Wayne’s Engine Rebuilders in Riverside, CA, machined and assembled the 400 SBC in Mark’s r
When he was in high school, Mark Williams, of Riverside, California, drove a ’56 Chevy. Now a bit older, he has a grade-school-age daughter, and he thought it would be great if she had a similar experience when she reached high school, so he started looking for a car for her. With Mark having always liked ’57 Chevys, soon a two-birds-with-one-stone concept was born.
Jimmy Ruiz and Dominic Salmon of Sledsville, also based in Riverside, had already built a couple of vehicles for Mark and some of his family members, so he didn’t have to look too far when choosing a builder for this project. Through word of mouth a likely candidate was located at a local car collector’s barn. In decent, but not great, shape, the car had at one time a Chrysler drivetrain installed and would need some major reconstructive surgery to be presentable.
The ’57 steering wheel is a repop unit (with green metalflake) and the rest of the dash ar
Sledsville has become known recently for some of the high-profile customs they’ve built, but this car wasn’t supposed to be wild, just nice. But since it’s hard to limit creativity, Mark’s ’57 eventually turned out to be a perfect blend of nice touches without the in-your-face attitude some customs have.
Sledsville worked on the chassis to get the stance right, and it features a Camaro subframe with custom-fit rack-and-pinion steering, shortened A-arms, and a Sledsville-fabbed four-link and a Panhard bar for the 10-bolt rear (3.07:1). Wilwood disc brakes are found on each corner as are a set of Firestone airbags and large 17- and 18-inch Billet Specialties wheels.
The buckets don’t look like they came out of a Lexus (though they did) because Craig Hopki
Unlike most of the custom work Sledsville is accustomed to, they didn’t lower the roof on the ’57 or french or tunnel the headlights, but they did have to replace the driver side quarter-panel as it needed some attention. Other custom tricks included the use of mid-’50s Chrysler turn lights to replace the factory’s round turn indictors in the grille area, removing the sail panel portion of the rear fender side trim, and adding Nomad guards to the shaved rear bumper.
Sledsville’s Eddie Macias used custom-mix House of Kolor paints to cover the car in green tones—with a darker green scallop running around the car’s edges, down the center of the hood, and on both sides of the reworked side trim. The darker hue was also used to cover the roof. Ruiz followed with a pinstripe (a third green) to separate the two greens used on the car.
Mark wanted something “age appropriate” when it came to the powerplant, and a 400-inch small-block was machined and assembled at Wayne’s Engine Rebuilders, also located in Riverside. A Billet Specialties Tru Trac belt system was used up front, but vintage finned aluminum valve covers were added to match the twin aluminum air cleaners attached to the dual Edelbrock carbs mounted to a cross ram manifold. The engine bay is as finely detailed as the rest of the car, with a smoothed firewall and color-coded parts and pieces.
Eddie Macias at Sledsville painted the Bel Air with a custom House of Kolor mix before Jim
Inside the car the dash was left alone, but a metalflake green repop steering wheel was added, as was a high-power stereo system with multiple amps and speakers. Power windows went in, and Lexus bucket seats were recovered in black leather by Craig Hopkins of Kiwi Kustom Upholstery in Mead Valley, California, who also finished out the rest of the interior with the same material.
As building hot rods sometimes goes, this car turned out a lot nicer than Mark Williams had originally envisioned and, thusly, it probably won’t be his daughter’s first driver. But the family is looking for something appropriate, and vintage, for her and, in the mean time, the Williams family will have another stunning car in their garage to take out and cruise whenever the mood strikes ’em!