Like many people who are passionate about cars, Cam Dedman knows his way around a spanner. However, rather than using his skills just to fix his own vehicle, Dedman decided to do something remarkable for a beloved family member. You see, unbeknown to the man’s grandfather, Fred Lamar, Dedman completely restored Lamar’s prized ’57 Chevy Bel Air. And the results of his work are astounding.
It’s worth noting, too, that the Chevy wasn’t just any old car. It had been treasured since 1958, in fact, when Lamar had received it as payment for completing a building project. And the vehicle had certainly been well used by Dedman’s grandparents. “They drove it every day until 1976,” Dedman explained in a 2018 interview with Inside Edition. “Their kids, my mom, rode in it.”
Unfortunately, by the ’70s, the car was a little worse for wear. But Lamar was resolute that he would bring the Chevy back to how it had appeared in its glory days. Ever since Dedman was young, in fact, he’d been telling his grandson that he would restore the vehicle; Lamar had hoped, too, that the the pair of them would fix it together.
However, more than 30 years after the Chevy had first been abandoned in Lamar’s garage in Louisville, Kentucky, the car was still very much past its best. And given that three decades of inactivity, it appeared unlikely that the restoration project would get off the starting blocks.
But while it may seem as though repairing the Chevy was nothing more than a distant pipe dream for Lamar, there was a reason why he had never renovated the car: any spare cash that Dedman’s grandfather had hanging around had gone towards his family instead. While speaking to Inside Edition, his grandson additionally revealed that Lamar had also been time-poor. “[Lamar] always put his family first, so he never had time to do [the restoration],” Dedman said.
So, Dedman decided that there was only one thing for it: he would fully restore the Chevy. And the generous grandson planned to reveal his work as a surprise gift for Lamar’s next birthday. “He’s never had anything that nice, and he really deserves it,” Dedman said by way of explanation to Inside Edition.
Dedman and Lamar are exceedingly close and have been so since Dedman was young. They’ve been united by a shared passion, too, with Lamar having attended all of Dedman’s childhood motocross races. And their bond has only strengthened over time; Dedman views his grandfather as his best buddy, in fact.
However, Dedman and Lamar aren’t the sole car fans of the family – far from it. Other members of the Kentucky clan are keen motorists, too, with Dedman’s father a particular enthusiast; he’s been known to attend a car show or two and even tinker with building hot rods on occasion.
Given that Dedman comes from such a pedigree, then, it’s unsurprising that he has some experience in fixing old motors. In his spare time, he has also renovated his father’s ’68 Dart – affectionately named Helen – which he had purchased two decades after his father had first sold it on.
But when it came to his grandfather’s Chevy, Dedman had to be much more secretive. And as he wanted the restoration work to be a complete surprise, he remained elusive when Lamar pushed him on when the two could begin to renovate the car together. According to Inside Edition, Dedman brushed Lamar off on such occasions by saying, “Grandpa, I’m really busy right now. We’ll get to it.”
Of course, keeping the restoration completely hushed up was made more difficult through the fact that the Chevy was stored at Lamar’s property. When Dedman retrieved the car, then, he told his grandfather that it needed to be in a different location if they were going to finally start renovating it. And once the vehicle was safely out of Lamar’s garage, Dedman started work on it in earnest in September 2016.
However, Dedman needed a considerable amount of cash to actually pull the restoration off. This he scraped together by saving money prior to the project; he also went so far as to sell on one of his own cars for the funds. In total, then, Dedman “put every bit of $20,000 in [the project], and that doesn’t include labor.”
Indeed, if labor costs had been factored into Dedman’s estimations, the total expenditure would have been far higher. The dedicated grandson toiled away on the Chevy for around four days every week, fitting it between his responsibilities as a landscaper and restorer. And in total, Dedman spent over a year fixing the car.
