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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Local Legend: Flamed 1957 Chevy Bel Air rolls on after rollover wreck totals Tri-Five

Before Arnold Cherry wrecked his 1957 Chevy in 1983.
Hot rod heartbreak. The year was 1983 when high school hot rodder, Arnold Cherry of Pinson, Alabama, survived a flip in his newly restored 1957 Chevy Bel Air. The black paint was still fresh when a spur-of-the-moment street race on County Highway 75 went horribly wrong, demolishing Cherry's ’57 Chevy Bel Air. The challenger, who had a slight lead as they ripped passed the double nickel speed limit, blocked Cherry from passing, running him off the road. Cherry fought to control the finned Chevy as it veered across the loosely packed shoulder and down a roadside embankment. The shiny '57 Chevy was flattened as it rolled onto its roof beside a tree. "I got out with just one cut on my arm," Cherry said. "The '57 wasn't so lucky."

Aftermath of Arnold Cherry's 1957 Chevy after he rolled it during a street race.
Scars and cars
  A scar on Cherry's elbow is a lasting reminder of bygone days of high school and life in the fast lane with a '57 Chevy. "My wrecked Chevrolet was stripped of any usable parts," said Cherry. The crumpled remains were sold to a scrap yard. Cherry documented his crushed Chevy with lots of photographs. He even had a bit of fun with the Chevy before he had it hauled away. Cherry cut the roof off and made his totaled ’57 Chevy a convertible. He even drove the sagging Chevrolet around his yard. 
Arnold Cherry clowns around in his wrecked 1957 Chevy in ’83.
Every body panel on the 1957 Chevy was warped or damaged in the rollover wreck.
Cherry has a collection of photos of his totaled 1957 Chevy. 
Someone would restore this ’57 Chevy today. In 1983 it was junked.
Remember this: Street racing can kill people and beautiful 1957 Chevys. I’ve been lucky to avoid street racing disaster, Cherry was lucky to be alive.
Cherry cut the ’57 Chevy's roof off to make it a convertible before he sold it for scrap back in 1983.
BEFORE: 1957 Chevy #2 in 1983. Cherry bought another ’57 to restore to replace his wrecked one. He used dozens of parts from the wrecked ’57.

AFTER: 1957 Chevy #2 in 2010.
1957 Chevy, local legend
  Cherry was undaunted in his quest to own another ’57 Chevy while in high school. Calm, cool and collected, Cherry became his small town's ‘Fonzie.’ A local hot rod legend that cheated death and rebuilt a car nearly from scratch. Cherry immediately went to work on another 2-door, hardtop, 1957 Chevrolet. He added custom touches to his second ’57 beyond the swivel seats, chrome wheels and gauges. A toothy grille, side pipes and purple flames that seemed to disappear and reappear under the mercury vapor lights during local parking lot cruising. Cherry restored his second ’57 Chevy and hit the streets again. He drove his ’57 Chevy as a daily driver for many years after high school. Cherry cruised in it and could be found ripping up the same highway, that flipped his first ’57 Chevy, on occasion.
  Cherry, 45, still owns that second 1957 Chevy he built in high school. The years and the driver have been kinder to this ’57 Chevy. Small towns everywhere including Pinson, Alabama wouldn’t be the same without legends like Arnold Cherry and his black and flamed ’57 Chevy hammering through the gears. 
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Swivel seats and custom steering wheel are from Cherry's original ’57. 
Pinson, Alabama's Arnold Cherry poses with his 1957 Chevrolet at a 2010 car show. 
Cherry used the asphalt-scarred chrome spears from his wrecked ’57 Chevy on the hood of his second chance ’57.
Cherry added a custom grille, side pipes
Arnold Cherry has been driving 1957 Chevys since 1983.
Send your photos, tips and stories to junkyardlife
Email junkyardbull@gmail.com