1957 Chevy Truck project, part 1

One lousy garage sale!

I like “garage sailing” but my life is so busy that I really don’t have time for it. Also, most garage sales offer things that I don’t need, like telefones (remember those?), worn out toys and casette players.

On my way home on a Saturday morning I saw this “Moving Sale” sign and it was close to my house so…what the hay…I swung in.

It took me all of thirty seconds to confirm that I did not need anything layed out on those rickety camping tables. I turned around to leave when I spotted a dirty 1957 Chevrolet truck sitting under a car port with the bed full of junk.


Of course I had to open my mouth and ask: Is this thing for sale??


After a good scrubadub it look pretty decent.

1957 Chevrolet truck, 383 stroker and automatic transmission. A Lincoln Versailles nine inch rear axle put the power to the ground and offers disc brakes in all corners.

Front end is the tried and true Mustang II setup with rack & pinion power steering. The rear axle is held in place by four link rear suspension with coil-over shocks. Fuel is stored in a 17 gallon aluminum tank under the bed.

Rolling stock are polished American Racing 17 inch rear wheels and 16 inch in the front with silly looking rubber band tyres.


The Polish-Americans…ahem, polished Americans need to be…well… polished and the paint is starting to haze a bit. It is obviously missing the grille.


Total street rod treatment. Filled bed rails and smooth tailgate. Not really my cup of tea but it’s OK. Amateur paint job makes it a driver.


The previous owner did not redo the stock bench seat and that’s OK with me, I got some ideas.

What I don’t care for are all those mandatory “street rod” components added for no functional reason. The ugliest thing is probably the “steering column cover” Why would you be embarrassed over a column anyway?? It has a FUNCTION!


Engine compartment looks like all the rest of them. Red engine with some chrome added. Booooring !!

The all new 383 stroker runs strong but needs some attention. It has a rough idle or some sort of low rpm balance issue. We all have some issues, right?


This “tach pod” is the tachiest thing I ever seen! Get it??!! Looks like a ball sack!…with one ball;-) BTW, this tachometer is completely made of plastic. It was almost a surreal feeling when I took it out, like earth lost half of its gravity!

So the initial though was just clean it up a bit for the summer and just drive it…but…. Maybe I should just remove some of the obvious street rod stuff and then drive it…right?

Yeah, right…here goes nothing:


Looking at it, I need to do more…That horrible steering wheel, billets shifter, billet knobs and the under dash thingie has to go. The “everything beige” theme looks so 2004! Actually, it reminds me of a 1978 Cutlass I owned in 1985!

I ordered a new black carpet that is designed for the 1957 truck without the tank behind the seat so the carpet will go all the way back for a nice finished look.


I also need more leg room and as much as I like a good stereo system these woofers has to go. I need to move the seat further back for comfort. I will install 6X9 speakers on each side. More on this later.

The 383 engine had a strange shaking going on around 1500 rpm. It ran strong but I don’t really have time to investigate. It is an internally balance stroker kit and it has the correct ring gear and harmonic dampener. Go figure…


Ah, screw it! I took the easy way out for now: THE VISA card!!! For 1200 clams ! I got this new, not rebuilt, Chevrolet 350 crate engine. 1200 clams delivered…in a crate.



The truck was equipped with a 700R4. I thought I was burning rubber at WOT but it was actually the transmission slipping! I replaced it with a pro-rebuilt 30 spline 700R4 with a 2000 rpm stall converter. I also got a lesson in how to set up the cable that communicates with the transmission.












Instead of installing tons of chrome (or any at all) I decided to go all black instead. Even the aluminum Air Gap intake got covered in the dark stuff. I am tired of chromed-out small blocks so the least I can do is to avoid that cliché. For contrast all bolts will be polished stainless. The funky bracket on the left side is for the A/C compressor. It is using one of the water pump bolts so I mocked up the compressor when installed the water pump and then I installed the bracket. I don’t like to loosen up the water pump bolts after the fact.


The Mustang rack on the truck showed signs of leaking and it had some slack. Rack & Pinions should NOT have any slack so out with the old and in with a new…rack that is!


The steering olumn in the truck was sloppy so this new unit will take its place. As much as I don’t care for the look of a tilt column I find them adding to comfort in a small cab as this truck. This is going to be a driver so comfort is the key! It will have a leather steering wheel.


The truck had no heater at all and since this is going to be a driver I want A/C as well. Vintage Air supplied a complete behind dash unit and I opted for the Deluxe controls. They have the OE look and are now fly-by-wire, no more cables. Me dig!

So much for a quicky, eh?


The engine compartment was cleaned up and the frame paint was freshened up.


While the engine was out I drilled all the holes needed for the Vintage Air hoses.


Open wide!


…and there she is. I should not be too far away from making some noise!


I am not totally impressed with this TCI front end.  Even if you tighten the bejesus out of the A arms bolts there is a risk they can slip under load. I welded on these sturdy half inch plates with “set bolts”. Once the alignment is done I will run those bolts out firmly against the A-arm rod making sure everything stays where it should.



Plumbing and wiring is pretty much done. Now it’s time for the A/C / Heat combo under the dash.


With all the tubes attached the evaporator is ready to go in. The round thingies on top are servos for the doors that directs the air flow. No cables are need with this fly by wire set up.



I replaced the tilt column but I can’t live with these faux “billet” knobs. They are not even billet, they are just cast cheap looking things. I will replace them with black OE looking knobs or something like that.


The front shocks were very soft so I opted for the best in the business. Bilsteins.


One benefit with buying an old street rod is that everything is all cleaned up and painted with fresh components. Another…ahem benefit is that you will enjoy the previous owner’s fine work…or not. This “worm nest” worth of wires is a not anything I can live with.

He bought a new wiring kit but it seems like he was not big on cutting the wires when they were too long. Gotta fix that!


After cleaning up the wiring I can put a bed back in this thing.


The new rear bumper looks nice but I am not liking the tail lights flopping in the wind. I want something more integrated.


These are trailer lights designed for enclosed car trailers. They are usually mounted vertically. It turns out that they fit perfectly on the panel below the tailgate.


They are very bright, both in running light mode…


…and brake mode. I am straying fom my traditional rules here but since this is going to be a driver in soggy ass Seattle winter weather I want to be seen when I step on the binders.