Next the brace that fits below...
Next the brace that fits below the package shelf and between the quarter-panels is installed. This panel also holds the trunk hinges, and of course since this is a convertible the package shelf is replaced with a top well.
While Tri-Five Chevrolets are not considered rare by most standards, they are very popular and that popularity drives demand, which keeps prices high, even for marginal cars. One interesting thing we have seen over the years is this: It is the customs, hot rods, and resto-mod cars that bring in the most money when sold. It is not uncommon for convertibles to be customized and modernized for maximum enjoyment and driveability. Tri-Five Chevrolets were hot-rodded long before anyone thought of restoring one and the advent of new steel bodies will provide hot rodders with a perfect body for everything from a straight-axle gasser to a low-slung custom. Of course the use of a new body for a resto-mod Chevrolet is a natural and dare we say these cars will find their way into the ranks of those people who had always dreamed of a stone-stock ’57 Chevrolet convertible. Of course you can also purchase any single part required to repair your original ’55-57 Chevrolet too. Suddenly that ’57 Chevy that was wrecked in the ’70s is now a repairable car with new inner structures and sheetmetal.
The entire inner skeleton...
The entire inner skeleton is nearly complete. Real Deal Steel bodies through Woody’s are available as just a skeleton if you prefer to mount all of the external sheetmetal.
And all this serves to illustrate that the ’57 Chevrolet is a great-looking car that can be built in endless styles. Much like the venerable ’32 Ford, the Tri-Five Chevrolets are good looking in every body style and lend themselves to all styles of hot rodding. For those who think “everything has been done” on these cars, remember, they’ve been saying that about the Deuce for over 60 years.
The advent of a brand-new body will now make building a ’57 Chevrolet much like building a Deuce. With reproduction frames available most hot rodders can assemble a high-caliber car in their home shop without the hassle of trying to rescue a 54-year-old rusted-and-tweaked body. And where you once felt compelled not to cut up that precious sheetmetal, you are now free to modify at will. Feel like doing the radiused wheelwell trick? Go ahead, there are plenty of quarter-panels to go around.
With the body rotated we can...
With the body rotated we can see the fixture system inside the structural panels. All of the red handles are cam-lock pins that push into designated holes to perfectly align everything.
Bench racing sessions, emails, and online talk lead us to believe that the reproduction steel ’55-57 Chevrolet bodies may be the biggest thing to hit hot rodding since the steel Deuce roadster. As a matter of fact, most of us think these bodies will have an even bigger impact on our hobby as younger rodders relate to the mid-’50s cars. One thing is certain, this is a welcome addition to the multiple choices afforded hot rodders today. One need only remember the cars in the movie American Graffiti to understand the impact and the synergy.
The rear seat brace is installed...
The rear seat brace is installed between the wheelhouses. The panel is plug welded in place with a MIG welder. The box panel on the wheelhouse holds the convertible top mechanism.
It was bound to happen, gassers that is. After all, traditional hot rods have been the hot ticket for the past 10 years and nothing goes better with a traditional hot rod than an early gasser. Straight-axle cars, nose high stances, piecrust slicks, velocity stacks, and colored Plexiglas windows are all making a huge comeback. For many people, the term gasser and Tri-Five Chevrolets are synonymous, and we must admit few things quicken the pulse more than a straight-axle ’57 with no front bumper.
In the early ’60s, street-going gassers were every bit as common as traditional hot rods and just plain ol’ badass Tri-Five Chevrolets roamed the continent devouring the competition at the track and the “stop light grand prix.” Being of a certain age, this writer can remember watching gassers on the strip and roaming the streets. Nothing was more outrageous in the early ’60s than a straight-axle, nose-high fenderwells filled with headers, and radiused rear wheelwells gasser. Well, guess what? The same holds true today. Roll into your local cruise night or major national event with a rumbling gasser, rattling blue Plexiglas windows filled with kill stickers, and you are guaranteed to garner a lot of smiles and draw a crowd when you park.