1957 Chevy Stepside: Relentless Refinement
After a Quarter Century, This Truck Gets Better With Age
Fun on so many levels, it’s no wonder the custom-truck hobby is so popular. Some enjoy the hunt for that one last part to complete their all-original restoration. Others enjoy slicing and dicing their vintage tin until it sports a whole new personality. And drive your creation to a car show, earn a trophy or two, and the enjoyment begins on a whole new level. Kirk Peterson knows all about that progression, having owned this beautiful ’57 Chevy for 26 years. As you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t look like this when he first spotted it rusting it in a farmer’s field. Kirk contacted the owner to get permission to try and start the motor. It hadn’t run in five years, but Kirk and a friend managed to get it fired up. He bought the truck, replaced a few essentials, and the old Chevy became a daily driven work truck in his landscaping business. After about four years, he decided to restore the body back to original condition, adding a custom pearl white paint job with red scallops.
Kirk’s shift to the next phase occurred unexpectedly when the freshly painted Bow Tie entered its first car show. That’s where he met Chopper Henson from Navarre, Florida, an experienced custom-car builder with a colorful name. Before long, Chopper and his new owner-and-assistant were working on the ’57 together, shaving the body, chopping 4 inches from the top, suiciding the doors, rounding the corners on the tilt-forward hood, designing a floating grille, and creating the unique eyebrows over the headlights. Kirk later installed an aftermarket Stepside bed from Mar-K, adding 3/4-inch stained oak planks and a custom rollpan with LED slotted taillights.
Motive power was next, but before any high hp additions, they boxed the original frame and reinforced it with additional crossmembers to eliminate any flex. A Heidts Mustang II front end with power rack-and-pinion steering along with disc brakes and Eaton 3-inch drop springs brought the old truck into the new millennium. The same approach was used in the rear, adapting a Cadillac Allante disc brake rear, fitted with 3.73 gears and held in place with a custom four-link. As the perfect finishing touch, Kirk added a Ride Tech air suspension with Shock Waves on all four corners, using a Viair 450 compressor to fill the reserve tank mounted on the frame. Kirk found a deal on a wrecked Corvette with only 3,500 miles, salvaging the LT1 V-8 and 4L60E automatic transmission. In order to create the best-handling truck possible, the motor was positioned low in the chassis for a correspondingly low center of gravity. The power from the Corvette motor was more than adequate, so he limited the mods to a set of Sanderson headers and 25-pound injectors, along with some careful detailing in the engine compartment.
Moving inside, Kirk’s wife Diana took the lead, creating an elegant look to blend with the exterior. The seats are from a ’09 Impala, adjusted to fit and upholstered by Suncoast Creations in Foley, Alabama. The custom center console holds the controls for both the air suspension and Vintage Air along with a pair of cup holders, the Lokar shifter, and the Pioneer DEH-X6500BT head unit. It features MIX TRAX technology and club-style illumination with lights that pulse with the beat of the music. Dakota Digital instruments keep track of the high-performance motor.
The finishing touches were the Foose Fishtail rims, 18x 8s up front and 20x10s in the rear, wrapped in Dunlop Direzza DZ102 high-performance, summer rubber, 18s in front and 20s in the rear. The Lamborghini Blue paint is a three-stage color that combines silver, purple, and blue, along with six coats of clear, sprayed by Stripmasters, Inc., in Milton, Florida. The completed truck is a joy to drive and a regular on the show circuit. There is one special event that puts a smile on Kirk’s face, especially when he recalls the Blueberry Festival in Brewton, Alabama, 20 years ago. The truck, in its white with red paint job won first in its class. Twenty years later at the same show, the rejuvenated truck also won first in its class, but this time, it also took home best truck! Talk about getting better with age!
Inside the BuildYear/Make/Model: 1957 Chevy Stepside
Owner and City/State: Diana and Kirk Peterson; Niceville, Florida
Front Suspension: Heidts Mustang II front end, disc brakes, Eaton 3-inch drop springs, Shock Waves
Rear Suspension: Custom four-link, Shock Waves with Cadillac disc brakes
Engine: Corvette LT1 V-8 with factory heads, fuel injection and 25-pound injectors, Corvette electronic ignition, Sanderson powdercoated headers.
Transmission: 4L60e Automatic, 2200 Stall Speed, Lokar shifter
Rearend: Cadillac Allante / 3.73 rear, discs, custom four-link, Shock Waves
Shaved Stepside body with 4-inch top chop, suicide doors, custom rockers, rolled front pan, frenched headlights and LED slot taillights, third brake light in the rear cab wall, custom rear pan. Twin Peaks hood, smoothed, with rounded corners, floating grille painted to match, Stepside bed with oak slats, stainless-steel strips, billet gas cap, and smooth tailgate. Bodywork and paint by Stripmasters Inc., in Milton, Florida, using three-stage Lamborghini Blue.
Smoothed dash with Dakota Digital Gauges, Vintage Air, Impala seats, Billet Specialties wheel and ididit column, light gray leather upholstery and dark gray carpet by Suncoast Creations, Foley, Alabama
Audio: Pioneer stereo with 6x9 triaxial speakers.
WHEELS & TIRES:
Wheels: 18x8, 20x10; Foose Fishtail Rims
Tires: 225/40ZR18, 255/35ZR20; Direzza DZ102