It’s always a bit of a surprise to run across a half-century-old car that still looks this good. Unlike a good portion of unrestored and patina-covered cars, this one is hiding a little extra under the hood.
The car was recently overhauled by the guys over at Big Oak Garage in Hokes Bluff, Alabama, and we talked to Will Posey, the voice you hear in the video, to get some more details. “The owner is William Vandiver, from Decatur, Alabama.” William has been a great customer to Big Oak Garage and they’ve had the pleasure of doing several cars for him.
One thing you may have picked up on is the addition of shoulder-harness seatbelts. Will explained that Mr. Vandiver drives his cars a lot, so for him it was important to have that extra level of safety. Mr. Vandiver also likes to drive with his three kids, so when traveling with precious cargo, safety comes first.
Safety additions aside, the drivetrain on this Chevy is a little more modern than the paint or interior. Powering this ’57 that looks like it’s been through a war, as Scottie D describes, is an LS engine with a 4L60 automatic transmission, and a 9-inch rearend. “Everything underneath is brand new,” explained Will. This old car also has Wilwood disc brakes and Ridetech suspension.
The car was already LS powered when it arrived at Big Oak, but it came with a six-speed. It came to the shop for a new automatic transmission, a rewire, and a suspension upgrade. They also recovered the front and rear seats and installed a new headliner.
While testing the new wiring harness and transmission on the dyno, the rearend locked up. The driveline was pushed into the transmission, which then exploded, cracking the block. “It wasn’t the fault of the dnyo shop, it wasn’t our fault, it wasn’t anyone’s fault,” Will explained. “It was an equipment failure.”
Getting back on track with the build, one thing they did for Mr. Vandiver was make the 4L60 transmission work with the original steering column that was designed for a two-speed Powerglide. “We bought a Lokar universal shift arm for a column, and it’s adjustable,” Will explained. “It was just a matter of hooking it to the transmission and getting it to work on the column. It took two days of adjusting to get it to work just right.”
The whees are brand new American Racing wheels, made to look old using Muriatic acid. The acid treatment really helped the wheels complement the look of the car, while still allowing Will and his team to add the style of wheel they wanted. It would look really out of place to have a nice car with this much patina and brand new aluminum wheels on it.
“The real car guys think this is awesome,” Will explained. “The guys that aren’t real car guys, they don’t get it. They don’t understand that we are really preserving this car because of the history of it.” We talked with Will a little about the reaction to the patina of this car when they are out and about. Some guys just tell them it needs a new paint job, while the real enthusiast recognize it for what it is and love it for that. “This car has never been wrecked, it’s never been cut up, and it’s never been a drag car. We are preserving its history. It’s really really cool the way it is.”