When it comes to building a lowrider, there’s a varying degree of quality that’s expected from each owner. You’ve got your fly-by-night builders who are content with wavy lines and misaligned doorjambs, while others expect nothing but the best. On the flipside, you’ve always got to have the guys who buy project vehicles that sit, and who, years later, still have the parts just as scattered as their plans and excuses.
But this is what makes lowriding fun and it’s also what keeps the scene alive. There’s a lot of drama and a lot of rumors, but at the end of the day, it’s all fun, and the personalities and varying results produce a seascape of cars and mischief to enjoy. This variance doesn’t end in just expectation. Actually it begins in the style of car that each person wants to build at the start. Some like full-custom rides and others mild, but the true gem for any car collector and hardcore enthusiast would have to be those interested in full restorations; ie, the real OGs.
Let’s face it, building a custom car requires a boatload of imagination (not to mention money), and in the grand scheme of things, the work is no less hard (or cheaper) when it comes to building a traditional OG. These rides typically require nothing but the hard to find NOS or refinished parts, and if you can’t find those then you have to find someone who can fix what you have. This is where patience, a commitment to excellence, sheer knowledge and a network of friends come in handy. Just ask Chris Roark of Vacaville, California. He’s the proud owner of this one-of-a-kind ride.
The buildup of Chris’s ’57 Chevy Bel Air had a construction time of four years and the result is a car which lives up to its name “Silver Legacy.” The vehicle is a fully restored gem, and even better and more valuable is the fact that it’s a matching numbers vehicle.
The exterior wasn’t too shabby, but still required a full makeover from the Darren “Big Dawg” Gonzalez of Superior Auto Body in Dixon, California. The full suspension was then revitalized and retuned. Since it was a full OG restoration, the use of hydros or airbags was definitely out of the question. Looking underneath the vehicle is like viewing a car that just rolled right off of the factory lot. Firing up the original 283-c.i.d. V-8 brings a strong and throaty rumble, and with all of the components overhauled, it’ll be sure to supply years of guaranteed performance and reliable fun.
A quick look around the vehicle reveals almost every factory option available on the car such as dual antennas, Continental kit, spotlights, nail guards, front bumper guards, skirts, scuff pads and EZ eyeglass as well as the original license plates. The attention to detail and original parts is so extensive that even the original Wonderbar radio is connected to the Wonder Amp located under the glove box. The radio and amp aren’t only showcased in great condition, but they even work thanks to a rebuild by the Radio Doctor.
So with all of this work and time spent on Chris’s Bel Air, it’s no wonder that the car landed the cover for this month’s issue. This honor has been a long time in coming, but the time has finally arrived, which just goes to show you another aspect of lowriding and that’s making this family lifestyle something that we can pass on for generations to come.
Owner: Chris Roark
Vehicle: ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air
City/State: Vacaville, California
Club: Oldies C.C.-East Bay
Engine/Drivetrain: Complete with the original dual exhaust and Powerglide three-speed transmission, this Chevrolet is powered by a rebuilt 283-c.i.d. V-8 which was handled by Kurt Pedracci. To help feed the hungry cylinders, the factory fuel injection was rebuilt by Hot Rod Machine, while Chuck Smith of C&C Customs handled the assembly.
Body/Paint: Darren “Big Dawg” Gonzalez from Superior Auto Body in Dixon, California, massaged all of the imperfections out and performed an exterior makeover which was finished off in the factory Inca Silver color. After final color sanding and waxing, the refinished chrome pieces were brought down from Walker’s Chrome Shop in Shasta, California, and installed.
Interior: Reupholstery by Gary Garner of Baker’s Upholstery. Additional interior parts include vacuum ashtray, rear power antenna switch, compass, vanity mirrors, power windows, power seat and original floor mats.
Sound System: The audio/video system was done by “Captain Kirk” Knutsen of C&C Customs. The all-original Wonderbar unit was rebuilt by the “Radio Doctor.”
Suspension: The original suspension was revamped by Chris.
Tires: 7.50×14 four-ply BFGoodrich