January 2015

Al’s 57

 Our classic car journey started in London Ontario Canada when my brother in-law (Tom) showed up at my mother in-laws in a Matador Red 1957 Bel Air hardtop.  It was a rust free California car with a power pack engine and a power glide transmission, a rare find at the time because rust free California cars were something that most car guys only dreamt of owning in Ontario.

 A couple of years later, my brother in-law was in the process of moving to the West Coast and the opportunity for us to buy the ‘57 presented itself, and we jumped at owning the car and bought it in the fall of 1974. My wife and I spent many hours detailing the ‘57 that winter and spent the warm weather months going to local drive-in movies and cruising the drag (Dundas Street) in London but always stored the car for the long Canadian winters.  In 1977, it was time for us to buy our first home and after a lot of back and forth, we decided to sell the Bel Air to raise the balance of the money for the down payment on our home.

 We’ve owned several collectible cars over the years but always talked about replacing our ’57. In 2012 while watching the Barrett Jackson car auction in Arizona, Mike Joy (TV commentator) was reporting on an Inca Silver ‘57 Bel Air hardtop that was coming up on stage and he commented that the Snodgrass Brothers out of Melbourne Florida had built the car.  He stated in his opinion, they were the best of the best at building high end original Tri Fives.  The successful bidder for the Inca Silver ‘57 hardtop was NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and we thought that Rick likely understood quality builds as good as anyone so that was another endorsement of Snodgrass for us.       

 That day, we got serious about replacing our hardtop so we searched the internet to see if we could find the Snodgrass Brothers website.  It didn’t take long to find their site, so we sent an email to get the ball rolling.  We received a response back within a day or so suggesting that we talk by phone to sort through all the details, it was during the conversation with Dave Snodgrass that we decided that a convertible would be a better long term investment so we started down the path of picking the options and color for our convertible.  We visited the Snodgrass facility to look over the donor car before the build got underway and we were very impressed with the whole experience, the brothers are honest hard working family folks that do what they say.

 Our car was delivered to our home in Texas in November of 2012 and we could not be happier with the quality of the build or the way it drives.   We took her to the Ecklers Nationals in Feb 2013 to have it judged and won 1st place as a Jr. in the trailer restored class scoring 988 out of 1000 point judging and also Best Engine.  We’ve used the judging sheets to find parts to improve our car and plan on having it re-judged this summer at the Ecklers Classic Show in Norman Oklahoma.

 The best part of owning both cars is meeting all the people at the local shows and car clubs in the Dallas area.

Allan & Donna Thomson
Colleyville, Texas