1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible With LS Power and A Few Surprises – Hot Rod

A Stunning Garage-Find Tri-Five Chevy—Plus Body-Off Photos from The Build

When you decide to build one of the most popular and classic cars in the world, success is pretty much guaranteed. No car fits that description better than the 1957 Chevy. It’s the car that even non-car people know and love, and the car that enthusiasts have built in every conceivable style—from happy days retro restos to dragstrip-pounding Gassers, circle-track warriors, traditional customs, and classy street rods. Whichever way you build one, people will love it.

A couple of years ago, Greg & Judy Hrehovcsik brought a wildly restyled 1957 Chevy One-Fifty to the Detroit Autorama and won the top prize, the Ridler Award. Two weeks later, the Autorama promoters were in Omaha, Nebraska, presenting the World of Wheels Show, where a different 1957 Chevy was earning a bunch of awards. Bruce and Jodi Forbes’ beautiful black 1957 Chevy Bel Air, built by Boesch Auto Body, won a Heartland Top 10 trophy plus awards for Outstanding Engine, Outstanding Interior, and Custom Convertible.

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Forbes is a Nebraska farmer from the extremely small town of Brunswick. He’s also a 1957 Chevy fan, but the Two-Ten hardtop he got for a street rod project turned out to be too far gone to be saved. As it turned out, there was another ’57 hidden in a garage a mile away, waiting to be built. He told us, “One day at the farm, my employee mentioned that he had a 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible at his house in town. Brunswick (population 20) is only a mile away, so we went to town and I acquired ownership of the car that day.”

The garage-find Bel Air convertible was in better shape than the worn-out Two-Ten, but it still needed a lot of work before it could be the street machine that Forbes envisioned. He knew that the guy who could do that work was top-shelf hot rod builder and fellow Nebraskan Dale Boesch at Boesch Auto Body in Humphrey.

Boesch’s shop is the architectural version of a sleeper. From the outside, there’s nothing about the building that might make you look too hard—unless you wonder what’s going on behind the commercial garage doors. The cars being built behind those doors are impressive and have been getting attention at car shows, in magazine pages, and on the street. Boesch builds just about every type of hot rod—from 750-horsepower Camaros to his own stunning 1934 Ford convertible and everything in between—like the Forbes’ Tri-Five Chevy you’re reading about now.

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Boesch’s style—a three-way mix of classic looks, updated details, and loads of performance—can be found all over the Chevy. The outer appearance retains all the details we love about 1957 Chevys. The bumper bullets were eliminated, but the hood rockets remain. The decklid wears the crossed flags from the fenders of a fuel-injected car. The lid lock was removed, and the license plate moved to the bumper’s center section, transplanted from a station wagon. A lot of sheetmetal massaging went into “flattening” of the car’s side panels. The wheelwells were filled with 18-inch Clutch series wheels from Boze Alloys to add some contemporary flavor to the classic style of the car. The perfect black paint job invites infinite personality interpretations, from the sophistication of a tuxedo to the rebelliousness of a leather jacket.

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Genuine black leather finishes the interior of the Chevy. Recovery Room Interior in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, blended original 1957 Chevy “cloud” patterned material to tie in some original influence. Sixties muscle car flavor comes with the 1964 Chevelle seats and console and a 1968 Camaro steering wheel. The dash features a Dakota Digital VHX 1957 Chevy gauges kit, along with a RetroSound Wonder Bar head unit and vents for the Vintage Air A/C system.

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Boesch sent us various photos of the chassis with the body off so that we could see the level of detail in the Chevy’s undercarriage. The Roadster Shop provided the stainless framerails, plus front and rear suspension components—with a Mustang II style independent frontend to the triangulated four-link rear, with QA1 coilovers and Wilwood disc brakes mounted at all corners. The silver and black two-tone paint is accented with subtle red pinstriping.

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The heartbeat of this Bel Air is a Chevy 6.0L LS engine built at Boesch Auto Body. Art Morrison-built headers suit the car’s personality more than the factory manifold. MagnaFlow XL mufflers guarantee that the wagon sounds as good as it looks. Hugger orange inspired paint is contrasted by the polished Edelbrock manifold, custom valve covers, and chrome headers from Speedway Motors. Norfolk Transmission built the 700R4 transmission, which sends torque to 3.89:1 gears in the Ford 9-inch rearend.

It was eight years between the day Bruce Forbes bought the beginnings of this beautiful 1957 Chevy convertible and the day the finished car collected all those awards at the Omaha World of Wheels. Since then, it’s been two years, a whole lot of miles, and countless good times.

Building This 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible

Body & Paint

  • 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible body
  • Body sides “flattened,” gaps welded, sheetmetal shrunk, Boesch Auto Body
  • One-piece front bumpers shaved
  • Stock rear bumper with Chevy station wagon center section
  • Juliano’s LED headlights
  • LED taillights
  • Gray tint glass
  • Axalta Ultra Black paint
  • Trim repaired and polished by B&B Fabrication
  • Chrome plating by Industrial Plating

Chassis

  • The Roadster Shop stainless steel framerails
  • The Roadster Shop front and rear suspension
  • Ford 9-inch rearend, 3.89:1 gears, limited slip
  • Rear triangulated 4-link
  • Mustang II 2-inch drop spindles
  • Rack and pinion steering
  • Front and rear QA1 coilover shocks
  • Front and rear antiroll bars
  • Wilwood 13-inch front disc brakes, Wilwood 12-inch rear disc brakes
  • ABS Power Brake electric master cylinder
  • Custom Rock Valley 30-gallon stainless fuel tank

Wheels & Tires

  • Boze Alloys Clutch series, 18×8 and 18×10
  • Michelin Pilot Sport tires, 265/35R18 and 275/35R18

Engine & Transmission

  • Chevy LS 6.0L engine, assembly by Boesch Auto Body
  • Stock cylinder heads
  • Comp Cams camshaft and valve springs
  • Edelbrock intake manifold
  • Edelbrock water pump
  • Spal fan
  • Be Cool aluminum radiator
  • Powermaster alternator
  • Street & Performance air cleaner
  • Smooth valve covers
  • Speedway Motors headers
  • Custom exhaust by Boesch Auto Body
  • Flowmaster 50 Series mufflers
  • GM 700R4 transmission, assembled by Norfolk Transmission
  • Inland Empire Driveline aluminum driveshaft

Interior

  • 1964 Chevelle seats
  • Black leather and 1957 Chevrolet fabric upholstery by Recovery Room Interior
  • Salt & pepper square weave carpet
  • Dakota Digital VHX gauges
  • RetroSound Wonder Bar audio
  • Vintage Air air conditioning
  • 1968 Camaro steering wheel
  • Lokar shifter
  • American Autowire wiring system

See all 35 photos


See all 35 photos

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