Club Events



 



Wayne & Jane
Hart

Madison, MS 39110



1957 Belair 2-Door Sedan

1957 3100 Truck
(RESTORATION IN PROGRESS)

 


 

I came across my 1957 Belair sedan May of 2001 in the newspaper classifieds and drove about 90 miles out of town to go see it. It had been restored at least once from what I could tell and had been kept mostly original.  It had no radio, two windows were cracked, one window was plexiglass, and the tires and brakes were in poor condition but it was drivable.  The interior looked good except the front seat had been replaced with one from a 60’s Impala.  The body was in fair shape except for some minor wreck damage to the driver side front fender and bumper, and the old body filler repairs were beginning to crack and chip out.  The paint was sierra gold but tropical turquoise was showing through in spots.  It had a six cylinder under the hood with a power glide transmission.  After driving it down the street and back I decided that it was too good of a deal to pass up.  When my mother Esther Mae, died in October 2000 she left behind a little bit of money that was divided up between her children.  I had been saving my part for “something special.”  What could be more special than a 57 Chevy!  I bought it and drove it 90 miles back home.

 

I started working on it the next day.  First I had to fix and rebuild the brake system, keeping the original non power, drum style for now.  Next project, that six cylinder just had to go, so I replaced it with a 1990 Iroc Camaro 350 along with a TH 350 transmission and had dual exhaust put on with Flomasters.  Engine goodies consist of a 270 Comp cam/lifter kit, an Edelbrock 600 carburetor, a CrossWind Air Gap aluminum intake, and an Accel 71100E electronic ignition.  I replaced the small six cylinder radiator with a larger V8 radiator, but kept it mounted in the six cylinder position.  I restored the front and rear suspension system and converted the front wheel hubs from ball bearing to roller bearing hubs when I put on the 15” Cragar SS rims.  I have replaced all electrical with new wiring harnesses.  I replaced the bench seat with some comfortable 1996 Chevy Silverado bucket seats.  Then in October of 2004 I sent it to the body shop and had the body repaired and painted Competition Yellow.  I restored and polished all of the stainless steel trim while the car was at the body shop.  I got it back February 2005 and started putting it back together.  I replaced all the weather stripping, trunk and window gaskets, and fur channels.  I did not have the equipment or desire to do a frame-off restoration, but every rubber bushing, grommet, and plug on the car has been replaced, except for the body mounts.  All the side glass is new and tinted and so is the windshield.  I had the seats reupholstered in gray vinyl and tweed.  My wife and I did the door panels ourselves in the same materials.  I painted the dash and window moldings in a metallic charcoal color.  I lined the floor with “reflectix” foil insulation before I put in a pre-molded one piece gray carpet.  New exterior parts include the grill bar, mirrors, tail light housings, hood rockets, door handles, door handle guards, vent window frames, door and trunk locks, wipers and escutcheons, gold grill, gold hood and trunk vees, and gold fender louvers.  Many parts for this car were gifts from my wife, such as the tinted window glass set and gift certificates that paid for the stereo and carpet to name a few.  She even had my bumpers re-chromed as a Christmas gift!  I built this car to be a driver and that’s what we’ve been doing.... to Cruizin’ The Coast on the Mississippi gulf coast, to shows in Gonzales and Monroe Louisiana, Mobile Alabama and to several local car shows and cruise-ins.  This car is very sentimental to me, on the most part because it will always make me think of my mother, since I bought it with her money.  I will also think of my dad.  He made his living as an auto mechanic and I really learned the basics from watching him.  One of the basics he taught me was…. (How to throw stuff and shout a curse word or two).  Hey….sometimes it just helps!

 

To come to a close…. I want to go back to the morning of June 29, 2002 when we cranked the new engine for the first time.  We got the sad news that mama’s only sister had died during the night after a long illness.  My Aunt Lucille had been very supportive and interested in me getting the 57 running again and painted.  She would always tell me. … “A good paint job is going to be the most important part in restoring that old car”.  I had so hoped to take her riding when I got it rolling again.  I know Esther Mae and Lucille were both there that morning when that motor cranked up and I pictured them both standing there holding their ears!  I sometimes refer to my 57 as “EstherLu” in memory of two special ladies………