Colo. man’s 20-year car restoration a work of art

DJ Cordova, 32, been restoring this 1957 Ford since he was 12. Cordova and his father spent thousands of hours working on the car together, until his dad passed away. “We just always loved old cars, so I knew this one was cool,” Cordova said. Enlarge photo

RICHIE ANN ASHCRAFT, The Daily Sentinel/Associated

DJ Cordova, 32, been restoring this 1957 Ford since he was 12. Cordova and his father spent thousands of hours working on the car together, until his dad passed away. “We just always loved old cars, so I knew this one was cool,” Cordova said.

GRAND JUNCTION (AP) – It didn’t look like much to his uncles, but the rusty 1957 Ford 2-door custom whose decomposing tires were sunk in the mud looked like a showroom Ferrari to DJ Cordova.

The car was purchased brand new by Cordova’s great-grandfather. It got passed from uncle to uncle until it was finally left to rot in an empty lot. Where it wasn’t rusting, it was covered in house paint. Feral cats were using it for a home, and a toilet.

“They said if someone didn’t come get it, they were going to have it crushed,” Cordova said.

Cordova, then 12 years old, thought it was priceless. He went with his dad, Delmer, and dug the tires out of the mud. They took what was left of it home on a truck, then spend the next 20 years working together on restoring it.

First came new tires, new brakes, and a brand new engine.

Together, Cordova and his dad spent thousands of hours working on the car together, until his dad died. “We just always loved old cars, so I knew this one was cool,” Cordova said.

Last month, Cordova sanded the body down to the bare metal and added a top-coat to prevent rusting. Then he added metallic candy-apple red flames with white pinstriping. A custom dagger was hand-drawn by Junior Huff, son of rockabilly legend Bo Huff.

Cordova also designed a welded chain topped with brass knuckles for a gear shift.

Cordova loves the rockabilly style, which is reflected in both the music he listens to and his car’s design. Rockabilly is a combination of rock and country music made popular in the 1950s. It’s had a recent revival and has a thriving subculture whose followers attend concerts and car shows.

“We just like to bring back that lifestyle and the design, like the pinstriping, in cars,” Cordova said.

Cordova takes his car to a number of car shows each year.

Next, he plans on adding an air-ride system that will lower the car almost to the ground, but with a click of a button, the car will move into ride height.

Cordova works for Mesa County Partners. He drives the car to work nearly every day and the kids enjoy looking at it. He does have another car, but “I’d rather drive this,” he said.