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When you call your rebuilt car “Blue Heaven,” AKA “Bad to the Blue,” you better have something special.
We all know how a restored car can go from sitting in a backyard to becoming a beautiful piece of automotive art, but it doesn’t happen by chance. In this case, it took a pair of master painters/artists like Tom and Mitch Kelly from Kelly & Sons Crazy Painters in southern California to take this 1957 Chevrolet and convert it into a highly-collectible one-of-a-kind showroom gem. When the Kellys finally complete this current project and unveil it at this year’s SEMA show, there will be more than just a few “oohs!” and “aahs!” along the way. There may be some outstanding reviews and maybe even a magazine cover in this classic vehicle’s immediate future.
The history behind this vehicle and Tom and Mitch’s role in the story goes back several years, Mitch Kelly explained. “This car was sitting right next to my house for the longest time. It belonged to my neighbor’s father. I was looking at it one day and I thought, hey—let’s buy this car and fix it up for SEMA. That way, when my dad and I are standing there at the PPG booth [Kelly’s main sponsor], it will give people something to look at and something we can talk about. My neighbor agreed to the sale, so we started working on it.”
With more than 200 hours of work into “Blue Heaven,” Tom and Mitch are thrilled about how the car will look when completed and ready for the SEMA floor. “It’s going to get some attention, that’s for sure,” Mitch said. “The plan is to keep it and show it for at least the next year. Unless someone makes me a crazy offer on the car, I want to keep it, because we’re so proud of it and the work that went into it.”
Some notable enhancements to his ’57 Chevy include Crazy Paint’s signature “surprise graphics,” which appear underneath the car’s hood on the engine firewall, Mitch explained. “When people see this car, they want to look at the engine,” Mitch said. “So, we’re giving them something new and different to look at when the hood’s up. It just adds a different look and is a conversation starter. We’re always searching for ways to make our cars stand out, and doing things like unexpected graphics is one way to achieve that.”
Here are the details of the build, explained by Mitch in a Reader’s Digest-style. “We used PPG Envirobase and their 280 primer, as well as their ECS-27 Black Envirobase sealer. The Envirobase is easy to apply and we’re adept at using it. The finished product is superior and I love this PPG blue.”
When Mitch took possession of the car and started breaking it down, he and his crew discovered something unique about their Chevy. “When it came back from sandblasting, it looked like nothing I’d ever seen. We quickly found out it has a very rare specialty racing frame. Back then, Chevrolet had to manufacture a few cars that could meet NASCAR’s requirements and make them available to the general public in addition to the racing community. So, we had a gem here and we didn’t even know it until we were into the build.”
Companies that Tom and Mitch Kelly want to thank for contributing their products and time to building their 1957 Chevy Blue Dream include Classic Performance Products in Anaheim , CA, that provided the A-arms, power steering brakes, gas tank and front suspension; American Racing for wheels, called the Burnout series; Quick Cut sanders distributed by All-American Tool Corp., in Orting, WA; SATA Spray Guns; Kaeser air compressors; sandpaper from Surf Prep; and waxes, polishes, and cleaners from Mothers Polish in Huntington Beach, CA. By collaborating with their sponsoring companies and using their best-of-the-best products, Tom and Mitch Kelly can build a vehicle like this amazing 1957 Chevy.
“Without our sponsors, we’d be left hanging. With their help and their top-tier products, we’re able to create an amazing vehicle,” Mitch said. “We scored with this build, because now we have a very unique finished product and something we’re anxious to show at SEMA.”
On the morning of SEMA’s opening day, (Tuesday, October 30) “Blue Heaven” will be sitting under a Covers Direct car cover at SATA’s booth (#10609), awaiting an unveiling that will take place between 10–11 a.m. At that same time, SATA will be displaying their new SATAjet 4000 B Camouflage spray guns, Mitch said. “No one is going to see this vehicle until we pull that cover off of it, so if you’re there, stop by and get the first look at this car.”
Tom and Mitch Kelly will both be on hand to display their artwork and sign posters at SEMA’s PPG booth (#24501) every day during the entire show, Kelly said. “Come see all of the PPG products we used on this beautiful classic car. It’s our SEMA surprise and we’re obviously very proud of it!”