Jim Hershberger’s ’57 Chevy Bel Air Shakes the Streets
Many times it’s the simplest experience that opens the door for someone to pave a new path in life, especially if it happens at a young age. For Jim Hershberger of Henderson, Maryland, that particular moment happened when riding home on the school bus one day when he heard the sounds of a thundering V-8 that literally shook the sides of the bus. Much to his surprise it was his older brother, Joe, in his ’67 Chevelle SS who caught his attention with that wicked muscle car, forever changing his path. From that point on he was drawn into the performance world and spent plenty of time watching his brother work on cars in the family driveway.
He eventually earned his license and the keys to a ’70 Plymouth Duster and began to frequent the local Tastee-Freez in Chestertown where he grew up, checking out the hottest cars on the strip on a regular basis. As time passed he and good friend Bobby Osborn frequented the local dragstrip every weekend where Osborn would run the strip and Jim would capture it all on video, leading to a friendship of over 30 years. Osborn later sourced a partially built Pro Street
’55 Chevy, which he completed for him at his shop in Fairlee. With a fascination for hopped-up cars, especially Tri-Five Chevys, another friend led him to a Pro Street
’57 Bel Air (25 years later) that was for sale locally, having recently arrived from Kansas. It was a solid, well-built car, ready for a full makeover to Jim’s specifications. A deal was made and the car was hauled back to his home shop for evaluation.
Working with Osborn he outlined the changes for the car. It was an easy decision to meet with Gary Corkell, owner of One-Off Rod & Custom in Middletown, Delaware, to bring the vision for the revamp to life. For a rock-solid base the car
was previously equipped with a factory frame, which was treated to custom crossmembers and back half to accommodate a massive injection of rubber. Out back a Strange Engineering S60 rear was packed with 4.10:1 gears spinning matching 35-spline axles and suspended in place by a custom four-link and draglink matched to QA1 double-adjustable coilover shocks. Up front to up the handling and set the stance, tubular upper and lower control arms were deftly matched to 2-inch dropped spindles and
QA1 coilover shocks with steering moving through a power rack-and-pinion unit. To add plenty of stopping power a Wilwood Engineering dual master pushes fluid through stainless lines to matching drilled and vented discs at each corner wearing four-piston calipers.
Linking it all to the street are a set of Weld Racing AlumaStar 2.0 wheels sized 15x4 in front and 15x15 out back (with double beadlocks) wearing Hoosier rubber.
To give the car plenty of hard-core performance Jim contacted Paul Rose at Rose Engine Service in Havre de Grace to build a 540ci big-block beast capable of spinning the Hoosiers. With the block massaged to perfection it was filled with a Bryant Racing Crank linked to Manley H-beam rods wearing JE forged aluminum pistons with a healthy thump from COMP Cams. A set of Dart aluminum heads make plenty of power, especially when combined with a BDS 8-71 supercharger topped with a custom EFI system. An MSD ignition sparks it to life and spent gases dump through a set of Lemons headers to a custom 41⁄ 2- inch stainless exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. It’s all good for a healthy 983 hp at the rear wheels. For moving the goods, a fully reworked Chevy TH400 by the House of Pain in Chestertown links to a driveshaft from QA1.
Wanting to give the body a dose of newfound allure, Corkell and his team stripped it to bare metal and followed by shaving the driprails, adding custom door handles from Kindig-It Design, crafting custom inner engine bay panels, and adding HID headlights. The team then set all the gaps, metal-finished the body, and prepped it for a decadent coating of BASF custom Black Cherry Pearl accented by a Snowflake White Pearl roof. Inside a custom dash was filled with Auto Meter dials to monitor the vitals while a Billet Specialties wheel linked to an ididit column steers the course and a Hurst stick pulls gears.
Brad Wurzbacher and the team at Lucky 7 Rod Shop gave the interior a face-lift, covering a set of custom buckets, side panels, and console in maroon Ultraleather and suede accented by black loop carpet while a Painless wiring harness and 10-point rollcage completes the office. This is one mean Street Shaker ready to take on the streets of Maryland.
For the digital experience: https://bit. ly/2LOBp13