57 Chevrolet Black Widow Ultimate – 1957 Chevy 150 Two-door Sedan – Black WidowGeorge Poteets ’57 Chevy reminds us of the early days of “iron on sand” factory performance
Chevrolet’s custom-built 57 race car known as the “Black Widow” is as iconic as it is rare. As for production numbers, there are none as the car never came off the production line and no known credible numbers exist. The first competitive appearance of the black and white fuel-injected 150 two-door sedan was at NASCAR’s National Speedweeks at Daytona in February 1957.
57 Chevrolet Black Widow Ultimate
George Poteet’s Black Widow is not an original, nor is it meant to be a faithful recreation but rather a tribute to the car and the idea of Chevrolet Performance. The modern features make this Black Widow the one with the most venomous bite! The ’57 Chevy 150 “post car” that was transformed into the much talked about Black Widow is truly a special car. Commissioned by George, Chris Sondles of Woody’s Hot Rodz in Bright, Indiana, the two-year project took inspiration from the artwork of Eric Brockmeyer. Before we get into this four-wheeled arachnid, a brief history lesson is in order.
Chevrolet 150 Black Widow Sedan Blueprints Free
In 1956, Vince Piggins, with the blessings of Ed Cole, then GM’s vice president and general manager, moved to Atlanta and established the Southern Engineering and Development Company (SEDCO), which gave birth to the Black Widow and its distinctive black and white color scheme. While these cars ran the innovative mechanical fuel injection (FI) atop the 283ci/283hp V-8, the reality was that the FI cars suffered from an underhood malady where the FI experienced false pressure readings and subsequent loss of power above 80 mph. A partial solution was achieved when the inner fenders were cut out. It has been reported that the FI-equipped cars ran only one NASCAR race in the top division and were then converted to a single 380 cfm four-barrel, although the cars continued to race with “Fuel Injection” badges. (It was on April 23, 1957 that NASCAR rewrote the rules, making the single four-barrel mandatory, making FI illegal.)
Another distinguishing Black Widow attribute was the use of six-lug hubs and wheels. The cars themselves came from Detroit and not the Atlanta factory because the one-piece frame was considered stronger and only available from the Detroit facility. It has been reported that the six-lug feature was added to the cars once at SEDCO. The six-clutch axle had larger, commercially-equipped brakes (’57 Chevy 1/2-ton pickup), making this an ideal, for the time, competition accessory.
The trunk of the factory Black Widows had the license plate on the deck lid along with the key lock and “V” logo, while the crossed flags and FI nameplates were on the rear quarter panels. On George’s Black Widow, the license plate is moved to the bumper (i.e. station wagon) and the “V” logo on the deck lid and crossed flags on the rear quarter panels were removed. On the front of the factory Black Widow was the “V” logo on the hood along with the double hood “rockets”. On George’s version, the OEM “V” logo was removed, as were the twin hood rockets.
The builders at Woody’s performed these and the many other body modifications. The top was “pancaked” 1-7/8 inches by Woody’s Adam Beck while the front fenders were extended 1-1/2 inches and the rear fins were pulled back 2 inches on the top. Due to the modifications to the front and rear fenders, both the headlights and taillights required modified frames and custom fittings. The front and rear bumpers/bonnets were extensively modified by Woody’s Matt Baldwin.
Tri Five Chevy 150
The iconic twin rockets found on a 57 hood were removed and replaced with new ones made by Clay Cook of C. Cook Enterprises (CCE) in Erlanger, Kentucky. Woody’s staff lowered these new rockets 3/4 inch from stock. These openings are decorative; working air intakes are built into the radiator core support.
To give the impression of a “wider” grille opening, every other vertical bar on the insert was removed. After the body was handled, PPG black and Ford Custard (a muted white) paint was applied by Sondles and Joe Shinliver of Woody’s. The exterior lacks the likes of mirrors, badges and the like but there is still plenty of bright work that was handled by Sherm’s Custom Plating in Sacramento, California. Danchuk supplied items such as door handles and other trim pieces.
