John & Nancy Kostelic's 1957 Chevy Bel Air
(from Volume 17, Issue 190)

For John and Nancy Kostelic of Lake Wales, Florida, it’s been quite a journey leading up to their gorgeous 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Having purchased a 1957 Thunderbird in 1960 as a daily driver, then retiring and moving to Florida in 1995 from Michigan, they decided to get the Thunderbird restored. It was finished in 1998, which then left them wondering “What’s next?”.

They thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have 1957 Chevy?”. After a short search they were able to purchase one immediately (in 1998), and the work started. However, this time there were numerous struggles along the way, with lots of changes, nothing being done for months, and employee problems at the restoration shop. This stage of the restoration took until 2007....and it was only 75% done. They were fortunate to run across Mike Pocquette at Pocquette Customs in Haines City, Florida, who took over the project, finished the detail work, and fixed items that were not working properly on the car.

Next the ‘57 went to A.J. Gisonda at Street Seats in New Port Richey for its beautiful interior. There it received white ultra-leather upholstery with red and chrome accents, plus indirect lighting. The inside door handles have been removed, and a mechanical lever was installed under the arm rest to open the doors from the inside, while staying completely out of sight. All of the accessory controls have been hidden inside the console for a clean look while still allowing easy access, and billet accents include the dash insert, column mounted shifter, and pedals. For entertainment there is a custom sound system with cool mesh speaker grills sculpted into the console and the middle of the back seats, plus a DVD player and 7-inch monitor placed in the glove box, with an under dash antenna keeping the exterior lines clutter free.

The car is not a stock ‘57 Chevy, so under the hood lies a chromed out 519 Chevy V-8 with dual 4-barrel carbs, mated to a 700R4 overdrive automatic transmission. The rear has been tubbed out 10-inches to accommodate deep dish wheels, rack and pinion steering is now utilized, and air ride suspension allows the ride height to be adjusted for cruising comfort, or a low slung stance when parked.

The bright paint is a Honda Red color, which in addition to the stock stainless trim is accented by a set of Cragar rims, a California one piece front bumper with aluminum “bullets”, and a Nomad rear bumper. One slick item that might be overlooked by the casual observer is that the exhaust was rerouted to come through the bumper, in place of the back-up lights.

After all the years of waiting, many dollars, and lots of frustration, John and Nancy were happy to have the car finally completed. They enjoy taking it to many car shows to display their new ride, meet friends, and possibly add another trophy to their collection. We’re glad they brought it to our Beach Blast 16 in Cocoa Beach on May 16, 2010, so we could get the chance to shoot it for a feature. The car might have been more than 10 years in the making, but I’m sure everyone who sees it will agree, it was worth the wait. CN