The allure of speed transcends age, yet there exists no known protection against its pull. Some of us succumb to this fascination shortly after acquiring our driver’s licenses, while others are drawn in many years later. Then there are individuals like Kevin Smiglewski, who were raised in an environment of automotive enthusiasm, racing, and the inner workings of garages. Smiglewski’s journey into the world of automobiles was sparked by his father’s 1957 Chevy, which laid the foundation for his lifelong passion for cars. “I still recall riding in the ’57 back in 1977,” he reminisces. “I was only 6 years old.” It was a love that took root at first glance. At the age of 10, his father promised him the car, but it wasn’t until 33 years later that the elder Smiglewski was ready to pass on the torch.

001 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

The 1957 Chevy became a part of the Smiglewski family during the mid-’60s when his parents acquired it from a used car lot for the unbelievably low price of $500. They used it for several years before it transitioned into a competitive career. “My dad used to push that car to its limits in street races,” Smiglewski chuckles. “He’d engage the Muncie four-speed’s clutch and lay down burnouts along the entire block.” At one point, the car was even equipped with a HiPo 327ci small-block sourced from a Corvette, and it evidently held its ground on the challenging, rough Midwest roads.

036 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

As the original paint on the ’57 began to deteriorate, it was taken out of regular use and its body underwent a stripping process in preparation for a fresh coat. While it received some sanding and a touch of primer, the attention to its restoration stopped there. The busyness of everyday life took over, putting the car on hold, while a young Smiglewski watched, envisioning the day when he might finally call the Tri-Five his own. Years went by, accompanied by the changing seasons of Kansas City, which gradually took their toll on the car’s factory sheetmetal. The harsh grasp of winter left its marks, and a shattered window, courtesy of local miscreants, further contributed to the car’s deteriorating state.

Smiglewski’s determination never wavered. “I’d ask my dad about the car every five years,” he recounts. In 2014, his father finally relented, and the car was transported to Smiglewski’s home in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, as a 43rd birthday gift from father to son.

009 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

“It was in a state of disrepair when I got my hands on it,” Smiglewski chuckles, having wasted no time in stripping the car down to its bare metal. “I wanted to gauge the extent of the damage. It was in a pretty sorry state!” This prompted him to make a call. On the other end of the line was Michael McLin of the Restomod Store. “He was relatively young, but when I saw his work, I knew he was the one to build my car,” Smiglewski affirms.

Before the month had concluded, he delivered the car, placing his trust in the Independence, Missouri-based shop to deliver the 1957 he had yearned for over the course of three decades.

020 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

With the car undergoing thorough modifications, the original body was repaired with the introduction of new panels and placed onto an Art Morrison Enterprises frame. To enhance the driving experience, a modern independent front suspension, a four-link rear suspension, and four Strange Engineering coilovers were incorporated. A rack-and-pinion setup and an ididit steering column were chosen to provide smooth, responsive steering, departing from the original box and link configuration. The outdated four-wheel drum brakes were replaced by four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes, which gleam behind Boze Alloy wheels measuring 18×8 in the front and 20×10 in the rear.

Not inclined towards “all-show, no-go” classics, Smiglewski opted for an LS3 powerplant for his in-progress masterpiece. A Brian Tooley camshaft was introduced to elevate lift and duration in an otherwise stock long-block. A Top Street Performance intake directs air into the cylinders, while fuel injection is facilitated by an OEM Chevrolet system, offering the swift starts and seamless operation characteristic of modern vehicles. The engine is adorned with Eddie Motorsports and Kwik Performance components and is coupled with a Circle D converter and a 4L60E transmission.

014 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

The Restomod Store crafted a custom stainless exhaust system and revamped the interior with a mostly stock design. Painless wiring was carefully integrated, leading to Dakota Digital gauges and Vintage Air A/C controls. The interior upholstery was executed by Sali Hamami of the Restomod Store, featuring black onyx and red cloud leather accented by reproduction inserts. Following these phases, it was time for the car’s transformation through paint. The ’57 received a custom blend of Axalta Blue paint, meticulously cut, buffed, and polished, and was adorned with smoked glass from Auto City Classics, creating a pièce de résistance.

Upon the shop’s satisfaction with the completion and the final bolt being secured, Smiglewski’s phone finally rang. The moment he had anticipated since childhood had arrived; the car was finally ready. “It was flawless. I love how the blue and chrome elements stand out,” he remarks. Prepared to hit the road, he took the original title to the DMV for registration. “The staff at the DMV had never encountered anything like it,” he chuckles. “They didn’t know how to handle it, so they laminated the title and returned it!”

007 Pro Touring 1957 Chevy Bel Air

Now back at its rightful home, nestled within the family’s abode, the era of waiting is over, and the next generation of Smiglewskis never hesitate to request a ride. “Someday, it’ll belong to my son,” Smiglewski asserts. Now, it’s his son’s turn to wait.

Tech Check

Owner: Kevin Smiglewski, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Vehicle: 1957 Bel Air


  • Type: LS3 small-block
  • Displacement: 376 cubic inches
  • Bore: 4.065 inches
  • Stroke: 3.622 inches
  • Cylinder Heads: Stock LS3, Brian Tooley Racing valvesprings
  • Rotating Assembly: Stock
  • Camshaft: Brian Tooley Racing
  • Induction: Top Street Performance
  • Ignition: Stock, GM LS
  • Engine Management: Chevrolet ECU
  • Exhaust: Art Morrison Enterprises stainless LS headers, Restomod Store custom-fabricated exhaust system
  • Output (estimated): 550-plus horsepower
  • Ancillaries: Eddie Motorsports alternator, Kwik Performance accessory drive brackets
  • Built By: Chevrolet


  • Transmission: Chevrolet 4L60E, Circle D converter
  • Rear Axle: 9-inch housing, Strange axles, 3.73 gears


  • Frame: Art Morrison Enterprises
  • Steering: Rack-and-pinion, ididit column
  • Front Suspension: Art Morrison Enterprises, Strange Engineering coilovers
  • Rear Suspension: Art Morrison Enterprises, Strange Engineering coilovers
  • Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes (front and rear) and master cylinder

Wheels & Tires

  • Wheels: Boze Alloy 18×8 front, 20×10 rear
  • Tires: Nitto Invo 255/40 front, 295/35 rear


  • Upholstery: Black onyx/red cloud leather by Sali Hamami
  • Seats: Original, re-covered
  • Carpet: OE-type, gray
  • Shifter: Lokar Performance Products
  • Instrumentation: Dakota Digital
  • Wiring: Painless Performance


  • Paint: Axalta Blue, custom-mixed by Restomod Store
  • Hood: Stock
  • Grille: Stock