Inside, there were plenty of sheet metal mods for the dashboard. In 1957, Chevy went away from the double dashed “hump” that the ’55-56 had. But at Woody’s, they thought it would be cool to bring it back. Not only was the hump added, but so was the Corvette’s “grab bar” (“oh sh*t bar,” or “panic bar,” or any number of other exclamations many a hot order has uttered while riding in the early Vettes.) Both humps were tilted forward in the cabin ever so slightly (3/4 inch) while the rest of the dash was smoothed over; note the lack of a glove box or radio or any dash mounted switches. The traditional, but modified, instrument panels are filled with Classic Instruments gauges with the “SEDCO” abbreviation on the 220-mph speedo along with the “Black Widow” logo also appearing on the 10,000 rpm tachometer. Heninger of Woody’s made Sherm’s chrome pedals, pedal levers and shifter and then sanded them to give a “machined” look. Bud Kocher of Specialty Automotive handled wiring throughout and based the project on a kit from American Autowire. The steering column is a ’57 that was “heated over” by Flaming River of Berea, Ohio, which attaches to a cut-down (15-inch) Dennis Crooks Quality Restorations (Poway, Calif.) steering wheel with a custom horn knob that features the Chevrolet logo and “One Fifty” script.
Being simple 150 Utility sedans, the Black Widows never had a rear seat or movable rear quarter windows, hence no bench, no window cranks. Woody’s Heninger did much of the dash and rear seat area which also has a modern NASCAR feel to it. Note the wheel wells and the use of DynaDeck from DynaMat on the floor. DynaDeck is an excellent floor covering because it serves to combat heat and sound through its built-in thermal and acoustic properties. Where carpets are used, they are from Auto Custom Carpets (Anniston, Alabama) in a black Daytona weave. The combination of black and silver cobbled cloth and vinyl is used to cover the ’57 four-door sedan bench used with custom door panels upholstered by Baldwin of Woody’s Custom Upholstery. The seat belts are vintage aircraft while the steel roll bar (painted satin black) is from Hilltop Performance in Harrison, Ohio.
Chevrolet Black Widow 57
The limited edition aluminum 427 was bolted together by Bischoof Engine Service (BES). Ignition is a PerTronix Flame Thrower system and custom headers by Woody’s own Matt Baldwin. The custom dual snorkel intake starts at the radiator core and goes back to the manufactured intake. A Be Cool aluminum radiator and mechanical fan take care of the cooling work.
The original Black Widow featured the latest innovation from Chevrolet Performance in Rochester mechanical FI. Today EFI is commonplace but back in the days when the carburettor was “King of the Performance Hill” FI was something special. On George’s ’57, a limited edition (#137 of 427 built) all-aluminum 427-inch big-block (510 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque) was built at Bischoof Engine Service in Guilford, Indiana, with twin Holley carbs; the “thirsty” V-8 gets its fuel from a 25-gallon Danchuk gas tank. The big aluminum V-8 looks “as cast” but its focal point for color rests squarely on the bright orange painted valve covers that come from the CNC machine at CCE. Another BES “eye-catching” feature built at Sondle’s request is the very cool staggered cross-frame intake that houses the twin Holly 450-cfm quad pipes.
The air cleaner package was built by Dane Heninger of Woody’s with the air coming via a pair of snorkels collecting in their O2 through intakes molded into the radiator core support. (Heninger is Sondle’s brother-in-law, guess that’s what they mean by keeping it in the family! Speaking of family, it was Sondle’s dad, Fred, who was instrumental in passing on the lifelong passion for Tri-Fives, which stemmed from his own passion for these cars.) Ignition comes from PerTronix in its Flame-Thrower distributor and coil system with custom headers by Baldwin of Woody’s while the exhaust system using Flowmaster Hush Power mufflers was welded up by Heninger. More Heninger craftsmanship can be seen in the custom shifter for the Tremec TKO-600 (five-speed). It’s bolted to the potent big-block via a McLeod Racing dual-disc flywheel/clutch package that transfers power to the Strange Engineering (Morton Grove, Ill.) 9-inch rear via a Cincinnati Driveline aluminum driveshaft.
Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) (Fife, Washington) Tri-Five chassis comes with a Strange Engineering (SE) 9-inch rear end equipped with 3.70 gears and a limited-slip differential, 31-spline axles, SE coilover shocks , Wilwood 12 -1/2-inch rotors and calipers, and a sway bar. The front suspension is based on a
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