Almost every teenage boy in the early 1960s would loved to have had a 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible. This would be no different for John Perkins.
But John was probably luckier than most in that he owned a ’55 Chevy two-door. That, I would say, would have to be a close second. The dream of owning a ’57 Bel Air convertible was still one held by John.
As luck would have it, John, a student at Scecina High School, wrecked his ’55 Chevy but then bought an exceptionally nice and original black 1948 Plymouth coupe. He drove it for several years and then started to drive more current everyday cars of the late ’60s. It was always made clear to his friends that he still would buy a nice 1957 Chevy convertible.
He casually looked until 1988 when his brother-in-law, Keith Burl, told him about a 1957 two-door hardtop Sport coupe that a local body shop had for sale. A man from Illinois asked the shop to restore it but he only had a little money at the time and eventually just gave the car to the shop for the work that had been done.
John went to look at it, and he said it was in terrible shape.
It had no interior, and 5-gallon buckets had been turned upside down for seats!
John decided to buy it, knowing that a frame-up restoration would leave him with a very nice car for years to come.
He took the car to a father-son restoration team in Huntingburg, Ind., where Roger Hunter Sr. and his son, “Junior,” took on the project.
At the time Roger “Junior” was 15 and was the body man. John praised the quality of his work from Day 1. While dismantling the car, John discovered that the original color combination was turquoise and white, but he chose to finish the car in another original 1957 color: Matador Red.
John located a 350 Chevy V-8 engine and a turbo 350 transmission. He rebuilt the engine himself and used a completely original interior.
By 1991 the car was on the road, painted in a Desert Storm primer motif until the money was available for the paint job seen in the pictures. Since 1996, John and his wife, Deborah, have enjoyed cruising all over Indiana when weather permits.
In 1998, John had the Matador Red finish put on the car. Somewhere along the line he added a rack and pinion-style front end. Since then, the ease of driving has Deb enjoying driving it as much or more than John.
To this day they try to drive it as often as possible and still enter the cool Bel Air in three or four shows each year.
They have had their beautiful ’57 at the Southsider Voice cruise-ins, and I personally invited them to bring it back to our Sept. 5 event. so you may get a chance to see this old cruiser.
I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Until next week, keep on cruising!
Car Nutz Contributors
Big Dan Pfeiffer