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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Project "Return To Tubby's": Dave's '57 2dr Sedan Resto-Mod Build

I named this build, Return To Tubby's, because as many of you trifivers may know, Project X was featured in the movie The Hollywood Knights. Back in the day, I had seen that car in Hot Rod magazine a few times, but when I saw it roll into Tubby's Drive-In, with the sound of the blower whine, and the general look of it, I was instantly hooked on '57's. That movie came out the year I graduated from high school. Full disclosure, I was a Mopar guy for most of my life, so those are the cars that I had built. My last project was something entirely different, a custom, ground-up build of a 1989 Jeep Wrangler. My wife said that was my last project car, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Well, to be honest, I couldn't leave this Earth with a Jeep as my last build. I needed to make the last build a classic hot rod. So, I wore down the wife and she finally gave me permission to do one last project. She's a Chevy gal, so convincing her to build a '57 Chevy wasn't too difficult. The only caveat was, I had to sell the Jeep to help fund the '57 build. No problem, since I needed the garage space for the '57 anyway. I immediately put the Jeep up for sale, and began my search for a suitable '57 roller.
I didn't want to buy a complete running car for three reasons. One, it would cost more. Two, I would be paying for a bunch of parts that I would be replacing anyway. And three, generally speaking, a stripped down body is much easier to inspect for rust issues.
I found this roller on craigslist. Compared to a pair of rust bucket '57's that one shady character had outright lied to me about regarding their condition, this one is incredibly solid, with zero rot. Here's the back story on it:

It lived almost all of its life in Alabama. It has 80,006 original miles. It was built in Flint, MI. It orignally was painted Sierra Gold with Adobe Beige roof. It had the Delray interior with imitation leather upholstery in tan and copper. The gentleman who sold it to me had tried many times over the years to buy the car from an old lady that owned it and drove it just twice a week, but she didn't want to part with it. Somehow, several years later, the car landed in a restoration shop in Chattanooga, TN. While it was there, the body was put on a rotisserie, had new floor pans installed, and the body was blocked straight and given a coat of black epoxy primer. The frame and suspension parts appear to have been media blasted, epoxy primed and painted, and new bushings and ball joints installed. However, in the middle of this restoration work, the shop went belly up for unknown reasons. The contents of the business were auctioned off, and the seller was finally able to buy the car he wanted so badly, and its parts. He kept it for about a year, and eventually realized that he didn't have the time to work on and finish the '57, so he put it up for sale. I purchased the car, all of the parts, plus the rotisserie that it was on, for $7,500.

The basic build theme is to restore the exterior to original. The interior will be mostly original, except the front bench seat will be replaced with a pair of bucket seats from a '63 Pontiac Grand Prix, and a Lokar automatic shifter living between them. Underneath will be a 480HP LS3 crate engine, rebuilt 4L80E automatic with a 3,000 stall converter, and 9" Ford rear with 4.11 gears...because, "with 4.11 gears, she can really get lost!" :)

This is my first tri-five build, which means I've got a steep learning curve, but I'm up to the challenge. I really enjoy the build process. When I was a kid, I loved building models, and this is just a big model to me. I'll be asking lots of questions from you guys as the build progresses. So, with that said......let the fun begin!!

How she sits at the moment.









 

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cool project, thanks for sharing. looks like a nice solid start too, have fun with it. :tu
 

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It surely does appear solid, and the dash isn't all whacked up either. Sounds like you're going to build a good cruiser. Have a buncha fun man!
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
A few things for the build arrived this week.

The first order of business will be installing the Joe Lutz smoothie recessed firewall. The only other sheet metal modification to the body will be mini tubs.


Hooker 2292 headers.


Holley 302-1 oil pan.


CPP 500 steering box also came in. Steering boxes are boring to look at, so no pic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
It surely does appear solid, and the dash isn't all whacked up either. Sounds like you're going to build a good cruiser. Have a buncha fun man!
Thanks, nad427! I had looked at several VERY rusty '57 projects for sale, and they were more work than I wanted to deal with. I want to spend my time building a car, not repairing a car.
Yes, I want a cruiser that is reliable and comfortable enough to do the Hot Rod Power Tour if I wanted to. She won't be just another pretty face, either. My performance goal for the car is to run low 12's/high 11's in the 1/4. Maybe I should call it a Resto-Rod.
 

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Looks SOLID. Like the Firewall too. Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Another craigslist score. Bought a 1993 4L80E trans to rebuild. I ordered a rebuild kit, a TransGo shift kit, and new internal and external wiring harnesses for it. I'm going to take it to a local transmission shop that I always use. It's just a one man shop, but this guy knows transmissions like no one else. He doesn't talk a lot, he just puts them together perfectly every time, and his prices are reasonable. I can sleep at night, knowing that he built the trans. He's a drag racer, so he knows performance and racing modifications, too. For the guys living in the Tampa Bay area and need a GOOD trans shop, look up Paul Doorn at LIP Performance in Safety Harbor. He's been building transmissions for over 40 years.

 

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Another craigslist score. Bought a 1993 4L80E trans to rebuild. I ordered a rebuild kit, a TransGo shift kit, and new internal and external wiring harnesses for it. I'm going to take it to a local transmission shop that I always use. It's just a one man shop, but this guy knows transmissions like no one else. He doesn't talk a lot, he just puts them together perfectly every time, and his prices are reasonable. I can sleep at night, knowing that he built the trans. He's a drag racer, so he knows performance and racing modifications, too. For the guys living in the Tampa Bay area and need a GOOD trans shop, look up Paul Doorn at LIP Performance in Safety Harbor. He's been building transmissions for over 40 years.

that is not a trans for an ls engine, it is for a big block chevy. there is some differences in converter and belhousing. you will be short 1 bellhousing bolt and have to use a torque converter hub spacer etc for a ls application. might consider getting the correct trans.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
that is not a trans for an ls engine, it is for a big block chevy. there is some differences in converter and belhousing. you will be short 1 bellhousing bolt and have to use a torque converter hub spacer etc for a ls application. might consider getting the correct trans.
Thanks for the information, but I already knew this. Lots of guys are running a trans that is not "correct" behind their LS engines.
 

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Thanks for the information, but I already knew this. Lots of guys are running a trans that is not "correct" behind their LS engines.
just seems that if your starting off needing a rebuild you'd be dollars ahead getting the ls one and not needing the adapter for the converter snout and guaranteeing it will plug and play with the engine harness you use. not to mention it will use all 6 bell housing bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I picked up these bucket seats for the '57. They came out of a 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix. I won't be using the headrests. These seats have similar wide chrome trim as the early '60's Impala SS seats.
They will be rebuilt with new springs, foam and chrome trim.

 
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