Mark Jones’s SMOTY-winning FAT57 Chev

If there was ever a car that epitomised the transition from family hack to glory, it’s Mark Jones’s FAT57

Photographers: Peter Bateman, Kent Mears, Mark Bean

After watching Running on Empty, Mark and wife Jayne caught the car crafting bug, and in the early 90s they bought a rough ’57 Chev sedan. Mark rebuilt it with a big-block and tubs and put it on the road as a driver. This was FAT57 Generation 1, and it was a family affair.

As published in Street Machine Legends II

In the mid 90s, Mark started on Generation 2. This was more radical, with a suicide two-door conversion, raised floorplan and flat firewall. The motor was moved a few inches rearwards and the car’s flip front was redone with remote control. With lowered sills, an extended wheelbase and with the front panels stretched 20mm, FAT57 was true to its name.

The whole deal was covered in black/purple pearl duco and trimmed in cream tweed, but it was no trailer queen. Mark built a stout chassis, with airbags and a four-link. Through the bonnet was a blown 427, EFI-controlled on pump gas. It made 640hp at the treads and propelled the Chev down the quarter-mile in high 11s. This was revolutionary stuff for turn-of-the-millennium Australia.

The car scored Top 20 at Summernats 14, but Mark wanted more. Within a year, he’d stripped the car back and was ready for Generation 3. The big change was a new HOK Tangelo paintjob, while underneath he spent over 600 hours creating a super-smooth full bellypan.

The Chev also got a retrim in leather and a new audio system, and Mat Egan airbrushing on the side panels and rocker covers. Accolades included Top Judged at Summernats 15 and SMOTY.

After a year on the show scene, Mark shipped it Stateside to be auctioned by Barrett-Jackson. It failed to meet its reserve but was sold soon after, and a deal was done to return it to Australia so that Mark could convert it to left-hand drive. The driveline was replaced with a 502 Ramjet, backed by a 480LE… Generation 4!

Mark has lost track of the ’57 since, but he and his boys have kept busy, turning their passion into a business dubbed Fat57 Customs. And yes, there is a new FAT57 in the build!


Engine 427ci CHEV
Induction BDS 6/71 blower
Gearbox Turbo 400
Diff 9in
Rims Torq Thrust II
First published
December 2002