Jerry Aiello, of Clinton Township, won first place in C & G Newspapers’ Summer of Cruising online car show contest for his 1957 Chevrolet  hot rod. The classic ’57 Chevy is highly customized with features  that Aiello added to up the cool factor and make it his own.

Jerry Aiello, of Clinton Township, won first place in C & G Newspapers’ Summer of Cruising online car show contest for his 1957 Chevrolet hot rod. The classic ’57 Chevy is highly customized with features that Aiello added to up the cool factor and make it his own.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Behind the Wheel: Summer of Cruising contest winner has crafted his dream car

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published November 14, 2018

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

All summer long, C & G Newspapers asked classic car owners to submit photos of their vehicles for our Summer of Cruising online car show contest, and this year, the top vote-getter was Clinton Township resident Jerry Aiello and his 1957 Chevrolet hot rod. 

It’s a car that Aiello, a semi-retired robotics engineer and instructor, has admired since he was a teen. 

“When I was 14 years old, in 1957, I rolled up to a then brand-new 1957 Chevy,” he said in an email interview. “I stopped next to it, then rode my bicycle all around it, admiring the stunning styling. … I had never seen a cooler-looking car. I said to myself, ‘I will have one of these!’”

Twenty-seven years later, in 1984, he bought his ’57 Chevy Bel Air and spent the next three decades customizing it to truly make it his own. He replaced the car’s stock engine with a 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine from a 1970 Chevy, and souped it up to increase the horsepower and torque. He also added a 4:11 positraction unit from a 1967 Corvette, 9.5:1 high-compression pistons, a ’67 Muncie 4-speed transmission and more. 

“It’s faster off the line than 99 percent of the other cars on the road,” Aiello said. “I built it to be that way.”

Aiello also has made a number of cosmetic changes to the bright-yellow hot rod in order to up its “cool” factor. He replaced the original taillights with more stylish 1959 Cadillac taillights, outfitted the shifter with a real 8-ball, personalized the speedometer, repainted the dashboard, installed new upholstery, and added “every chromed thing” he could find. 

The car, Aiello explained, is “far from blemish-free,” though, since it’s a driver, not a show car — which is why he was “stunned” that it won C & G’s Summer of Cruising contest.

“Many of the other cars in the gallery were show cars, and therefore much more ‘perfect’ than mine, so I had no expectation of winning, let alone first place,” he said. 

The ’57 Chevy garnered more than 200 votes, and Aiello has a few guesses as to why. 

“The reason it got so many votes is partly because it is the quintessential ’50s icon car, right up there next to Elvis and poodle skirts, and many people feel the same way about it that I do,” he said. 

He also has his family and friends to thank.

“My wife and I have a lot of friends that were kind enough to vote for it, and many of them voted every day,” he said. “I owe the win to them!”


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The Behind the Wheel series is taking a winter break, but we'll be back in the spring with more stories on local residents and their unique vehicles. Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history or a special meaning to you? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition.