Roger Ryan's 1957 Chevrolet

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Roger's Chevrolet was featured in Custom Rodder July 1961.
Roger's old custom as it appeared in 2006, after Jim Meyers had restored and modernized the car. Photo courtesy of Custom Rodder.

1957 Chevrolet owned by Roger Ryan of Omaha, Nebraska. In the winter of 1957 Roger and his buddy Jim went to the Triangle Body Shop in Benson to look at a new 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air that had "fallen off" a transporter that was on the way to deliver the car to a Chicago area dealer. Jim's nephew, Jim Meyers, tagged along with the two buddies. Larry Fritsch had bid on the car and bought it to rebuild and resell. Triangle had redone the rear of the car. Fins, trunk, and both quarter panels were all new and in a fresh coat of primer from the doors back. Roger told Larry he would take it the way it sat. Roger turned the car into a drag racer, and had Triangle paint it. After a few years of drag racing, Roger decided to change the car into a show car.

Roger took the car to Robert Martin in east Omaha. Bob worked out of a 3-car garage, with a dirt floor. He did custom work on nights and weekends, his full time job was with Warrell Jones' Body Shop. Bob installed canted quad 1958 Edsel headlights, a 1957 Buick grille, 1960 Chrysler taillights and a rolled rear pan. After the work was done, Warrell Jones shot it Titian Red, a 1950s Buick color. Roger had everything under the hood chrome-plated. The rearend, springs, brake drums, driveshaft and the "scavenger" pipes were chromed as well. When the build was completed, Roger took the car to Bob Keller for a Gold and White naugahyde interior.

Roger started showing the '57 in the early 1960s. He won the World Tour Championship four times, and dominated the show circuit in the Midwest for five years. In order to encourage other show car owners to attend, the '57 was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and was not allowed to compete.

In 1964 or 1965 the car was shown in Omaha, Nebraska.

The car carried "display only" status for one more year before Roger decided to sell it. A few short years later, Roger died of cancer.

The car went thru several owners before it ended up in Iowa, where it was repainted green. In the 1980s it returned to Omaha with a guy that simply wanted the all-chrome, low mileage 270-horse engine. He replaced the engine with a 350" stocker.

In 1998, Jim Meyers of Omaha, Nebraska set out to find the car. He knew one of the guys that owned it in the 1980s, and decided to give him a call. He told Jim that it might be in Chicago, owned by a RV dealer. He called around, after calling 5 dealers, the 6th one could tell Jim that he had seen it a year previous. Tired and run down in northern Chicago. Still drivable. Jim got the VIN number from a former owner, and called a friend who was the Sheriff in a small Illinois town. The Sheriff did a search for Jim. and found out that it was registered to a guy i Zion, Illinois. Jim called him, and found out that it was not for sale. After a year of calling, the guy in Zion decided to sell the car to Jim.

In 2007 the car was owned by Jim Meyers of Omaha, Nebraska.

Magazine Features and Appearances

Custom Rodder July 1961

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