You just can’t beat the classics, and no car fits the title better than the ’57 Chevy – it’s an auto icon. I’m excited to take a ride in one of the nicest looking ’57 Chevy’s around!

When Brad was a youngster (just a little bit younger than he is now), he remembers going to see the muscle cars at auto shows around Canterbury. The ‘57 Chevy’s were the cars that caught his eye.  From then, he’s always wanted one. A couple of years ago he was browsing on Trade Me and there it was – all beautiful deep red bodywork, jutting tailfins, rubber-tipped Dagmar’s, gleaming chrome and stainless, with a super charger poking up through the bonnet – the car of his dreams.

The Bel Air was the upscale model of the ’57 Chevy range. It’s a two-door, four-seater, originally shipped to New Zealand from the States. The car’s previous North Island owners had it set up for racing, but it’s now the perfect cruiser.

Brad’s quick to point out that it’s not original. Under the bonnet is a powerful 350ci V8. With power steering, disc brakes and a new four-speed electronic gear box, it looks and feels original, with a splash of modern updates.

I find myself climbing in what would normally be the driver’s side of the car – I hadn’t noticed it was left-hand drive! The door closes with a very solid ‘thunk’, and we’re off.

It’s a hot day, and, and there’s no air conditioning, so we take off with the windows wound down. Sitting in this car is truly like jumping back into the ‘50s! There’s tons of leg room – at least in the front; the old school dashboard looks the part; the bucket seats are very comfortable – it’s definitely a car designed for cruising; and it’s got just the right amount of ‘rumble’ to make sure every head turns as we drive through town.

As we hit the open road Brad can’t resist putting his foot down and I’m pushed back against the seat – holy smoke this car has power! “I shouldn’t really do that,” he grins. “I’m still running the motor in, but it’s a pure blast to drive. I can’t resist.”

Every nut, bolt and wire has been given the once-over, and it runs like a dream. “There’s still a bit of work to be done, but nothing major. I’m looking forward to being able to take the family out cruising this summer.”

Among the ‘things to be done’ is a new fuel injection system to boost performance and cut down on fuel consumption. “It’s a little bit thirsty, at the moment.” There’s also a bench seat to replace the current bucket seats.

When summer gets here, keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for Brad, cruising with the family in this fabulous piece of Americana.    It’s one very cool, very special car.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.