In September of 1956, Chevrolet dealerships got their first look at a sedan that would become an icon of design. At the time, the General Motors design team was based around noted chief Chevrolet engineer, Ed Cole. Mr. Cole orchestrated the aesthetic updates after the ’55 and ’56 models for many storied reasons. But, what if Mr. Cole had seen this roadster? One would love to know his reaction.
Scott McCardie has owned a lot of race cars, but this 1957 Chevy roadster is one of his favorites. “This roadster is my 21st race car,” he says, “I’ve owned roadsters, dragsters, and door cars. This one is all of them wrapped up in one great package. It’s a blast to drive.”
He enjoys it, because while in the driver’s seat, he doesn’t feel confined – like in a full-bodied car. He is sitting outside, like in a dragster, and yet, is surrounded by the body of a Top Sportsman-style door-slammer. “It is as consistent a car as any bracket racer could hope. The quality is second to none, and it’s a well-thought-out piece of machinery,” he said.
The car leaves straight and is easy to drive. I think it would go straight down a piece of bacon.- Scott McCardie
There is just one problem, he isn’t able to decipher who initially put this beautiful car together. “The mystery is, nobody knows who built it,” Scott says, “It’s crazy, but I’ve asked around, and it puzzles me. It’s a great car, that’s for sure.”
Scott is reasonably certain an independent fabricator from the Kansas City, Missouri, area is the talented gentleman who built the roadster. “I called the guy I bought it from, and he was going to make some phone calls for me.” Scott continued, “I never did hear back from him. He was a fabricator himself and modified the car with some unique features.”
The roadster features a Tim McAmis-built ’57 body that is altered to fit a roadster chassis. The doors open like a Top Sportsman car, making it easy to enter and exit. The chassis is NHRA-certified to a 7:50 e.t. The suspension includes Strange Engineering struts up front and four-link in the rear. American Racing Torque Thrust spindle-mount wheels are on the front, and the same style, albeit, 15×14 beadlock wheels are on the back.
Interior features include a Racepak dash and a hand-crafted shifter. “The dash is very unique. It goes up with the hinged windshield of the car, and I’ve never seen another car like that. The gear shifter is handmade from a piece of aluminum. Greg Sesti, a fabricator/machinist, was the previous owner, and he’s the one who crafted the shifter,” Scott stated.
The Driskell Racing, 632ci race engine is assembled with Isky Racing cam and lifters, T&D Machine shaft rockers, titanium valves, and a Callies crank and rods all added to the picture. Topping it off is an APD-built 1250 cfm gas carburetor. A Powerglide with a 9-inch converter puts the power to the driveshaft and fabricated rearend. Finally, Wilwood provides the stopping action. The best e.t. delivered by the roadster so far, is 4.86 at 145 mph on the 1/8-mile.
Scott was lucky enough to find the car just as he wanted it. “It is honestly, everything I wanted from the day I picked it up.” He continued, “I’ve fixed up so many cars that I spent a lot of time and money on. This one, I talked to the guy about buying it several times, and it was this way when I got it. I’ve looked at it and had it in the shop, and I don’t know what I would do to change anything on this car.
“Everything was already just as I wanted it. It’s weird to think, but everything works good and it runs solid. I liked the paint job already. I thought about re-fabricating and detailing some points on the car, but there is just nothing to do to improve upon, and that is so unusual for me.”
Once Scott got the roadster home, he carefully scrutinized the car to be sure it was ready to safely go down the dragstrip. He was a little leery of making that first pass. “It has such a unique wedge-shaped body. I know the fickle tendencies of a roadster, and I admit, I over-drove it at first. Later on, I burnt the tires off and then flogged the car. It stuck to the ground.”
“I’ve owned a lot of great Jerry Bickel high-end door cars, various dragsters, and every other type of car out there, and this thing impresses the crap out of me,” he continues, “If I had just trusted the car from the first moment down the track, I’d have been fine. This roadster is deadly consistent. I’ve made the mistake of dialing down at the end of the race day, and the car runs exactly what it did all day. I’ve left myself too much gap and lost because of it. The 60-foot times are identical nearly every pass.”
The roadster has never been raced with a throttle-stop in index competition. “It doesn’t have one. It has a starting line throttle enhancer, but no throttle stop. As far as I know, nobody has ever run it with a throttle stop. I guess most people want a throttle stop because they’re scared to run a roadster wide open, but I’ve never had that issue,” Scott described.
Scott loves driving roadsters, especially this one. “Being out in the open is the best. It’s just you and the tree. It’s a hard car for your opponents to judge at the finish line, but I have had more success in a door car than a dragster. The dragster is harder for me to judge. I’m more comfortable in a door car. Roadsters are the perfect in-between,” Scott quipped.
Scott’s plan is to stick with this car for a long time, as he is impressed by how well it runs. “It is hard to impress someone who has raced a lot.” He continued, “It works well. It’s just a nice-looking car, but it also serves a purpose.”
Scott finished by saying, “it may be my last car. It’s a unique one, and it’s a keeper. It just fits good. It drives well and goes fast enough for me. I’m just happy with it.”
Those are strong words for somebody who has owned so many cars during his racing career.