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1957 Chevy 60's Street Custom

Dennis Lacy

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Since returning to model car building in 2008 I have built nothing but late 20's and 30's Hot Rods with the exception of a "curbside" 1953 Ford Pickup Custom a couple of years back, I'm in the process of wrapping up a 1927 T Hot Rod currently  but I'm stuck on that project until I paint and clear it in the coming week. With that I decided to start a new project this weekend and I also decided I would take a break from the early Ford's and try something out of my comfort zone, a '57 Chevy! I built the classic AMT kit as a teen in the 90's and was given another a couple of years ago from a friend. That first one is long gone so I thought it would be fun to revisit and it's a pretty simple kit so I won't bog myself down on going crazy with the details. In fact, I'm not even going to bother detailing the chassis. Instead I'll focus on the body and interior but it won't be a true curbside as it will have an engine as well. After brainstorming for several days I settled on a plan and with the weekend finally here it was time to get started...

The first step was to smooth out the body shell. This meant removing all of the side trim, hood and trunk emblems, the trim from the tops of the tail fins and the molded-in windshield wipers. I also scribed the door and trunk panel lines deeper as in some spots they were barely visible and overall probably would have ended up being very faint after body work, primer and paint. 




Up front I am using the kit supplied custom headlight housings and front rolled pan/grill surround. Time was spent making sure these pieces dry fit nicely before permanently attaching making the blending easier and minimizing the need for any filler afterwards. 





I also decided to fill the hood "gunsights" with pieces of the kits parts sprue and blend the filler pieces into the existing hood bumps. 




The kit also provides a custom rear rolled pan and custom taillight housings but they end up extending the already LONG quarters so I didn't care to use them, not as-is at least. Instead I decided to make use of the existing cavities in the rear of the fins and blend the rolled pan in so that it didn't stick out. To start I cut off the back edge of the fins vertical...


I then cut the "pods" off the ends of the rolled pan pieces, trimmed them down and then attached them flush...






I then added some material to the ends of the rolled pan and permanently installed it between the two "pods" so that it blends into them. I added some partitions separating the taillight lenses into 4 pieces. That crescent shaped lenses come in the kit and are meant to go in the rolled pan. The triangle shaped lenses are also found in the kit and are remnants from some other custom body options from the original issue that are no longer in the kit. I sanded those red triangles slightly and fit them into the cavities in the ends of the fins. (I still need to fill the little voids above them.)




I selected the rolling stock. The shallow & deep chrome wheels are from The Modelhaus while the tires and slicks are AMT Parts Pack items.


And finally some crude mock up pics. This is the stance I'm going for. The kit gives you the option of slamming the front like this so I'll just have to lower the rear which is easy. The idea here is a customized '57 with a really healthy 409 (more on that kit-bashed engine next time!) that not only looks good rolling down the road but can also throw down with some whoop-ass when needed. So a cross between a custom and a street machine all in early 60's flavor. 







That's all for now but plenty more to come. Let me know what you think. I know a lot of you '57 Chevy purists are gonna hate that I cut off the angled fins and that's fine! I like it so that's what matters, LOL!




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Not bad at all. Firstly, I admire you for tackling a difficult subject; the '57 Chevy is not an easy car to customize (successfully). You won't find much in the way of reference, well... none you'd want to use. The body is a stylish piece that is simply hard to improve upon. Not impossible, but not easy. I'm liking where the back end is heading, so to speak. I had considered customizing one, but haven't finalized a plan yet, I like to do sketches before cutting plastic. I saw in the rear similar shapes as you, and have intended to French in '59 Impala taillights teardrop fashion. IMHO, the (stock) frontal view is the weak link, and has the most room for improvement; sort of a chrome catfish lip going on there. Your front end is looking nice. Paint will be key in this build. Have you chosen a shade of red yet?😉

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Dennis, i am enjoying watching you customize the 57 Chevrolet. I know that it isn’t an easy task I have two of these going right now and like all of us, I’ve seen good and bad customs made from the 57. Your take on the side trim and the rear is looking good so far. Please keep it going. 

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Like most all of your builds...I love it!

Would look killer with a Winfield fade  - I'll be interested to see what color combo you come up with on this one!  I really like the reshaping of the headlamp openings too, that was really nicely done

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Looks good to me! Great to see you tackling something a little different.

I have the Spring 1965 issue of Popular Customs on top of one of the many piles of old magazines in my shed, I flick through it every so often and marvel about what they were doing back then. Although it's not such an obvious basis I vaguely recalled that there was a '57 in there......


Seems like this car also featured on the cover of Car Craft and somehow it survived, more about it here: https://kustomrama.com/wiki/Don_Pritchard's_1957_Chevrolet

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The cut-off fins are something I've been considering for a long time (along with doing the same to a '59 Cadillac). I've seen it done on a 1:1 car that gave a less than desirable look but this looks like a more well thought out approach than that car was. I'm enjoying this. 

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Thanks to everyone who has commented. These 50's cars are really not in my wheelhouse so I'm hoping I make it by faking it here. I'm really surprised how overwhelmingly positive the opinions have been on how I started modifying the rear end. I figured the kits front treatment would go over good but out back I was expecting quite the opposite. 


I don't have a lot of resources when it comes to customizing fodder for a 50's car and after completing the initial work last weekend I have been stumped all week on what to do for some kind of grill treatment. For the rolled pan the kit provides a very basic tooth grill and a couple of chrome bullets but the grill isn't very exciting IMO. Today I had an "Ah Ha!" moment. I ended up removing the bulky crest area from the original grill bar turning it into a smooth/peaked floating bar and then thinned down the bullets from behind which both decreased their diameter and made them shorter. I then made it so the bar and bullets pin to the roll pan which will make final assembly a breeze. I also knocked down the peaks on the headlight surrounds so they're a little more curved.




Moving out back I made some refinements. I added some material to the tips of the fins to create an eyebrow that ties in with the eyebrows on the headlights. I then filled the little voids above the light lenses and then wrapped the light surrounds in .040" half round to give the blunt edges and finished look and also make the lenses recessed rather than flush. I also did some more work to further blend everything together with some green filler here and there.



I did the basic set up to the Chevy 409 using the kit provided block/trans and then adding to it the heads, Offenhauser valve covers, dual 4bbl hi-rise intake, carbs, timing cover and belt drive from AMT's '62 Impala kit. The nice generator with tensioning arm is from a Revell small block Chevy and the little chrome air filers are from Revell's '70 Nova. I'll also be using the '62 Impala exhaust manifolds (forgot to tack them on for a pic!)


And here's the latest mock up...








So the extent of the customized front and rear ends are basically done and I'm very happy with the look. The only major body mod left is to recess a license plate frame into the trunk lid and add some exhaust tips with little scallops in the rolled pan for them.

Edited by Dennis Lacy
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