Think back to your first car. If you had the ability to get your first car back, what would you change about it? I mean, chances are good there were things you wanted to change when you originally had it, right? While some folks can say that they’ve kept ownership of their first ride (or were able to purchase them back after being separated), Lindsay McLaughlin decided to stick with the specific year of manufacture, and focus more on getting something closer to what he always wanted.
It may not always be possible to go back and get the specific car that you cut your teeth on while learning to drive, but Lindsay McLaughlin is proof positive that you can still go back and make that first version of freedom into exactly what you wanted in the first place.
While the outside is definitely 1957 Chevrolet, the interior and under hood area has been upgraded with modern amenities and power.
Like many from his generation, when Lindsay acquired his first ride back then, it was a now highly-sought-after 1957-vintage Chevrolet. Of course, then, they were merely a means of transportation. Understandably so, Lindsay also didn’t necessarily have the wherewithal to go making a bunch of modifications to the car. But, this time around, when it came time to relive a few memories, Lindsay was more than ready.
Finding A Replacement
As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the car I wanted! – Lindsay McLaughlin
“I was looking at buying a 1957 Chevy, because that was my first car when I was 15-years-old. I always wanted to build another one,” he stated. Lindsay’s intent, means, and ability to do so, convened online via an ad for a dealership in Chicago, Illinois. It was love at first sight, “As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the car I wanted!”
The car had a lot of things going for it as far as Lindsay was concerned. It had been been restored approximately 15 years prior, and there was enough room to make modifications. He could make those changes reflect more to his liking without throwing away a lot of expensive work and materials as would be the case with a more recently restored project. One of the biggest pluses was the color. Lindsay instantly fell in love with the House of Kolor Lamborghini Blue. The color was classic enough to make the jump between the car’s original heritage and the updating that Lindsay had planned. And since it was in such good shape, he didn’t need to do any bodywork to the car.
Lindsay’s intent for the car was to make it drivable, or more correctly, a driver’s car. He explains that he wanted a car that’s fun to drive, not one that simply drives the occupants from one place to another. The first order of business in keeping with the theme and expectations was to upgrade the drivetrain to a more modern LS status. For that, a GM-built LS376/525 crate engine served quite nicely with the unheard-of-in-’57 horsepower rating of 525 ponies.
1957 Chevys were known for chrome, and Lindsay's car still has it, although some items have also been "freshened" up for a more modern feel without losing that vintage appeal.
Since original fuelie ‘57s are bringing a pretty penny right now, infusing the ’57 with a more modern version of high-pressure fuel supply should definitely elevate the value of the car, especially with the additional horsepower. Beyond that, a Tremec five-speed transmission resides directly behind the engine and gives Lindsay the opportunity to row through the gears at his own discretion.
Keen-eyed readers will note the one-piece front bumper used on Lindsay’s ride. These were used in place of the three-piece bumpers for cars heading to California and Canada. We’re uncertain if Lindsay’s ’57 came with them from the factory, or if the car has the “California” one-piece frame as well.
Other upgrades to the car were pretty much completed when Lindsay took ownership about two years ago. The chassis had already been converted over to C4 Corvette specs with an independent rear suspension fitted to the car’s underside. The only modification needed, was to put a 3.73 rear gear in place of the originals to help the heavy car out of the hole. With the addition of the Corvette chassis came benefits such as disc brakes on every corner, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering assembly.
Lighting has been updated for more safety - both front and rear.
Other modifications help bring the car into today’s standards, but also help keep with the car’s original design. While 1957 Chevys came from the factory with hubcaps, it didn’t take long for many of them to be upgraded with aftermarket wheels, the classic five-spoke being one of the most widely used designs. Lindsay kept with that cue, but also stepped up to today’s standards and increased the diameter of the rims to be more fitting with the style of the day. The 20-inch Foose-built “Legends” wheels (8 and 10-inch) are wrapped with Continental tires.
The classic five-spokes now stretch out over 20-inches and are wrapped with Continental radial tires. A set of drilled and slotted disc brakes reside immediately past the polished spokes.
Other upgrades are more in the name of safety than styling, such as the halogen bulbs under those oh-so-’57 eyebrows, and the additional lighting in the shape of the “V” on the trunk lid. Under hood, there’s a new Wilwood dual-reservoir, master cylinder that feeds stop fluid to each of those disc brakes. Other power additions include the windows, door locks, seats, and even the trunk lid. Additional power comes in the form of the Kenwood “flat-screen” audio that feeds a full house of 6×9-inch speakers.
One look at the interior of Lindsay’s ride and you can tell that it’s been updated since it left the factory. Creature comforts such as air conditioning by Vintage Air, upgraded instrumentation from Classic Instruments, and push-button starting will give that modern feel in any classic ride. Lindsay admits that the interior itself is getting dated, and he’s focusing on updating the skins inside the ’57 some time this year. The plan is to keep it the same color, but give it a much more modern design.
The interior has been updated, but is now almost 15-years-old. Lindsay intends on freshening up the inside more to his liking sometime this year.
Under the hood, modern is the main theme. The Fuel-Injection banners on the car’s flanks still hold true. But the means of doing so are much more than a regulated, timed leak like was the style of the 50s-vintage injection systems. The LS3 engine uses much of today’s modern technology to bring more performance, drivability and fuel mileage than ever before and with a push of a button, Lindsay’s ’57 is ready for action, no matter what the temperature, altitude, or barometric pressure. Additions like the Hedman headers and Flowmaster mufflers help keep efficiency high as the spent fumes are routed through the three-inch stainless exhaust and out behind the rear bumper.
If you were to look at the car’s current condition and the odometer, you may make the wrongful assumption that this is a trailer queen. While Lindsay intends on showing this car, he also took the time over the past couple of years to make sure that it drives as well as it shows. In fact, in describing that upgraded suspension, in Lindsay’s own words, “the undercarriage looks as good as the top side of the car; you could eat off of it.” The odometer only attests to how recently they completed the project, as they’ve only had opportunity to put just over 300 miles on it since completion. That’ll change though, now that the car is ready for the road.
Lindsay may never drive the new ’57 as a daily-driver. But he loves it like he did with the original car that sparked his driving career. This car likely received a fair bit more effort and care in making it more to his liking too. Perhaps, if he had the means, this may be just what he wanted way back when, he just had to wait a few more years to make it happen.