David Strom, Jr.’s 1957 Chevrolet has it all: great looks, a killer stance, plenty of horsepower, and quite the story to go along with it.
As it often goes in the automotive hobby, hot rods and, in particular Chevy’s famed ‘Tri-Five’s’, have been a generational affair for the Texas family, and this very car is the summation of that for the Strom family.
David, who works as real estate site specialist for O’Reilly Auto Parts, is a second generation gearhead in a family that’s been consumed with cars during their lives, led by his father, David, Sr. and uncle Kenneth. Today, David, Sr. owns and operates Strom’s Hot Rods in Dickinson, Texas, in a unique old farm and feed supply building that looks the part right alongside the classic 1950’s machines it churns out. Naturally, David, Jr.’s son, Casey, inherited the family’s affluence for automobiles, and by his teenage years, he too was ready to build his own machine and go racing.
Casey, who worked at O’Reilly himself behind the parts counter, had done some racing behind the wheel of his grandfathers’ ’56 Chevy pickup, all the while saving up the money to build his own engine and car to compete alongside the elder members of the Strom family. As David, Jr. shares, “his favorite car was the ’57. He wanted to find one that had Patina paint to put his motor in and race with me and my dad, who has a ’55 that he races.”
The Stroms went on the prowl for a ’57, eventually stumbling upon a two-door with Patina paint — just the car Casey had envisioned.
“Such a car is very hard to find. They either have primer spots on them, they’re a four door, or they’ve already been restored,” David explains. “I stumble across this one a guy had in Central Texas who also had a ’56 Nomad. They weren’t advertised for sale — a buddy found them that was a Ford guy so he told us about the two cars. I show Casey and my dad and of course he was going crazy because it was the exact car he wanted. Both cars were in a barn and he wouldn’t split them up, therefore making the price too high for what we were trying to do.”
Sadly, just days after discovering the car and working to strike a deal, David’s life was changed forever — and cars took a backseat to the true priorities in life — when Casey’ perished in a tragic car accident at just 20 years of age.
“I knew then that I had to get this car and do to it what Casey wanted in his memory. My wife and I ended up buying the ’57 and my dad bought the Nomad,” David shares.
David tasked local chassis builder (and a customer of Casey’s at O’Reilly’s) Rick Stevens to handle the chassis work on the ’57 — a job that Stevens and his team knocked out in just a month’s time. “We dropped the car off at his shop and the next day the entire floors and firewall are gone and the front clip is sitting on the work bench,” he says with a laugh. “Four weeks later we picked the car up and brought it home to finish it. We ordered the backhalf from Art Morrison, and Rick and his guys built the rest. It’s still a stock-style front clip so it will ride and handle decent on the street.”
David, Jr. (left) with his late son, Casey, who was killed in a highway traffic accident at 20 years old.
David built the car in what he says is more or less a Drag Week-style combination, with all the fixings of a racecar but retaining the daily driver elements inside and out. Under the hood and underneath, it’s virtually a show car, and David says they keep it all super-clean. The paint and body work, interestingly, are still the product of Mother Nature, giving the car he most realistic of “worn” looks, and from nose to tail is all-original steel and glass windows — not an inch of fiberglass. The 25.3-spec chassis and backhalf are finished out with a fabricated 9-inch rear with a 4.56 gear and Strange Engineering 40-spline gun-drilled axles, Strange coilover shocks, Wilwood brakes with Weld V-Series wheels.
For power, David assembled a 360-inch small-block Chevy with an F-1R ProCharger that’s backed by a Rossler two-speed Turbo 400 and a Gear Vendors overdrive.
Inside, the car still sports all of the original creature comforts, from sun visors and cup holders to the stereo, cigarette lighter, dome lights, all of the exterior lights and switches, and even the horn, all nestled inside carbon fiber themed interior finish.
David has made a handful of laps with the car at the track, but because he intends to go no-time racing with it in Texas, he’s keeping the numbers close to the chest, but based on what we know, this could well be an eight-second player that can do grocery duty just as easily as it can shred up the 1/4-mile.
David was quick to thank a number of individuals who helped make his sons — and ultimately his — dream a reality, including Rick Stevens, Andy Parker who did the wiring, tuner Chase Driskell, Kyle Kirker, Matthew “Skinnyman” Mungall who did the headers and other fabrication work, Joe Ruffini, Heath Moore, Mr. Shine Elmer Smith, and Greg Graves.
“All these people deserve credit for helping, some did a lot, some did small things but they all helped. I have to give a special thanks to everyone at Stroms Street Rods for lending in a helping hand, especially my father. He worked on it day in and day out when I was at work and couldn’t be there. Also special thanks to my wife, she not only supports me, but works on the car as much as I do.”