Car projects can take days, weeks, or months—but most take place over years.

This ’57 Chevy 150 two-door sedan took over two decades to complete because there were other priorities.

Jerry Sutherland

Glen Watmough is the proud—and long-term owner of this tri-five Chevy classic. He bought it years ago but, he explained, “It went to sleep for twenty years because life—family and business got in the way”. Glen saw that hibernation as an asset because it gave him plenty of time to map out a game plan for the ’57 Chevy.

He called it a 70s version of a ’57 Chevy because it was painted deep maroon with thick gold metal flake with diamond tuft interior appointments. It was powered by a 350 small block Chevy V-8 mated to a 350 automatic. That was a typical layout for a ’57 Chevy done in the 70s, but Glen wanted more out of his car, so he put in 20 years thinking about what to do with the car.

Glen said the Chevy “Spent 2500 miles behind a tow truck thanks to numerous family and shop moves.”   but getting rid of it was never in the cards. He finally got to a point in life where he could handle the time and money required to take his car to the next level.

The first thing to go was the small block Chevy. Glen found a donor 2009 Corvette LS3 power train to make his ’57 wake up with a new 21st century vibe. This was a frame-off project, so Glen took the time to strengthen the frame because the new engine had a lot more horsepower to handle. He had to modify the firewall to fit the LS3, but the trade-off was better handling with the engine set back more. 

Things snowballed with this project. For example, Glen started using stainless steel bolts and soon he found himself with a massive bag full of specific bolts for a ’57 Chevy. He was happy with how they bagged and outlined what each bolt was, so Glen knew where to replace a factory hood bolt—for example with an upgraded replacement.

Glen also had a ’57 Chevy donor car to help him sort out replacement parts and learn where things fit in the process. He was also dedicated to detail when he disassembled the car, so when reassembly began, Glen was ahead of the curve. He wasn’t afraid to upgrade on details most people wouldn’t see—things like an aftermarket billet door striker that functions far better than the factory piece.

The electric windows work with the factory cranks because Glen ran a fine line between stock-looking and resto-mod throughout the process. He thought things like electric window buttons wouldn’t fit in with the philosophy behind a lower-end model like a 150.

Glen also replaced the factory steering wheel with a smaller version because he, “doesn’t need to crank on the wheel as hard with power steering”. The seats are rare high-back seats from a ’67 Chevelle so Glen said he takes heat from the Chevelle guys because the seats are so scarce.

Glen developed an air induction system for the Vette motor by running it to the heater system inlets above the headlights. He said he built it out of 4” stainless tubes and it works great. He also had custom engine covers built to hide the plumbing on the LS3–plus they reflect the ’57 Chevy two-tone theme. The two-tone is based on the legendary ’57 Chevy Black Widow NASCAR look, but Glen wanted something different, so he went a newer Vette red.  

The key to success was a good game plan and what Glen called “overwhelming aftermarket support for these cars”. 

Patience paid off for Glen because now he has a summer driver with plenty of road manners, a 70s rake and lots of power—a 20-year plan completed on a real-world schedule.         

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.