The Boyd Air came about during a typical breakfast sessions at Boyd’s favorite place to eat breakfast called The Restaurant Next To The white House. That’s where the order of the day is inevitably an egg-white vegetable omelet and perhaps some English muffins smeared with peanut butter. And in fact, it’s where my dad taught me how to play liars poker. Someone brought up, what if Chevrolet had been playing with the ’59 Impala convertible’s proportions two years earlier? In his usual manner, Boyd said, Draw it up.
Pretty soon, Chip Foose had some sketches of the concept, which turned out to be a sectioned and widened ’57 Chevy convertible. Of course, Boyd ‘s response was “build it and they will come”.
Sure enough, John Dianna, Publisher of Petersen’s Automotive Performance Group at the time, saw the concept and declared that if Boyd built it for the Hot Rod Power Tour, they’d put it on the cover of Hot Rod. There was, however, a slight time constraint. The cover of the May 1997 issue of Hot Rod had to be-shot in February 1997. It was by then November 1996.
Until that point, Boyd Air had been on a slow burner. The cowl section of a ’59 Impala convertible, which is eight inches wider than a ’57 Chevy, had been obtained, along with couple of ‘57 Chevy donor cars. But nothing really was happening until the decision was made to meet the deadline. Then it was dolly to the metal as Steve Greninger and Roy Schmidt hammered the steel over a Larry Sergejeff chassis. The hefty frame was built from 3×5 and 3×4- and 3×3-inch mild steel tubing varying in thickness from 1/8 -inch. ¼ -inch to a to ¼ -inch.
Roy had, of course, worked on CheZoom a couple of years earlier, so he knew what he was in for, but the timetable for this project was critical. The extensive bodywork, which comprises a combination of stock, reproduction and custom-fabricated panels, was assembled with only a full-size side rendering to work from and the flawless finish is a tribute to their craftsmanship.
To begin with, the Impala cowl was retained but the windshield was chopped 2-1/4 inches and, while the doors might look stock, they are in fact 4- 1/2 inches longer than originals. The front fenders are 31 I2 inches longer but five inches thinner, however, the rear fenders are thinner and shorter and the wheel wells on all four fenders were enlarged and pushed forward. The center section of the hood is stock but it was widened four inches on either side whereas the deck lid uses two inner ’57 Chevy frames spliced together to gain the width and then skinned anew. Incidentally, the original ’57 gun sights were replaced with machined aluminum billets.
Of course, the grille was likewise widened the requisite eight inches, as was the front bumper, which was also peaked and shaved of its Dag mars. Decorating the grille opening in true custom car fashion is a similarly widened and shaved chromed floating bar. It was decided to use no mesh behind the bar.
Both front and rear lights are stock ’57 Chevy, but that side trim is a combination of new-old-stock pieces and hand-formed parts mounted either side of a cleverly formed applique generated using a combination of paint and computer-cut chrome vinyl. The spacious interior, which was also designed by Chip in the flavor of a fifties Chevy, was fabricated in red leather by Gabe Lopez. The front seats were originally from a ’95 Camaro while the rear seat was a Complete fabrication. Other interior features include a modified GM tilt column Boyds Tri-Grip steering wheel and an instrument panel fitted with Boyds Classic Instruments.The wide, leather-clad transmission tunnel is home to a shortened Genie shifter and a Pioneer head unit hooked up to a Boyds by Orion Sound system.
Needless to say, Boyd Air was completed on schedule and was duly photographed in February 1997 for the cover of Hot Rod magazine for the May 1997 issue. Boyd Air then led the way in that year Hot Rod Power Tour.