CAL-RODS FEATURED CAR MAY 2016
by Ray Mahoney
Owner: Jim Salazar
1957 CHEVROLET BEL AIR SPORTS COUPE
ENGINE: ZZ 383CU IN G.M. HIGH PERFORMANCE
REAREND: FORD CURRIE 9”POSI 3.50:1 RATIO
FRONT CLIP: CAMARO
GAUGES: AUTO METER
WHEELS: BOYD EARLY STEEL BILLET
COLOR: VIPER RED
Jim Salazar’s assiduous work shows in every detail of his ’57 Bel Air Sports Coupe. All wiring, heater and A/C hoses have been hidden in the engine room with plenty of chrome to impress even the novice. Jim removed all the Bel Air gold trim (front grill, louvers and chevrons) and replaced them with chrome trim for a smooth flowing look that works well with all the hand polished stainless trim that he did himself. A three piece front bumper was replaced with a one piece ‘California bumper’, Boyd Billet wheels supporting a 9” Ford Currie rear end, 700R4 transmission, ZZ high performance Stroker and a Camaro front clip making it a striking stand out Classic.
Purchased in Temecula in 1998 Jim set about to build it his way with the help of fellow Cal-Rod member Bill Owens (both pictured below; Jim is on the right.). Jim bought all the parts, engine rear end, transmission etc., and set them aside; once the body was done they spent weekends for 2 years turning wrenches on the rebuild. A graduate of Citrus College, LA Trade Tech, San Gabriel High School and a certified Cal/OSHA crane surveyor. Jim has worked for Konecranes America since 1984. He also owned a machine shop and body shop in the early ‘80s.
Originally manufactured with power steering, power brakes, power seats, power windows; and amazingly both seat and windows still work. Jim went on to install: Am-Fm Cassette, new springs, CD in the trunk, front disc brakes and booster, new rubber and new glass.
The 1957 Chevrolet was introduced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors in September 1956. It was available in three series models: the upscale Bel Air, the mid-range "two-ten", and the "one-fifty". A two-door station wagon, the Nomad was produced as a Bel Air model. An upscale trim option called the "Delray" was available for two-ten 2-door sedans. It is a popular and sought after classic car. These vehicles are often restored to their original condition and sometimes modified. The car's image has been frequently used in toys, graphics, music, movies and television. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Dubbed by many as the ‘baby Cadillac’ for its many similarities, it’s hard to believe Ford out sold Chevrolet in 1957. Some say it was because of the tubeless tire G.M. introduced that year made buyers uneasy, others say it was Ford’s new sleek and longer look, and still there’s, “Fords were cheaper in ‘57’”. Whatever the reason there’s no question that the ’57 Chevy is an iconic design still in demand and prized.
Jim has strong altruistic ideologies and believes in giving back to the community, which is the reason he joined Cal Rods; who are supporters of numerous charities. He participates in car shows that contribute, such as the Veterans or school fundraisers. It’s thanks to his efforts, support and caring that makes our hobby so great.