Like a blast furnace, the desert heat sucks the moisture from your skin faster than a bunch of frat boys can empty a keg. As you blow past the next herd of minivans, a flash on the horizon in your mirror betrays a presence gaining on you…fast. Raking the X-ray specs from your face you peer into the looking glass trying to differentiate between metal and mirage. And before you can say, “I love duct tape,” he’s around you in a blur of red and chrome—and gone.

John Kaiser loves to blast through the desert in his ’57 Bel Air. That’s what it was built for and that’s what he uses it for—driving. John had a ’57 in high school that he raced in Southern California. The car was runner-up at the Winternationals in the early ’60s with a top speed of 108 mph and best e.t. of 12.60. Life was good, but it eventually got in the way and John sent his ’57 home with a new owner. Years later, motivated by the memories of his high school ride, John located a fully restored ’57 hardtop and began to build a modern interpretation of his former ride. The requirements? Go fast, stop fast, and corner like it’s on rails. With that focus in mind, he dove in.

By the time the car rolled out into the Arizona sun for the first time, John found himself behind the wheel of a top-notch Pro Touring–style road rocket able to tackle a 2,000-mile-plus road trip at the drop of a hat, without flinching. And he proved it by joining us on Americruise, where he drove it round-trip with nary a hiccup.