This draggin’ wagon makes retirement look good.
It’s hard to believe that Gene Esaly’s 1957 Chevy 210 used to be a dedicated drag racing vehicle. He used to watch it race at the historic Dragway of Magnolia outside of Canton, Ohio, until it was forced into an undignified retirement. Years later, Gene was able to rescue it, and with a lot of help from his friends, gave it a brand new lease on life.
Gene Esaly has been a hotrodder his whole life. It started with helping his dad work on the family’s Ford coupe and 1955 Chevy, continued through a collection of Camaros, and eventually Gene landed a job on the staging lanes at the aforementioned Dragway of Magnolia.
It takes a lot for a car to stand out to a guy like Gene, but this 1957 Chevy 210 had the right stuff. “It had been a race car its whole life,” Gene says, “I first saw it raced in the G/MP (Modified Production) class by a guy named Jerry Kimble.”
But the car fell on hard times. Parts of the engine were stolen, and the owner didn’t have enough money to rebuild it, so he sold it. Then it was bought and sold to a series of would-be rebuilders, eventually landing in Florida. Gene kept tabs on the car, waiting for resources to line up.
When the opportunity arose back in 2012, Gene bought the storied 210 and brought it back to Ohio. “I felt like it was time to build my dream car,” he says.
Gene’s idea was to retain a lot of the race-ready features of the car, but give it serious upgrades in the comfort and style departments. While he would have done a lot of the work himself, Gene suffered some setbacks of his own which extended the project over the next eight years.
“I had a couple of bouts with cancer,” Gene says, “but I’m blessed with a lot of wonderful friends who stepped up to help me out.” Among them were Bill Watkins and Jim Palosi, who teamed up on this 1969 Plymouth Barracuda fastback, which we featured back in 2012.
The 210 had suffered so much due to the pillaging of its engine, so Gene went to great lengths to return it to its proper might. The big 496 stroker block is topped with a Holley Pro Dominator tunnel ram intake, Trick Flow PowerPort® 320 cylinder heads, and three 2-barrel Holley 2300 carburetors, all fed by a custom-made scoop, fuel lines, and fuel tank.
The stainless steel headers, tubing, mufflers, and the exits in front of the rear wheels are all custom-made as well. The 210 makes about 705 horsepower and 685 ft.-lbs. of torque at 6,300 rpm.
Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a design theme. The door pillars, the exhaust cutouts, and the accents on the front fenders are all canted forward at the same angle, and that angle is 32 degrees. “With the three 2-barrel carbs on the engine, I just had this idea to carry that ‘3-2’ theme across the whole car,” Gene says.
The car also features shaved door handles, a fiberglass hood, belly pans, a custom flush third brake light, and one-piece side glass. With all the extra trim and styling accents, Gene’s 210 is mistaken for a Nomad all the time.
Gene Esaly’s 1957 Chevy 210 Fast Specs
- Front Suspension: Seamless “California” Mustang II package with QA1 double-adjustable coilover shocks
- Rear Suspension: 4-link with QA1 double-adjustable coilover shocks
- Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes
- Wheels and Tires: Billet Specialties Black Street Lite wheels (15″ x 6” front, 15″ x 14” rear), Hoosier Pro Street radial tires (15″ x 7.5″ front, 15” x 18.5″ rear)
Engine & Transmission
- Block: Chevy 496, machined for stroker kit, honed, and decked
- Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow PowerPort® 320, polished
- Reciprocating Assembly: Callies crankshaft, Eagle connecting rods, Ross pistons, Speed Pro piston rings; COMP Cams hydraulic camshaft, lifters, pushrods, valve springs, and rocker arms
- Air and Fuel: Holley Pro Dominator tunnel ram intake, three 2-barrel Holley 2300 carburetors, custom scoop, fuel lines, and tank
- Ignition: MSD distributor, 6AL ignition box, rev limiter, coil, and spark plug wires; Powermaster mini chrome starter
- Exhaust: Fully custom system with 2.25″ headers, 3″ stainless steel tubing, mufflers, and exits in front of rear wheels
- Transmission/Driveline: Hurst Pistol-Grip shifter, Borg Warner T-56 transmission, McLeod double-disc clutch, 9″ Ford rear end, Moser 40-spline axles
- Body Modifications: Door pillar angled to 32 degrees, shaved door handles, flush 3rd brake light, belly pans, fiberglass hood, one-piece side glass
- Paint: Candy Apple Red pearl with Molten Copper pinstripes
- Dash: Modified stock dash
- Seats: Acura bucket seats, ivory and buff leather upholstery