The love for a first car is like no other. While you may not have had the greatest car on the block way back in the day, your first vehicle represented freedom, personalization, entertainment and maybe even relationships that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. For Marvin Meyer, it was more than just that, however. That’s because his first car, this now custom 1957 Bel Air 2-door hardtop, meant being further launched into an automotive passion that started early on and has lasted a lifetime!
Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher
Now, not all of us can be so lucky to pick up a classic Tri-Five as our first set of wheels, but don’t let this now exquisitely built ’57 fool you. Marvin’s classic Chevy has not always been so show-worthy. Having purchased it from his brother-in-law in “good condition” back in the early ’70s for just $1,000 after the car had been raced for a number of years at Bandimere Speedway, Marvin quickly found out at the ripe young age of 15 just what owning a suped-up classic car meant; plenty of up-keep, more than a fair share of “handsy” schoolmates (which inspired the stickers on the wing windows, which Marvin put on shortly after getting the car and has kept, even with all new glass) and ample opportunities to get into trouble. But all of this was worth it, as his Tri-Five was definitely one of the coolest, and probably the quickest car in the high school parking lot growing up.
With a passion for cars that rose from playing with Hot Wheels and slot cars as a kid, as well as watching his older brother work on his own projects growing up, Marvin threw himself into the car world full force as soon as he had the keys to his Bel Air. Over the years, he tweaked things here and there, doing minor improvements to the car as he drove it all through high school. But it wasn’t until just about ten years ago that the true customization of the Chevy began to snowball.
After finishing high school, Marvin retired the Bel Air from being his daily driver and went about life as most of us do; moving out of the parents’ house, establishing a career path, getting married and starting a family of his own. But he never lost sight of the possibilities that his Bel Air held and he vowed to hang onto the car as a family keepsake. So in 2004, after having been married and raising two children to their teens, Marvin began putting his ducks in order to turn his very first car into the Bel Air he had always envisioned.
With help from his brother Jim, Marvin first took on the task of revamping the suspension and completely upgrading the engine. From the factory, the car had come with a 283ci V-8, but when Marvin purchased the car, it was far from original. So with free-reign to do with it as he pleased without the stipulation of ridding the car of its original components, Marvin gave the go-ahead for upgrades like boring the now 350ci engine .30 over, adding an Edelbrock intake and heads, upgrading to a roller rocker camshaft from COMP Cams and beefing up the back end with a Magnaflow ceramic-coated H-pipe exhaust setup fed by Hooker headers. The ProCharger, which now sits prominently on top of the engine, came a number of years later as a birthday present from Marvin’s wife Kelly (yup, definitely a keeper). With its current setup, the car boasts just over 600rwhp and 505lb-ft of torque.
As far as the running gear and suspension go, the Bel Air now features a number of Jim Meyer Racing components, Air Ride Technology (RideTech) airbags, a narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend, also from Jim Meyer Racing, and 3.90 rearend gears. The car is planted firmly to the ground thanks to the gorgeous wheel/tire combo featuring Billet Specialties Stiletto wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber, with stopping power using a Baer / Hydroboost combination.
Since they already went as far as upgrading the running gear and powertrain, a full frame-off build ensued (which is why we refer to it as the “snowball” of mods). Next up were some subtle body modifications, paint and upholstery all being done in the same clean and classy combo. All the bodywork, which consisted of cutting and tucking the original bumpers, adding a Danchuk bar billet grille, sinking and covering the cowl vents, and even moving the headlights from the grille to the front fenders was taken care of by Flatliner Rod Shop in Brighton, Colorado.
The custom Sherwin Williams “Silvereen” paint scheme, which was also taken care of by Flatliner, was inspired by the greenish silver paint scheme the car accidentally got stuck with back in Marvin’s high school days. As it turns out, a bit too much metal flake was added to the desired 1970 Corvette Silver color Marvin had the car painted senior year of high school. But what started as a mistake grew on Marvin over the years and stuck, which means this unique greenish hue is just another element that carried over from Marvin’s first few years of owning the car, and it is one of the car’s most telling features paying homage to its past. And with a shine like that, it’s no wonder this is a gorgeous Meguiar’s sponsored ride.
