Tony Jurado’s '57 Chevy 150

Street Rodder - - Skirts & (Pink) Slips -

“It’s a Gasser—

but it doesn’t have an axle un­der the hiked-up front end, or the rear quar­ters cut out, or …” Well, then, for the most part a Gasser that is not, as those iconic de­tails are what make it just that—at least from my and many oth­ers’ per­spec­tive, as ac­cord­ing to the NHRA class rules, Tony Jurado’s '57 Chevy does in fact meet the re­quire­ments spec­i­fied for a dual-pur­pose (street driven/track raced) Gas Coupe-Sedan. But we don’t need to let some of­fi­cial rules es­tab­lished way back in 1962 con­vo­lute the story now, do we? For all in­tents and pur­poses, Tony’s 150 is not a Gasser as we’ve come to know them a half-cen­tury later.

Those par­tic­u­lar street class rules were put into ef­fect due in no small part to cars such as Tony’s—the ran­dom fac­tory-delete fleet ve­hi­cles that some­how ended up with healthy

V-8s un­der their hoods rather than the smaller en­gines they were orig­i­nally de­signed to be equipped with. Def­i­nitely not some­thing your av­er­age bud­get-minded new car buyer would be in­ter­ested in, to the dis­may of many fast-talk­ing car sales­men back in Septem­ber 1956, as their at­tempts to wow a se­lect group of young men with the brand-new, top-of-the-line Bel Air Sport Coupe were fruit­less. No, they were af­ter the no-frills, bot­tom-of-the-line 150 Util­ity Sedan—the only one on the lot with the Ram­jet fuel-in­jected Su­per Turbo-Fire 283 V-8 in­stead of the thrifty Blue Flame 235 in­line-six. The Bel Air was made for chas­ing skirts; the 150, prop­erly op­tioned, was for chas­ing pink slips—with a sticker price two-thirds of what the fancy skirt chaser would set you back.

Tony’s not-so-eco­nom­i­cal sedan came by way of Bill Ganahl, who had orig­i­nally in­tended on build­ing it for him­self, but as

he ex­plains: “This is a car that I bought 10 years ago … I found it in the Bay Area and bought it be­cause it’s a real 150 Util­ity with no rear seat, ra­dio delete, sta­tion­ary quar­ter win­dows, and so on. But, more im­por­tantly, and what makes it so rare, is that it’s a fac­tory V-8 car. A vast ma­jor­ity of the Util­ity Sedans or­dered were six-cylin­der cars. So this may well have been or­dered from the fac­tory in 1957 to take straight to the dragstrip, or at least street race. My in­ten­tion was to build a cheap but cool patina’d street race car in an early ’60s style. I started col­lect­ing all the rare parts to make it a le­git­i­mate 150 delete car: num­bers-match­ing 283 block, heads, dual-quad in­take with matched Carter WCFBs, ex­haust man­i­folds, ra­dio and clock delete plates, and so on. I started re­pair­ing some of the mi­nor rust and dam­age in the sheet­metal—but as my shop was grow­ing I had less and less time to spend work­ing on my own car, and it got to the point where I wasn’t work­ing on it enough to jus­tify tak­ing up the space in my small shop at the time. So, like many of my ne­glected projects, I sold it to my dad.”

As some of you may re­call, his fa­ther, Pat, was the driv­ing force be­hind “Flash­back ’57,” a give­away project he did back in 1984 when he was a staff ed­i­tor at Hot Rod. It ap­peared that Pat was about to evoke a flash­back—or so that’s what Bill says his ini­tial in­ten­tion was. “He had a few op­tions and ideas—none as pe­ri­od­spe­cific and nut-and-bolt cor­rect as I wanted to do—but a cool '57 street racer, nonethe­less. He col­lected more parts, but even­tu­ally re­al­ized there was more work in­volved than he re­ally wanted to take on, so he asked if I might have a cus­tomer who might want to take it on—then I could build it … the right way!”

With­out re­ally know­ing it, one of the first to re­ceive a call from Bill was Tony Jurado. “I called Tony to ask him if he knew any­one who might be in­ter­ested

in a '57 project—with no in­ten­tion of sell­ing it to him—he im­me­di­ately sounded in­ter­ested him­self,” he con­tin­ues. “We talked about pos­si­ble ways to build the car, and I told him how many parts were al­ready col­lected to build an early ’60s race car. I ab­so­lutely in­sisted that it NOT have a straight axle and par­al­lel leaves up front, since so many peo­ple are build­ing Gassers these days. The whole point of the car was to build a

'57 Chevy that ac­tu­ally stood out from the crowd. It’s sup­posed to be the mid­dle ground: def­i­nitely not a street rod, but not a wild Gasser ei­ther ... just a well-built, very nice, pe­riod-cor­rect, early ’60s street car. Tony agreed, and we built what you see here.”

What you see here, re­splen­dent in GM An­niver­sary Gold (first used by GM in 1962 to com­mem­o­rate Chevro­let’s 50th an­niver­sary—co­in­ci­den­tally, the same year NHRA es­tab­lished those afore­men­tioned street class rules) by Joe Com­pani/Com­pani Color, was more of a restora­tion than any­thing else. Of course, the Torq Thrusts, the cheater slicks on chrome-re­verse, and that straight­edge ac­cu­rate pleated in­te­rior by Chris Plante/ Plante In­te­rior Co. would kind of dis­qual­ify it un­der the 1,000-point CCI judg­ing cri­te­ria—but that’s where Bill (et al) was suc­cess­ful in his quest to make the Chevy stand out from the rest while re­tain­ing that mid­dleof-the-ground po­si­tion. “I re­searched and re­stored the car more as a nut-and-bolt restora­tion, keep­ing all the fac­tory de­tails, down to the wire looms and hard­ware, as if the car had been pur­chased from the fac­tory and given a coat of paint be­fore head­ing to the dragstrip,” Bill ex­plains. “We raised the front a bit with stiffer springs and low­ered the rear slightly with blocks. I had toyed with do­ing it an emer­ald green or root beer brown, but we sprayed out some sam­ples of the gold and ev­ery­one agreed it was the call.”

Mak­ing the right calls is only part of the equa­tion— ex­e­cut­ing them har­mo­niously, as South City Rod & Cus­tom has clearly done, is what it takes to cre­ate the stand­outs like Tony’s Chevy 150.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

He asked if I might have a cus­tomer who might want to take it on—then I could build it …

the right way!”

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