Everyone has a story about how their hot rod lifestyle got kick-started, but Alan Sewell's tale is one that most only dream about. Alan needed a car to get to and from school back in 1960, and his dad found an ad in the paper for a '50 Merc two-door for the grand sum of $125. When Alan and his dad arrived, the old lady told them the car was her son's, who unfortunately never returned from the Korean Conflict. When the garage door swung open, the Merc turned out to be a mild custom complete with a '53 DeSoto grille, '55 Pontiac side trim, full skirts, nosed and decked, teardrop spots, '56 Olds Fiesta spinner caps, wide whites, and a full dressed Flathead with three deuces. Not to mention the Merc was also outfitted with a metallic blue and white paintjob with period pinstriping. The funny part is that it took Alan's dad a few minutes to mull things over due to the asking price! Needless to say, Alan's journey through the space and time hot rod continuum was off in a flash.
Since then Alan has owned several handfuls of hot rods and customs. His latest came to him this past December when he sold a '47 Ford and was in the market for something new. While testing the waters in Arizona, a friend of his called and said he got a scoop on a '57 Chevy truck. Upon his return, Alan headed from his Naples Island, California, home to the nearby city of La Mirada to check out the Chevy. Although the truck was a garage-built project over 12 years ago, it was tasty, immaculate, stylish, and more importantly, sold.
The previous owner, Ralph Gailey, built the truck in his garage with his two sons, but just because the truck was homebuilt doesn't mean it lacked luster. In fact, this '57 looked like a new road warrior with one stout drivetrain and chassis. When Ralph and his sons built the truck, they ditched the stock front suspension in favor of a '78 Plymouth Volare clip. The torsion-bar Volare frontend gave the '57 IFS suspension with power disc brakes and power steering, a vast improvement over the stock parallel leaf straight-axle with drums. In the rear, the GM differential was yanked for a Ford 9-inch. Instead of stuffing in a 350 small-block, Ralph had Orange Engines build him a 383 stroker motor. The original 350 small-block was bored and stroked to a 383, and aluminum 9.5:1 pistons were stuffed in. A Competition Cams bumpstick was slid in, and an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and Edelbrock 650-cfm carburetor were bolted on. Once finished, the new big-inch small block screamed with 400 horsepower. Rounding out the package were billet valve covers and a K&N billet aluminum air cleaner. Channeling the power from the motor to the rearend was a Turbo 400 trans.
The truck's exterior was also done in the Gailey's garage. Highlighting the truck's factory lines is the fact that the '57 has been nosed, and the handles, emblems, trim, and firewall have all been shaved. The gas filler neck was shaved and relocated to the rear fender for the new gas tank mounted between the framerails. Once all the bodywork was finished, Ralph's nephew, Leonard Malone, made a trip over to the garage and sprayed the '57 in DuPont Lexus white. As for the interior, Amadeus Upholstery in Lawndale, California, stitched up the wine-colored tweed and leather interior based around a '78 Chevy truck bench seat.
When Alan purchased the truck, he had a few ideas of his own to give the '57 a more distinctive look. He contacted good friend Gary Paolucci and had him install new Auto Meter gauges with a new billet aluminum bezel. He also had Gary install a new Grant steering wheel. Alan's next move is what drastically changed the hauler. He contacted Ken Esajian at Esajian Wheel in Torrance, California, for a new set of wheels. Ken concocted a custom set of wheels made of Boyd Coddington Smoothie II centers sandblasted and painted cast iron, then mated to a soft-lip aluminum rim; talk about a one-two punch! The end result is 18x10-inch rollers with 295/45 tires in the rear, and 18x8-inch rollers with 235/50 in the front.
Looking back on everything, one could say Alan has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, since killer rides seem to fall into his lap!