SKIRTS &( PINK) SLIPS
Tony Jurado’s '57 Chevy 150
“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: https://bit.ly/2LLDRW9
He asked if I might have a customer who might want to take it on—then I could build it …
the right way!”