Steve Bender wanted to build the ultimate ’57 Chevy. That’s an incredible goal and requires a depth of experience, plenty of determination, and a water-cooled checkbook. But Steve was committed, and after locating a ’57 hardtop six years ago, he jumped headfirst into his mission.

Because careful planning is paramount to success, Steve put lots of time into establishing his goals, including deciding on the perfect color. As Steve says, “Blending the right color became the toughest part. I wanted a color that paid homage to Matador Red but looked modern.” To do that, he enlisted the help of painter John Byers. The duo came up with a shade they call ginger pearl that changes its hue in differing light conditions. To give the body a cleaner look, Byers’ team shaved the hood, trunk, door handles, and bumpers.

To motivate the Bel Air, Steve wanted something hot but different. He chose one of Chevrolet’s new 502ci powerplants and added an ACCEL SuperRam electronic fuel injection (EFI) unit with ACCEL’s matching camshaft. This high-tech induction system delivers the optimal blend of air and fuel to efficiently power the 502ci Rat motor. Because visual impact is one of this car’s hallmarks, Steve polished or coated almost every engine piece. To continue the sano look, he hid the master cylinder under the dash.

For exhaust tasks, the Rat is outfitted with a set of Sanderson headers connected to 2-½-inch exhaust pipes. Backing up the 502’s power is a Richmond six-speed transmission and a Centerforce clutch. Because ultimate street rods need to turn, stop, and handle, Steve had Dale Celli at Hot Rod Fabrication incorporated a complete ’91 Corvette suspension system. This required engineering mounting points between the ’57 frame and the Corvette independent rear axle assembly out back, front tubular A-arms, a rack-and-pinion steering system for the front, and stock Corvette disc brakes on all four corners.

Inside the ’57 is a journey from the past to the future. For comfort, Rocky Peters at Parkland Upholstery stitched up yards of leather in French vanilla and attached it to everything soft. For cool cruising, a Vintage Air unit fits discreetly in the dash while a Dakota Digital dash displays engine information. For entertainment, the ’57’s console is fitted with a 6-inch television/VHS/AM/FM/ eight-disc CD system with six speakers. Is this indeed the ultimate ’57? You can decide for yourself. Either way it’s a player.