Tread softly here, folks, for you are walking amongst my memories.
My Dad bought a 4-door Chevrolet sedan in 1957. We had just returned from a failed business venture in British Columbia and as part of the failure he surrendered our car to the company that bought the equipment from the business. I suspect that one to have been a green Buick but I am not entirely sure…I was interested in other things, and part of my mind may be blocking out some of the parts of that time. In any case when we got back to Calgary and my Dad recommenced work for his old firm, we got the Chevy.
I was unimpressed with the colour – black with a silver trim piece at the rear quarter. There was silver trim in the interior on the dash and the bench seats, but for the most part it was black. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my Dad opted for the largest and most powerful engine in the Chevrolet range at the time to be put in. This was to prove a good move in future years.
My part of the car was the back seat – shared with various dogs and bags of groceries. No seat belts at the time, but my Mother always made me sit well back all the time – no standing and gawking over the front seats. They must have trusted my 9-year old’s judgement – there were no child-proof locks for the rear doors. The wonderful thing about the rear seat of the ’57 was the width of it. Many trips started out at dawn as we travelled across the US and Canada and many times I was sleeping stretched out on that seat until morning tea.
The car was in our possession until 1964 – 7 years of hard work. It hauled work barges in Alberta, dredging parts in British Columbia, and the whole family as far east as Quebec and as far south as Mexico city. The dog set it on fire briefly in Red Deer but it survived. It also survived an earthquake and innumerable blizzards and when it was finally traded in on an International Harvester Scout in ’64 it was still not dented or burning oil. I WISH I HAD THAT CAR!
Well, I guess I do, in as far as I have seen its Australian kustom twin here at the Father’s Day hot rod show in Fremantle. Please look at the black ’57 4-door – the interior is RH drive and tuck-and-roll pleated upholstery, but the outside is pure 1957 McLeod Trail Motors in Calgary…or at least I like to think so.
Please also look at the wonderful stock job on the turquoise ’57 seen last year at the Malaga Super Model Car Sunday. The trim is flawless on this one – you can’t mistake the ’57 Chevy machine guns on the bonnet. I always liked to think of them as being a stylistic carryover from a Curtiss P-40. My own Flying Tiger.
This year also brought me a different and more sombre take on the car. You might wonder how much more sombre you could get than a black Bel Air but look at what has been done on the purple one. I can understand the concept here with the repainting of the chrome, and in some spots it seems to smooth out the lines, but part of me thinks that the restyling has gone wrong. I do like the bow ties on the side flash, but the same pattern on the dash looks kind of cheap. I would quietly re-edit the trim if it fell into my hands. Either re-chrome and display the heritage or go radical kustom and shave everything and french in the machine guns to make turn signals. And plush up the interior.
Note – the black 4-door never had a nickname or a fancy licence plate. We never thought it needed one.