By Emily Tubb/Monroe Journal
BECKER – Walter and Marie Crabtree are no strangers to antique car restoration, but when they decided to restore and convert a 1957 Chevy into a sofa for their son, they had their work cut out for them.
“There is no book on how to do this, so everything was a challenge,” Marie said.
The Crabtrees bought the rusted out Chevy at a junkyard in Denton, Texas while shopping for parts for another car restoration.
Once the couple was able to get the car transported to their home, it sat in the garage for nearly two years.
“It got worked on once in a while, but it was hard to find labor sometimes,” Marie said.
The first step was to get the car down to a workable state. After finding out that sandblasting would cause pitting, the couple had the car chemically dipped to remove rust and debris.
The next step was finding someone to do the bodywork.
“Our neighbors’ cousin has a body shop called Mike’s Body and Frame Shop in Iuka, so off the car went up there,” Marie said.
The day the Chevy came out of the body shop, not only were all the holes and cracks repaired, but it had been painted the original 1957 Matador DuPont paint red. The paint had to be mixed from the 1957 formula.
Once that step was done, the Crabtrees took the Chevy to Danny’s Upholstery Shop.
“He asked, ‘You want upholstery work done on half a car?’ He didn’t know what he was getting into, but he was up for the job,” Walter said.
The upholstery has a “V” in the center that represents the original “V” on the back of the trunk and is done in a Matador red fabric.
Finally, the Chevy sofa was ready for the chrome work and wiring to get the tail lights to work.
“When we were about finished we thought, ‘Why can’t we get the lights to work?’, so we got a conversion kit and ran it off the house current,” Marie said.
Finally, after more than two years, $3,500 in parts and labor and countless hours of work put in by Walter, the 1957 Matador Chevy sofa is complete and ready to be sent to their son, Dennis, in Dallas.
“It was fun, but don’t ask me to do it again,” Marie said.