The original Black Widow featured the latest innovation from Chevrolet Performance in the Rochester mechanical FI. Today EFI is commonplace but back in the day when the carburetor was “King of the Performance Hill” FI was something special. On George’s ’57 a limited-edition (No. 137 of 427 built) all-aluminum 427-inch big-block (510 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque) was built at Bischoof Engine Service in Guilford, Indiana, sporting twin Holley carbs; the “thirsty” V-8 receives its fuel from a 25-gallon Danchuk gas tank. The big-block all-aluminum V-8 looks like an “as cast” but its focal point of color rests squarely on the bright orange painted valve covers coming from the CNC machinery at CCE. Another BES “eye-popping” feature built at Sondles’ request is the very cool staggered cross-ram intake that houses the twin Holly 450-cfm four-barrels.

The air cleaner package was built by Dane Heninger of Woody’s with the air coming via a pair of snorkels that gather in their O2 through intakes crafted into the radiator core support. (Heninger is Sondles brother-in-law, guess that’s what they mean by keeping it in the family! Speaking of family, it was Sondles’ dad, Fred, who was instrumental in handing down the lifelong passion for Tri-Fives, stemming from his own passion for these cars.) The ignition comes from PerTronix in its Flame-Thrower distributor and coil system with custom headers by Baldwin of Woody’s while the exhaust system that uses Flowmaster Hush Power mufflers was welded up by Heninger. More Heninger handiwork can be seen in the custom shifter for the Tremec TKO-600 (five-speed). It’s bolted to the potent big-block via a McLeod Racing dual-disc flywheel/clutch package that transfers the power to the Strange Engineering (Morton Grove, Illinois) 9-inch rearend via a Cincinnati Driveline aluminum driveshaft.

The Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) (Fife, Washington) Tri-Five chassis comes with a Strange Engineering (SE) 9-inch rearend fitted with 3.70 gears and a limited-slip differential, 31-spline axles, SE coilover shocks, Wilwood 12-1/2-inch rotors and calipers, and a sway bar. The front suspension is based on an AME IFS with SE coilover shocks, and matching Wilwood rotors and calipers. The Wilwood master cylinder (7/8-inch bore) features a custom top by CCE with a Jeg’s adjustable proportioning valve. The spindles and sway bar are AME while the rack-and-pinion is Ford.

Keeping the Black Widow theme moving, CCE machined a set of four billet aluminum wheels (painted to look steel) with six lugs, 5-1/4-inch backspace in front and 4-1/2-inch backspace in the rear. The wheels measured 18x8 and 18x10 all wrapped with BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW rubber, measuring 245/40ZR18 and 275/40ZR18.

In 1957 congressional hearings were conducted about stock car racing. They claimed the automakers’ racing advertisements were contributing to racing and reckless driving on the road. During February 1957 the Automobile Manufacturers Association prepared a resolution suggesting all manufacturers stop auto racing activities, and that type of advertising, including the support of private racers. This “killed” the Black Widow project and many that would have followed. It didn’t work then and it hasn’t worked today, with all of the government regulations performance is alive and well from the factories down to those of us who bear the title “hot rodder.” The Black Widow was only one car from one manufacturer but it represents the spirit that has made hot rodders and hot rodding so fantastic.