Just the Facts
Year: 1957
Make: Chevy
Model: 150 Utility Sedan
Owners: Jerry & Carole Guernsey
State: California

Jerry and Carole Guernsey will never forget the day a gas line explosion wiped out their neighborhood, including their house and the show-winning '57 Chevy 150 Jerry had owned for 36 years.

Jerry was 13 in 1956, when he attended his first race, got hooked on cars, and decided that someday he wanted to race. He owned his first car at 16, and since he couldn't afford to pay for repairs, he learned to do the work himself.

When he first saw the 1957 in 1974, it was parked on the street, buried under a pile of tickets. He eventually located the owner and paid him $75. The day Jerry bought the car, he decided he would never sell it.

He replaced the six-cylinder with a stroked 283 with a 327 crank and, as he puts it, "beat the hell out of it". In 2005, his wife, Carole, asked him to either fix it or sell it. After a five-year buildup, Jerry drove the car 3,200 miles in 14 months, and won a couple First in Class show trophies. In September 2010, he drag raced it at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California. The next day, a 30-inch gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, destroying 38 homes. The Guernseys' house burned to the ground, but Jerry and Carole were uninjured and immediately began putting their life back together.

The search began for another 1957 150. In early 2011, Jerry bought this utility sedan from its owner of 41 years. The car wouldn't be a replica of the lost 1957, but its own blend of traditional and modern styles. And this time Jerry would rely on outside shops, primarily Jim Matus at Jim's Chevrolet Parts in Rancho Cordova, to build "a car I could cruise and get 20 mpg, drag race in the 12s, autocross, and take to car shows".

That's a tall order and we can't think of a better foundation for it than an Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) chassis for Tri-Fives. The AME GT Sport system starts with a 2x4 rectangular tube frame. A Strange 9-inch rear features a nodular-iron centersection, Detroit Locker, and 3.50:1 gears turning Strange axles, located by triangulated four-bars. Adjustable antiroll bars and Strange adjustable shocks are employed front and rear. Steering is handled via a Detroit Speed Inc. power rack.

Getting the most out of the stout chassis requires some bounteous tires and wheels, like the 275/40ZR17 and 235/45ZR17 Nitto Motivo meats mounted on 17x9.5 and 17x8 Budnik Muroc III wheels. Wilwood 11-inch disc brakes were added all around, with a Performance Online HydroBoost power brake system to ensure there's never a problem stopping.

Power is provided by an LS376/480 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance. It's a 6.2L LS3 beefed up at the factory with a high-performance LS Hot Cam and aluminum L92 cylinder heads. The combo kicks horsepower up to 480. John Schimmelman formerly of Schimm's Rod Shoppe in Gold River, California, did all the sheetmetal fabrication on the '57, including the cold air box, wire covers, remote coil brackets, and other underhood details. AME headers run to a custom exhaust built by Marco Muffler in Orangevale, California. Gases flow through Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers or uncorked through electric cutouts from Quick Time Performance. The 1957 shares its 6L90E six-speed automatic with 2013 ZL1 Camaros.

The body that looked solid turned out to be loaded with lead. "They had to replace half the car," Jerry reported. Sheetmetal work was extensive, but limited to repairs and mild custom mods—no radical reshaping. Tri-Five aficionados already noticed the reversed diagonal trim piece on the rear quarter. At the nose, the hood rockets were eliminated, a billet grille was added, and the stock bumper and bullets were modified. In the rear, the decklid was smoothed and taillights were upgraded with LED lights from Technostalgia. John Schimmelman's bodywork was painted by Don Honstein from Sacramento, spraying PPG Speedway Metallic Blue and White Diamond Pearl.

On the inside is an interior ready for anything—from the drags to the autocross, from the street to the car show...but mostly the street. Jim's Chevrolet Parts reworked the Lexus seats to suit the 1957 and installed the one-off center console. At Award Interiors in Sacramento, Dan Ballas upholstered the interior in Endurasoft marine vinyl.

"A day or so after the explosion," Jerry recalls, "a reporter asked me ‘What are you going to do now?' I replied ‘I don't know. Life goes on.'" The 1957, finished in May 2013, has been named "Life Goes On", and between May and December (when we talked to him), Jerry had driven it 2,400 miles. He drove the car to the Goodguys West Coast Nationals and won an award, and he drove it to Sonoma and drag raced it (it ran 13.83 at 111.56 on street tires; Jerry says he'll have a pair of cheater slicks when he goes back). And when they set up the autocross cones at the Del Mar Nats in April, Jerry and the 1957 will be there to compete. Nothing's going to stop him from pursuing the goal he set when he was 13 and reconfirmed when he started over with "Life Goes On".