1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
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Many enthusiasts agree that the 1955 Chevrolet was a revolutionary car and some things never go out of style, particularly 1955-57 Chevrolets. They are even more popular today than they were when they were new, and both restored and modified “shoeboxes” earn everybody's respect and admiration at shows. The best ones are those that allow the original goodness of these cars to shine through, while subtly updating them with modern performance and conveniences. This 1955 Chevy 2-door is such a car, with a very stock looking body, beautiful custom leather interior, and a powerful 350 small block under the hood. If this isn't the ideal cross-country Power Tour candidate, I can't imagine many that would be better.
Alright, so the bright orange metallic wasn't on the 1955 Chevy color chart, but you can't argue that it doesn't look right on the 2-door post coupe body. This car comes to us from California, where it's sunny more than most states and where you would expect to find something this cool with this hot of a color scheme. This one was originally color code 682, but the dramatic contrast between the Arancio Orange and Sahara Pearl Tan is pure 1950's California cool! These cars just lend themselves to the two-tone paint treatment thanks to the cool body trim and contoured quarter panels. The bodywork is very good all around on this car, with straight panels, good gaps, and doors that snap closed with precision. There's a lot of pearl in that tan paint too, so it seems to glow from within, especially when parked in the sunlight. Nothing has been shaved, chopped, channeled, or frenched, which is always the smart choice on these cars. Instead, the builder allows the original design to speak for itself. Thanks to its exceptionally nice finish quality, this car stands apart simply by being beautifully executed rather than radically altered.
The stock approach was used on all the trim as well. The original grille and bumpers have been restored to original condition, and the cool window stainless, as well as the trim that separates the two colors, has been straightened and buffed to new condition. Many people think the 55 is the best looking of the shoebox Chevys, and that's because the original designers kept it simple and let the trim do the talking. New tinted glass has been installed throughout and all the lenses and emblems are new.
Details remain crisp, including the raised stainless molding along the rear quarters, which often gets rounded off during the block-sanding phase. After hours and hours of work on the body itself, only then did the bright orange paint go on. Deep and rich, and with just a hint of pearl in the tan topcoat, the finish looks as good up close and in person as it does in photos.
Since this is the car that started it all, you know there can be only one thing under the hood: a small block Chevy V8. Nicely finished with a combination of stock and custom features, it looks right at home in the 55's engine bay. The block and heads have all been bathed in Chevy Orange paint as the General intended. Up top, there's a Magneti Marelli 4-barrel carburetor managing the fuel, along with a chrome open-element K&N air cleaner. A matching set of aluminum valve covers add some flash, along with a polished intake manifold, polished aluminum water pump, stainless steel front core support dress up pieces, chrome alternator, and power steering pump. (Note that it's now a dual master cylinder for safety reasons). Other items, such as the Jet Hot Coated headers, billet radiator, and over flow catch add to this beautiful engine bay. The orange firewall and inner fenders is a perfect backdrop for the bright mechanical bits, and new wiring throughout ensures reliability. Like almost any small block Chevy, it fires up easily and runs happily at any speed with a crisp burble from the dual exhaust system. If you're into driving your car, this is the engine you want.
And there's just no question that this car was built to drive. The chassis is blacked out, but not so over-detailed that you're afraid to go out and get it dirty on the road. An automatic transmission handles the gear changes, while the original rear hangs on leaf springs. The stock front suspension has been rebuilt using dropped spindles to get just the right hot rod rake, and disc brakes have been added. Floors are solid and have been given a low-maintenance finish so that you don't have to crawl under there and wipe it down every time you drive it. A true dual exhaust system features Flow Master mufflers that sound great, and a new gas tank has been installed out back. 15-inch American Racing wheels do an awfully good impersonation of vintage Cragar Mags, and wear 225/60/R15 front and 225/60/R15 rear BFGoodrich T/A radials.
The interior is nicely finished, and like the engine, combines the best of the original design with modern updates. That gorgeous twin-pod dashboard has been restored, including custom VDO gauges, and that beautiful billet trim band that runs from end to end. A painted tilt column has been installed and topped with a custom billet steering wheel with leather on the outer edge. The original bench seat is long gone, replaced by a custom bench seat with very comfortable low-back buckets separated by a custom center console. The upholstery is comfortable soft leather look alike, not sticky vinyl or sweaty leather, so this car is ready for summer. New carpets, a fresh headliner, and custom made door panels finish off a perfectly balanced interior. Other details include bow-tie logo floor mats, a modern Blaupunkt AM/FM/CD radio in the custom lower center console. The power window switches are located on the side of the console, so there not out in the open & noticeable. Seat belts have been installed, and all the knobs and handles are custom billet pieces as well. The trunk has been finished to match, with tan carpet and a bow tie pattern on the rear panel that ties in with the interior….job well done!
One thing we've learned here at Custom Classics over the years is that a car doesn't have to be exotic or expensive to be cool. In fact, there's a lot to be said for an honest car that delivers simple fun without the worry of something expensive going wrong. This '55 Chevrolet Bel Air is the embodiment of that attitude. With a rugged and simple drivetrain, beautiful styling, and a nicely custom finished interior, it's a car that you can simply get in, turn the key, and hit the road without a thought. Don't worry about figuring out how to tune fuel injection, forget adjustable suspensions, and never get stuck in the rain. Honest, fun, well-built cars like this are the cornerstone of the hot rodding hobby, and this one is nicer than most. Give us a call today!