One of the reasons as to why the project was so labor-intensive was that Dedman was committed to restoring or replacing every single part of the car – from the interior right down to the frame. “I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right,” Dedman explained to Inside Edition. Indeed, once the vehicle was finished, the Kentucky man revealed in a 2017 Instagram post, there would be “not one piece of [it] that’s not new or restored.”
As part of the job, Dedman also decked the Chevy out in his grandfather’s preferred car shade: ruby red. The glossy paint was of a hue that he had created himself by combining various other colors, with Dedman adding on Instagram that the finished product “has a nice pearl to it in sunlight.” In addition, he enhanced the back panels of the vehicle with white stripes.
Of course, with a project of this size, Dedman couldn’t complete it entirely alone. In December 2017 – a mere month before he presented his grandpa with the car – he asked his connections on Facebook if they could supply him with various motor parts. He also welcomed donations from his peers to help him complete the worthwhile project.
In addition to seeking support on social media, Dedman thanked those who had helped pull off the plan. On Instagram he gave credit to “[his] brother,” who had assisted him with some last-minute work on the trim, as well as Kentucky-based Shane Lile for his time spent sprucing up the Chevy’s interior.
And one thing that can’t be doubted is Dedman’s dedication to the project. When he first embarked upon the renovation in 2016, he told his Facebook followers, “[I am] giving this one my all to make it as nice as I possibly can for my grandpa… There’s not going to be an inch skipped over on this car; [it’s] going to be show quality.”
Dedman seemingly stayed true to his goal, too, regardless of the money and time that it cost him. And he certainly put the hours in. Shortly before he revealed his restoration work to his grandpa, Dedman revealed on Instagram that he had upped his workload to seven days a week in order to both complete the project and keep on top of his other commitments.
What’s more, Dedman’s graft is perhaps even more impressive when his personal history is taken into account. A couple of years before the finished Chevy was unveiled, the Kentucky man had been involved in a car crash that had smashed two of his vertebrae – an injury for which he ultimately underwent intensive spinal surgery. That accident also curtailed his career as a firefighter.
However, while committing to restoring his grandfather’s Chevy may seem like it would have done more harm to Dedman than good, the work actually aided in his recovery. Indeed, according to a 2018 report by Today, the car enthusiast actually found the renovation somewhat therapeutic. “I had to get back to doing something I loved,” Dedman added of how he had felt after the accident.
Dedman tracked the process on social media, too, with friends and fans of his work able to follow the journey across Facebook and Instagram. Somewhat predictably, Dedman’s video of the reveal to his grandfather has proved immensely popular; to date, it has been watched more than 200,000 times on Facebook alone.
And once the car was unveiled, many on social media paid tribute to Dedman’s passion, dedication and vision. One Facebook commenter wrote, for example, “LOVE that car and its story.” Another praised Dedman himself by saying, “Your hard work has brought the car back to life.”
Meanwhile, others expressed wishes that they could undertake similar projects for their own loved ones. To that end, a Facebook commenter wrote to Dedman, “Really proud of the things you’re doing here! I wish I could do something like this for my dad or grandpa!” Another Instagram user felt a similar way, commenting on one of Dedman’s Chevy restoration snaps, “Good thing you did, man. Wish my grandfather was still here so I could do the same for him but with his old VW bus.”
Then there were the people who were were moved by Dedman’s devotion to his grandpa. On Facebook, one individual wrote of the Chevy renovation, “This is too sweet… it’s so great how much you value time with your grandpops.” A stranger also got in contact with the Kentucky native to say, “I do not know you, but [I] saw this story on Fox News. What an awesome present for your grandfather.”
Furthermore, fellow car enthusiasts appear to have been impressed by the incredibly high standard of Dedman’s work. Underneath one photo of the finished Chevy, a user commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better four-door in my life – fantastic creation.” Another fan added, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: that’s the best-looking ’57 on the planet.”
But although Dedman had received support from people on social media, he had yet to reveal his work to the individual whose opinion mattered most: his grandpa. Time eventually proved to be against him, too: despite having toiled hard, Dedman was unable to complete all of the finishing touches to the Chevy before Lamar’s 81st birthday.
