After a friend decided it was just too much work, Michael Hedin jumped at the chance to drag his '57 Chevy wagon out of a field in rural Michigan and take it home for a full rebuild. Prior to Michael's purchase 21 years ago, the car sat in the field for eight years, and before that it had been driven on the roads of California until 1976. The car was pretty complete except for a front bumper, front seat, and engine. Michael gathered the missing pieces that included a '59 283ci small-block and completed a full restoration by himself. Recent additions include disc brakes and American Racing Torq Thrust rims. Originally from Lansing and a third-generation GM employee, Michael feels the car is a natural fit in his garage.
We bought our '55 in 1990 as a rust-free, but gutted basket case after it's previous owner's wife gave him the ultimate ultimatum: get rid of it or lose her. The car had no front seat and no electrical system, the windshield was duct-taped in place, and all the stainless was in the trunk.
We did a two-year body-off restoration, and then we drove it-hard. I was active-duty Navy and we moved regularly, logging 25,000 bug-splattered miles from California to Virginia, to Florida, to Maine, and back to Virginia. The resulting road rash dictated a cosmetic upgrade (bodywork, paint, carpets, and chrome) in 2001. I was working in the Pentagon at the time of the terrorist attack, so Afghanistan and Iraq efforts focused my priorities on work. Progress on the car dragged out for four years.
The Chevy follows a '60s hot rod theme: finned aluminum Vette rocker covers, a four-bolt main 350 small-block, camel-hump fuelie heads, a 625-cfm Carter carb, headers, a Muncie M20 four-speed, polished American Torq Thrust rims, a Moon gas pedal, a metalflake steering wheel, tuck 'n' roll upholstery, tach mounted on the column, aftermarket gauges, and a Hurst shifter.
Concessions to modern reality include 605 power steering and disc brakes, MSD ignition, tilt column, sway bar, stereo, and radial tires. It gets its stance from Heidt's 2-inch dropped spindles and 1 1/2 coils cut from the front springs. Two-inch lowering blocks bring the rearend down. Denny Gattis, of Salinas, California, did the interior. The paint is Camaro medium blue metallic, sprayed by Rodger Elliott of Culpepper, Virginia.
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