Complimenting the exterior color is a custom Black and Jade-colored interior done by Auto Weave Upholstery, which features Ultra Leather seats with perforated inserts, leather door panels with the original exterior fin inserts incorporated into them, a similarly fashioned center console, leather-wrapped Billet Specialties Stiletto steering wheel and Auto Meter Custom Shop gauges. Inside the trunk, you’ll find matching upholstery adorned with the original hood ornament, which was leather wrapped and placed front and center on the rear trunk wall, as well as the original interior trim, which defines the seam between the Black and Jade leather.
Even though the build looks subtle and factory styled, hardly anything remains untouched on this car, which is what ultimately makes it the perfect Slam’d Mag ride. Be on the lookout at shows near you as Marvin takes his car to various shows and possibly SEMA in the near future if all goes well!
Front: 18×8.5-inch Billet Specialties Stiletto wheels wrapped in 245/45/ZR18 Nitto 550s
Rear: 20×10-inch Billet Specialties Stiletto wheels wrapped in 305/40/R20 Nitto 550s
Brakes: Baer/Hydroboost system with 14-inch Extreme rotors and 6-piston calipers
Front: Jim Meyer Racing 2-inch drop spindles, tubular A-arms, and sway bar; Air Ride Technology airbags
Rear: Air Ride Technology airbags, Jim Meyer Racing pan hard bar
Lowered 3 inches
Jim Meyer Racing narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.90 gears
Performed By: Marvin and Jim Meyer
Original bumpers cut and tucked to the body of the car
Danchuk Bar Billet grille
Sunk and covered cowl vents
Moved the headlights from the grille to the fenders behind the turn signal grilles
Original brightwork refinished by Stainless Trim Works of Wellington, CO
Custom Sherwin Williams Silvereen paint
Body work and paint completed by: Nick, owner of Flatliner Rod Shop in Brighton, CO and his crew
Two-tone Black and Jade Ultra leather front Mitsubishi buckets and custom rear seats
Two-tone Black and Jade Ultra leather door and side panels with original ’57 Bel Air fin inserts transformed into custom door inserts by Auto Weave of Denver, CO
Custom Ultra leather console with ’57 Bel Air fin inserts by Auto Weave
New glass from Fort Collins Glass
Auto Meter Custom gauges
Billet Specialties Stiletto steering wheel wrapped in Jade leather
B&M Bandit shifter
ididit tilt steering column
Electro World power windows and locks
Original hood ornament wrapped in leather and incorporated into the custom trunk
Original trim used in custom Black and Jade leather trunk
Classic Radio 9-disc CD player (soon to be updated to a Blu-Tooth system)
Bose 8-inch front and 6 and 9-inch rear speakers
Stereo system installed by Marvin Meyer
355ci Small Block Chevy bored 30 over
GM 700R4 Street Avenger 4-speed automatic transmission with 2800rpm stall
Polished aluminum Edelbrock RPM heads
COMP Cams roller rocker camshaft
Edelbrock RPM intake
Holley 650cfm carburator with blow thru by The Carb Shop
ProCharger F1 supercharger set for 8psi of boost
2 ½-inch Hooker headers
3-inch Magnaflow ceramic coated exhaust with H-pipe
617hp and 505lb-ft of torque
Engine polishing done by Wade Meyer (Marvin’s son) of Classic Trim LLC of Loveland, CO
Assembly Performed By: Jim Meyer
Special Thanks from the Owner:
Marvin would like to thank “My brother, Jim Meyer, the lead builder. Without him it would not have been built. My family, wife Kelly, daughter Sarah and son Wade. [Also] Wade, the owner of Nelsen Auto Tech in Fort Collins.”