Jeff Whitaker had the joyous hardship of marrying off a daughter this January. As any man with a family knows, a child’s wedding is one of life’s single greatest events–but it’s hell on the pocketbook. So perhaps you wedding veterans should sit down before you read this next part: Whitaker will be marrying off three more lovely daughters before 2009 comes to a close. And to help offset some of the cost, he’s putting his personal 1957 Chevy Black Widow clone up for sale.
This 57-year-old Annapolis, MD resident has spent the last 39 years in the automotive business. He started as a Chevy mechanic in 1970, became a service writer in 1973, and moved over to sales in 1974. Though Jeff has been selling cars ever since, five years ago he switched over to classic car sales and estimates that he’s sold close to 1,000 of them.
Because there are some cool perks with a job like his, Whitaker gets to drive his fair share of classic toys home. But it took an encounter with this Black Widow look-alike a couple of years ago for him to park one he owns in the driveway.
The original 1957 Black Widows are some of the most famous Chevys of all time. Only 10 to 12 were built by Chevy’s SEDCO skunkworks, with competitive racing in mind. Starting with the light and cheap 150 two-door sedan platform, SEDCO painted them black and white and gave them six-lug wheels and a host of race-related mods. Of course, the revolutionary, fuel-injected V-8s were what really set both NASCAR and Chevy’s competitors on their collective ear. Producing an official 283 horses, they were damn fast especially with Buck Baker at the wheel. The sanctioning body promptly outlawed fuel injection that year, but Baker went on to win the title anyway–with a carburetor. The fuelie Chevys had been exiled, but their legend was forever cemented.
Jeff found his Black Widow tribute in a private collection and immediately fell in love.
“It had been given a nice restoration before I got it,” Whitaker starts. “One of the things that really did it for me was the straight body panels and nice paint.”
After the purchase, he enjoyed it for about a year before the power bug hit. You won’t find a high-strung and moody 283 Fuelie under its hood; Jeff grabbed himself a rebuilt 355, loaded with 10:1 pistons and a Comp Cams Xtreme Energy solid lifter cam for that nice lumpy sound. Edelbrock aluminum heads and an Offenhauser aluminum intake with dual Carter four-barrels handle the intake charge. A hot MSD ignition adds the spark, and Thorley ceramic-coated headers show fumes the door. He estimates that the Widow is making around 375 horses. “I spent $13,000 on upgrading the powertrain. There are some nice restomods out there, but I wanted to create this car the way that the 1957 Chevys were running on the streets in the late 1950s and 1960s.”
A 1959 Corvette four-speed and Centerforce clutch system add to its street cred, while passing the power back to an Eaton posi and 3.55 gears. A trick four-wheel power disc brake system for a Cadillac Seville improves braking tremendously over the factory drum setup. Torq-Thrust rims and a two-inch drop complete the street fighter look.
He loves this car, but when his daughters broke the happy news, Whitaker knew what needed to be done: his Black Widow went up for sale at $48,990. “I’ve had it for two years and I was pretty much prepared to sell it and get a new toy. Now, the main difference is that I’ll be selling it and not getting a new toy for awhile!” Laughing, Jeff continues: “And my wife is elated as we only have a one-car garage!” But then he gets serious. “This is a high-end driver-type of car and my family has really enjoyed riding in it. But compared to the excitement your children have for their weddings, selling it is nothing. I hope whoever gets it will enjoy it as much as I have.”