Chevrolet’s ’57 purpose-built race car, known as the “Black Widow,” is as iconic as it is rare. As for production numbers, there aren’t any as the car never came off the production line and no known credible numbers exist. The first competitive appearance of the black and white fuel-injected 150 two-door sedan was at NASCAR’s National Speedweeks in Daytona in February 1957.
Dennis Crooks Quality Restorations...
Dennis Crooks Quality Restorations handled the steering wheel effort, while Flaming River modified a stock ’57 column.
George Poteet’s Black Widow isn’t an original, nor is it intended to be a faithful recreation but rather a tribute to the car and the idea of Chevrolet Performance. The modern attributes make this Black Widow the one with the most venomous bite! The ’57 Chevy 150 “post car” that was turned into the vaunted Black Widow is truly a special car. On behalf of George, Chris Sondles, of Woody’s Hot Rodz in Bright, Indiana, ram-rodded the two-year project, gaining inspiration from the artwork of Eric Brockmeyer. Before we get into this four-wheel arachnid a brief history lesson is in order.
In 1956, Vince Piggins, with the blessings of Ed Cole, then GM vice president and general manager, moved to Atlanta and established Southern Engineering and Development Company (SEDCO), which gave birth to the Black Widow and its distinctive black and white paint scheme. While these cars ran the innovative mechanical fuel injection (FI) on top of the 283ci/283hp V-8 the reality was the FI cars suffered from an underhood malady where the FI experienced false pressure readings and subsequent power loss above 80 mph. A partial solution was achieved once the inner fenders were cut out. It’s been reported the FI-equipped cars ran only one top division NASCAR race and from then on were converted to a single 380-cfm four-barrel, although the cars continued to race with the “Fuel Injection” badges. (It was on April 23, 1957, that NASCAR rewrote the rules, making the single four-barrel mandatory, thereby rendering FI illegal.)
The bench seat came from a...
The bench seat came from a four-door sedan and was re-covered in black and silver cobblestone while the carpeting comes from ACC in Daytona weave. It was all stitched into place by Matt Baldwin of Woody’s Custom Upholstery. The door panels are custom while the seatbelts are Vintage Aircraft.
Another distinctive Black Widow attribute was the use of six-lug hubs and wheels. The cars themselves came from Detroit and not the Atlanta plant as the one-piece frame was thought to be stronger and only available from the Detroit facility. It’s been reported that the six-lug feature was added to the cars once at SEDCO. The six-slug axle had larger, commercial-equipped brakes (’57 Chevy 1/2-ton pickup), making this an ideal, for the time, race accessory.
The trunk area of the factory Black Widows had the license plate on the decklid along with the key lock and the “V” logo, while the crossed flags and FI nameplates resided on the rear quarter-panels. On George’s Black Widow the license plate is moved to the bumper (i.e. station wagon) and the “V” logo on the decklid and crossed flags on the rear quarter-panels were removed. On the front of the factory Black Widow there was the “V” logo on the hood along with the twin hood “rockets.” On George’s version, the OEM “V” logo was removed, as were the twin hood rockets.
The builders at Woody’s performed these and the numerous other body modifications. The top was “pancaked” 1-7/8 inches by Woody’s Adam Beck while the front fenders were extended 1-1/2 inches and the rear fins pulled back 2 inches at the peak. Because of the mods to the front and rear fenders both the headlights and taillights required modified bezels and custom fitting. The front and rear bumper/pan areas were extensively modified by Woody’s Matt Baldwin.
The iconic twin rockets that reside on a ’57 hood were removed and replaced with new ones crafted by Clay Cook of C. Cook Enterprises (CCE) in Erlanger, Kentucky. Woody’s staff lowered these new rockets 3/4 inch from stock. These openings are decorative; functioning air intakes are built into the radiator core support.