Nevertheless, the Chevy looked good enough to enable Dedman to continue with his plan. And so on January 13, 2018 – a couple of days prior to Lamar turning 81 – the car restorer got his grandparents into his own vehicle. He then wrapped blindfolds around each of the pair before driving in such a manner that his relatives would have no idea where he was heading. Finally, Dedman transported Lamar and his wife to the site of the surprise.
Then, once the trio had arrived at the destination in question – Dedman’s sister’s home – the car enthusiast helped his grandparents out of the car. And after slipping his blindfold off, Lamar saw his newly restored ’57 Chevrolet for the first time. Parked out front, its cherry-red paint gleamed.
Lamar was so overwhelmed by the surprise, in fact, that his legs seemingly turned to jelly. While being supported by his grandson, he then held his head and covered his eyes before hugging Dedman and telling him, “Oh, man. I love you, buddy.”
Certainly, the gesture was appreciated; according to a 2018 story by ABC News, Lamar has said that the restored Chevy is the greatest gift he has ever been given. Indeed, the grandfather was so enamored with the vehicle, it’s been reported, that he announced he would even bed down for the night in it.
Meanwhile, in his interview with Inside Edition, Dedman revealed that he hadn’t anticipated just how bowled over Lamar would be with the car. The devoted grandson explained, “I didn’t expect [Lamar’s] reaction to be so dramatic. Honestly, he almost passed out. I had to hold him up. His legs gave out. [And] he said, ‘There’s no way that is my car.’”
Lamar wasn’t the only one to find the surprise an intense experience, though, as Dedman himself was also affected. “I was so emotional when I was pulling in. As soon as I saw his genuine reaction, it was all worth it,” the car restorer added to Today. And after Lamar had finally recovered his footing, Dedman continued, “Everything was just great.”
What’s more, Lamar had had no clue as to what would be awaiting him at the end of his birthday journey. Of the car, the grandfather told Today, “I just thought [Dedman] was not even working on it because he was running out of money.” Ultimately, though, Lamar was blown away by the young man’s dedication. “I just couldn’t believe it. He’s one special grandson, I’ll tell you,” the 81-year-old added.
And since Dedman showed the revamped Chevy to his grandpa, the last of the odd jobs that he hadn’t been able to complete prior to the reveal are now done and dusted. It will probably come as no surprise, then, to learn that Lamar has subsequently shown off the vehicle at a car show in Louisville.
In fact, Dedman’s grandpa even won an award at the October 2018 event, with the Chevy scooping him a trophy for “Best Paint.” And an Instagram user congratulated him on the win, writing, “Congratulations, Papa! The kid does some really good work. Making four-door hardtops cool again.”
But it’s not only the Chevy that the duo have brought to shows. At one event in June 2018, Dedman snapped a photo of his grandpa proudly eating one of the custom-baked ’57 Chevy cookies that they had also taken along for the ride. The sweet treat bore a remarkable resemblance to Lamar’s car, too.
Plus, if you’re in or around Louisville, there’s a good chance that you’ll see the grandfather and grandson team out for a spin in the souped-up old car – at least during the summer months. Dedman suggested as much in a 2018 post to Instagram, where he wrote, “We can’t wait for it to warm up so Papa and I can get [the Chevy] out and cruise!”
Then again, you may also spot Dedman working at his own car shop – a dream that he chose to make reality after having embarked on the Chevy project. “I always wanted to own my own hot rod shop,” Dedman told Today. “I think this was the final kick.” CamboBuilt Speed & Chassis, located in Brooks, Kentucky, offers specialist work on hot rods and race cars among other services.
Dedman also has plans to cultivate a love for all things motoring in his young son, Cainen. And there’s a nod to the Chevy in one particular scheme that the renovator had up his sleeve. “I’m planning on making a custom car seat [for Cainen] to match my grandpa’s car,” he said to Today. “I can’t wait.”