstalled by Salisbury.

Inside the passenger compartment, Salisbury changed things up a little with 1955 Chevy biscuit-style Green and Ivory vinyl upholstery from Pete Ciadella. For a clear view on the world, new tinted glass can be found throughout. On the dashboard things were smoothed out a bit by removing the radio speaker grille and clock as well as locating the ignition switch in the glove box. There's also a new RainGear two-speed electric windshield wiper system installed in place of the lethargic vacuum driven originals. Engine functions are monitored by a full instrument panel from Classic Instruments and there's a tilt steering column from a 1966 El Camino, topped with a 13-inch reproduction 1955 Chevy steering wheel.

"We completed the car in April of 2011 and it was a pleasure to work on it with our two boys and Gwyn and I couldn't be happier," says Salisbury

Members of the Manitoba Street Rod Association and 567 Club of Manitoba, the Salisbury's enjoy taking in as many cruise nights and shows as they can throughout the summer and in case you missed it, their 1957 Chevy, "Turdle" as it's lovingly named, was chosen as the M.S.R.A's Custom Cruiser of the year for 2011 and appeared on the poster for the 2012 M.S.R.A. Rondex Rodarama show held last April.

A solid driver that can handle anything from a leisurely Sunday cruise, to a full-out trip drown the expressway, Salisbury accomplished his goal with the 1957. Wisely chosen components, blended with that killer 1950s styling and just a hint of a custom twist, make this easy-being-green Chevy a standout cruiser