These ’57 Chevy passion projects are anything but ordinary auction lots
Two stunning 1957 Chevrolet Bel Airs at this week’s upcoming 2021 Barrett-Jackson’s auction in Arizona didn’t have far to go to access the auction block at WestWorld in Scottsdale, but the man who painstakingly restored them did. Literally and figuratively.
Patrick Pogrant, owner of Patrick’s Classy Cars in nearby Phoenix, is originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and he says that he and his bride, Jill, drove “straight from the altar” to Arizona in 1987—towing all of their belongings behind the 1969 Pontiac GTO convertible that he still owns. It was a leap of faith, one that is still paying dividends.
Patrick grew up helping out in his dad’s automotive shop, and it didn’t take long for him to realize what he wanted to do with his life: work on classic cars. Since Arizona is a hot spot for classic car restoration, Patrick and Jill wasted little time getting there after tying the knot. Patrick worked in a Phoenix shop for a year, and then decided to go out in his own; Patrick’s Classy Cars opened for business in November 1988. Carrying on his dad’s love for Chevrolet automobiles, Patrick specializes in 1955-to-mid-1960s Chevy convertibles. However, his “calling card” at Barrett-Jackson has always been Tri-Fives.
“Working on these cars—buying and selling them and keeping them on Planet Earth—is important,” Pogrant told Barrett-Jackson. “We crushed enough of these darn cars back in the ’70s and ’80s, so to me, it’s great to get them back on the road. My job is to make them the best they can possibly be for the next person.”
Patrick’s Classy Cars restores and builds both original and restomod Chevrolets, and one of each will cross the Barrett block this weekend.
Pogrant’s restomod, gloss-black 1957 custom convertible—packing a 430-horsepower LS3 engine with power reverse-opening hood—will be auctioned on Saturday, postponed from the event’s original January dates. “It has all of today’s technology,” Pogrant says. “An LS3, tilt and bucket seats, cupholders, and all that nice stuff. You can’t go wrong with that kind of car.”
In addition to the droptop’s powerplant, among its many upgrades are power steering, power windows, air conditioning, Dakota Digital VHX gauges, keyless entry, automatic trunk release, and a 7-inch touchscreen with built-in Bluetooth, CD/DVD, and USB. It rides on an Art Morrison GT sport chassis and has chrome front and rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and coilover shocks. The LS3 is connected to a four-speed automatic transmission with a polished-aluminum driveshaft and Jet Hot-coated dual exhaust. The interior features black Italian leather, black suede appointments, a leather-covered remote-controlled center console, and a polished tilt column with a customized Billet Specialty steering wheel.
First up on Friday, however, is Pogrant’s beautifully restored, Sierra Gold-painted ’57 Bel Air hardtop, which carries its original 283-cubic-inch V-8 Power Pack engine and automatic transmission. It also has front bumper guards, spinner hubcaps, and a tissue dispenser.
This car means more to Patrick than most, he says, because it was the last one that he and Jill purchased together, back in 2016. Originally intended to be used as a parts car, Patrick decided to restore the hardtop instead, promising Jill that he could have it painted and put back together in eight weeks. “It’s a simple car to do,” he remembers telling her. “Then we both got sick.”
Jill found out she had breast cancer; Patrick learned he had leukemia. “Everything fell apart,” he says. “The week of my bone marrow transplant, in November 2018, I lost her. I never got to say goodbye or anything. It was terrible. Because I never got to say goodbye, I decided that this year, once I was healthy enough to get back to work, I would bring that car to Barrett-Jackson in honor of her.”
Patrick says working on the Bel Air helped him heal. “The only thing I’ve ever had in my life besides my wife and children is my shop,” he says. “My shop means everything to me. This has been my baby—I fed it, nurtured it, raised it from infancy. I believe if I had stayed home and stayed on the couch and felt sorry for myself, I would have passed a long time ago.”
Something tells us that he had a lot of help from Jill.