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1957 Chevy Bel Air sport sedan (Bertha)


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So, to make a long story short in the beginning, I’ve been working on a 57 sport sedan for the last 14 years that was literally saved from the crusher.  It took a long hibernation as I was still finishing grad school and getting started in my career but now I’m determined to have it drivable for this years TriFive Nationals in August. I’ve been all 5 previous years without my car and it’s getting depressing.  This car has been a headache and to just throw some info out there, here are some photos.  I will add more info to this later on, I’m just sprinting to the finish through the usual proverbial minefield. 
 

Body will be white roof with 1959 Volkswagen Strato blue body, modified 670 interior, chrome smoothies wheels and 215/65/15 up front, 235/60/15 in the rear. 

 

Dash is Inca Silver and will have a black padded dash. 444824DC-A93B-47F8-AC88-F1B7886950E0.jpeg.a9eceeb86f2bef20a7ccf2954dbe313f.jpeg

 

 

Typical frustrations, I ended up with the radiator for the 6cyl instead of the V8 so I need to make some adapter plates. 

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Radiator panels in satin black

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How she started out. 

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Her interior laid out.  Same as 670 trim but different cloth inserts. 

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A fender in color, just making sure I like it. 
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Here she is now.  New floors, trunk floor, trunk lid, fenders, hood, and soon will have the rear quarters replaced.  This is a Frankenstein of 5 different cars (2 bodies and all doors from different cars). 
 

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Thanks!  I need to have it drivable by August 8th with all the kinks and bugs worked out to make a 450 mile drive. I’m trying to decide if I want to run the fresh 265 that I’ve put in it (in the photos above) or spend the time assembling the 327 I’ve had machined for it.  I can get the 327 done in a day and it would make my life easier on the transmission setup (TH350). Chassis work and all of the drivetrain is done, it’s just getting the bodywork finished now.  I have to say I’ve dealt with enough rust to last me three lifetimes.  I grew up in Arizona where rust was just a vicious rumor spread by those from New England. I’ve learned otherwise. This 57 was pretty rotted.  Never again will I dive into another basket case like this one. 
 

I’ve done the chassis, drivetrain, etc. but a friend of mine did the floor / rocker replacement and divested the roof of its rust and dents. He does fantastic and charges a very reasonable rate. 

Edited by AURktman (see edit history)
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Thanks!  The floors and roof are the work of a buddy, he is really good with floor replacement in these bigger cars. It should be back here on July 3, barring natural disaster.  Then I can finish the rear quarters, doors, get some paint on it and assemble.  I need to have it driving by August 8th for a shakedown run and then to the TriFive Nationals in Bowling Green, KY August 11-14. 

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1 hour ago, sebastienbuick said:

Your friend is very talented in working floors, ... ;)
Is she original ? :) 

No, there are original aspects but custom color, custom cloth inserts in original style interior, etc.  I’m building this to be a quasi-daily driver.  

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I had Sport Sedan and it has new owner in Sweden. Consider this color combination of Sierra Gold and Adobe Beige. These 57s had certain colors that went with the model.

Funny thing I discovered at my local Napa shop was a promo posted showing my model.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was able to pick her up from the buddy that did the floor replacement and roof work.  She is looking so much better!  Now to sprint to the finish.  This car is being built as a daily driver so the results won't be show quality, but they will be durable.  I'm sure I will rework certain parts of her later on but I need to have this car to the TriFive Nationals on August 11th.  

 

Front doors are finished, rear still need work.  I am also reskinning the rear quarters, I have a good smooth set to put on.  Roof is pretty much finished. 

 

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What do you think of my new radiator fan?  Think it will push enough air?  HA! 

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Good looking car. I like that youre re doing a 4 door. I dont remember the last time I saw one at a show. I have a buddy that did a reso mod 57 a few years ago that turned out really nice.

 

If these pics are current, I am pulling for you. Looks like a lot of work yet to be done in a couple of weeks!

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More sanding, priming, and pounding.  Then my wife decided she needed to come out and “help” clean up my workshop since I need to clean out a storage shed Tuesday. That means car work = 0 when she arrived. 
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, my workshop has been thoroughly cleaned up and sorted but I'm not much farther along on the car and it needs to be drivable in 2 weeks.  Ugh.  Will post more tonight.  

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Trunk area almost done, just more sanding, filling, sanding, then final prime. Passenger side of roof almost finished. More work finished on dash, it will be pretty smooth once done!  And the zero mile 265 is coming out in favor of the 327 I built for it. 

 

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Hopefully this will be the last time the body is in the air.  I will RaptorLine the underside, clean up some welds, finish the install of my drivetrain, and marry the two together again for the last time for now. 

I will also finish the firewall weld smoothing and paint. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Tank done, completely painted with sender installed and straps painted with foam on back side. Now to mount it in the morning. 
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Short block finished, will get the rest of it assembled tomorrow and hopefully put in the chassis.  
 

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Edited by AURktman (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
2 hours ago, AURktman said:

I did the passenger front door in single stage to check my bodywork and see how it will look with the chrome on.

That honestly looks like "a brand new door back in 1957".  Impressive.  I'd bet that test spray and chrome laid on it is a real morale boost in the project outlook.

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It was a massive morale boost!  This car has drawn more blood and sweat than any other project I’ve ever had.  Now to finish the other 3 doors and rear quarter panels. 
 

Also, my trim is laying upside down so pay no attention to it. 😄

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I’ve learned what a pain it is to block sand a sport sedan roof with no rotisserie.   Ugh.  I would rather go back through Army basic again.  Or at least spend two weeks at 30th AG…. Lol…

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I keep forgetting to snap photos of the roof as I progress so I used a snapshot from my webcam.  There has to be 10 pounds of filler and primer dust on the ground now and I’ve vacuumed it twice. It won’t be perfect, but it’s a driver anyway.  
 

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The firewall was bugging me so I lifted the body again and resanded/filled/sanded, primed, sealed, and resprayed.  
 

Here it is in sealer, I just finished respraying paint and no photos yet. 
 

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