Sometimes building a car is the easy part. Finding one though is a different matter. John Lewis of Huntington Beach, California, had searched for a ’57 Chevy candidate to restore for almost five years. Then one day he was leafing through a copy of Hemmings Motor News and came across a subtle ad that described a partially restored ’57 Chevy hardtop, rust-free and flawless, located in Cornville, Arizona—about two hours north of Phoenix in some pretty desolate terrain. But John had a feeling about the car and was determined. After a phone call and some directions, he made the 500-mile trip from Southern California the next morning.

When John arrived, he found an unfinished restoration project. Under several inches of dirt sat a disassembled ’57 hardtop. Several hours later, he struck a deal and filled up 22 boxes with Chevy parts. Once back to Huntington Beach, John made quick work out of completing his new prize. After washing the car, John found a show-quality Ferrari-red lacquer paint job. The frame had been completely detailed and powdercoated.

To maintain the concours standards, John added a new interior with factory colors and patterns. Because shiny new chrome on a ’57 looks cool, he had every piece replated and all the stainless steel pieces polished. Since tri-five Chevys aren’t famous for quick steering, he installed an ididit steering column and a 605 power-steering box. To propel the hardtop, John and his friend Terry Stokes from Orange, California, rebuilt and installed a 0.030-over 327 engine. Performance enhancements to the small-block include a Holley aluminum intake manifold, an Edelbrock carburetor, and one of Chevrolet’s performance hydraulic camshafts. Adding that performance touch is a Muncie four-speed and Hurst shifter. Since any cool car needs a hot-sounding exhaust, John added a set of Hooker ceramic-coated headers connected to 3-inch, three-chamber Flowmaster mufflers. Up front, he installed a pair of 2-inch dropped spindles and power disc brakes. For wheels, John located a set of polished 200S rims wrapped with BFGoodrich TAs, P215/65R15 front and P235/60R15 rear.

But the most enjoyment John gets is from cruising his ’57 down Pacific Coast Highway at sunrise. His hometown of Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City, is filled with great places to cruise. That’s the fun part.