Reader’s Ride: A 1957 Chevy 17 Years In The Making

In a quiet corner of Nebraska, a hidden gem emerges — a 1957 Chevy that would become the lifelong project of one dedicated enthusiast, Dean Settje. A project, born out of youthful admiration and the influence of older siblings, this ’57 Chevy is a tribute to decades of pent-up automotive passion. More than just metal and paint, it stands as a testament to the dreams, efforts, and persistence of its owner.

Over an astonishing period of nearly two decades, this once-overlooked car evolved into a profoundly personal masterpiece that captures the essence of Dean’s first love, at least in the realm of automobiles. It’s not just a car; it’s a story of dedication, nostalgia, and the realization of a dream long-held, but never forgotten.

1957 Chevy

Dean went for a custom-mixed paint consisting of deep red and copper pearl for his Chevy. Talk about a breathtaking color combination.

Falling in love with a car during those teenage and high school years is something a lot of automotive enthusiasts can relate to. Dean first fell in love with the 1957 body style in the 80s, while he was in high school. He had a few older brothers, and they had a constant rotation of cool cars. Being that it was the 80s, cool cars were still on dealer’s lots. Since he had older brothers who always had cool cars, catching the automotive itch was inevitable for Dean. However, not everyone can keep that spark of passion long enough to actually make that dream car a reality. Dean is definitely the exception, and was able to obtain his teenage dream in 2001, when he bought this 1957 Chevy.

1957 Chevy

Luckily enough for Dean, a car collector out in Raymond, Nebraska was having a retirement sale. In another stroke of good luck, the collector had the exact car that teenage Dean had fallen so madly in love with so many years ago.

Shortly after buying a car that needed a complete restoration, Dean started a 17-year-long rebuild that would completely change the car. After nearly two decades, there is a long list of mods done to the car. Starting with the engine, Dean swapped in a Chevrolet Performance 6.2L, supercharged engine. To accomodate the engine’s diet of boost, Dean is running a 9.1:1 compression ratio, perfect for a classic, pump-gas cruiser. Providing all that boost is a 1.9-liter positive-displacement supercharger consisting of four lobe, high twist rotors, designed to make boost as easily and efficiently as possible. Two important aspects of any build is air in (which he took care of with the supercharger) and air out, so Dean reached out to his buddies at J&L Automotive to custom make his headers.

1957 Chevy

Dean truly made his 1957 Chevy look like the body was built around the engine.

Sitting behind the engine is a Chevrolet Performance 4L85E transmission. There is a steel driveshaft that connects it all to a Currie limited-slip, 3.73-geared, nine-inch style rear end. To match his Currie diff, Dean installed Currie’s 31-spline axles to carry the torque to the wheels.

Keeping his ride both smooth and secure, Dean used a mixture of brands for the perfect suspension and stopping power combination. There are Classic Performance Products control arms, sway bar, 13-inch front, and 12-inch rear drilled and slotted rotors. He used a Total Cost Involved parallel four-link system to keep his rear end planted. He even went as far as having the factory frame boxed and reinforced for extra rigidity.

The last bit of exterior work consisted of some body work that serves as the cherry on top. Dean had all of the emblems, door locks, and wiper blades removed to add a more sleek look to the car. He also had the rear license plate recessed into the trunk. Adding Billet Specialties Dagger wheels to all four corners made for the perfect finishing touch.

1957 Chevy

All of those little details made for a big change in the appearance.

Moving onto the interior of this already outstanding build, we learn that Dean didn’t just care about going fast, he wanted to be both comfortable and fast. Tim McCartney at Mid States Auto Upholstery really hooked Dean up with the perfect interior. Tim used Summer Sand and Old Whiskey colored vinyl to achieve the perfect combination. The carpet was custom fitted using Mercedes carpeting. The dash is still the factory dash, just smoothed out, repainted, and fitted with Classic Instruments gauges.

1957 Chevy

As you can tell, not a single detail was missed in this restoration.

All those years  of youthful admiration and the influence of older siblings come to a head in this 1957 Chevy. More than just metal and paint, it stands as a testament to the dreams, efforts, and memories of Dean Settje. Over a period of nearly two decades, this once-overlooked car has evolved into a deeply personal masterpiece. It’s not just a car; it’s a story of dedication, nostalgia, and the realization of a dream long held but never forgotten.

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About the author

Caecey Killian

I’d rather spend a night in the garage than a night out on the town. With over 10 years of experience building cars and going fast, I am still just as excited to keep learning and keep going faster.
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