Over the past few years, many of the world’s finest Bel Air hardtops have graced our RK Motors Charlotte showroom. With that in mind, the "$100K Goodguys Nationals winner":http://www.rkmotorscharlotte.com/sales/inventory/sold#!/1957-Chevrolet-Bel-Air/134259 we sold last May is widely considered the nicest ’57 we''ve ever had… That is, until now. Combining a mirror-like body and fire breathing small block with a fresh, frame-off restoration, this award-winning Chevy is, without a doubt, one of the sweetest tri-fives on the planet. Forget all that stuff about concours correct, factory authentic snooze mobiles… The goal here was to create one of the BEST Bel Airs the hobby has ever seen. And, judging by our staff’s reaction, the builder’s mission was certainly accomplished. If you’re searching for a sizzling custom that features the absolute best of everything, you’ve found your next classic!
The essential part of building a jaw dropping show car is knowing exactly when to hold back. And, with an icon like Chevy’s ’57 Bel Air, even the most subtle touches go a long way. While this hardtop’s body received plenty of attention, that work was specifically aimed at creating the most perfect surface possible. And the result is panels that are amazingly flat, displaying nary a ripple or wave anywhere. As expected, those straight panels ensure fit and finish that’s significantly above ‘50s factory fodder. A glossy coat of Torch Red two-stage lends the car a sporty demeanor that most pastels simply can’t match. And naturally, that vivid pigment has been sanded, buffed and polished to a spectacular shine that’ll equal any classic on any AACA show field.
Most reimagined classics walk a fine line between trendy excess and half-hearted customization. Sadly, it’s very rare when one finds a car that combines perfect factory bling with clean, well-planned tweaks. This stunning Bel Air is one such instance, as its smooth profile hangs just the right amount of brightwork to present a fresh and attractive aesthetic. At the front of the car, a heavy, body-width bumper centers a straight stainless grille behind a pristine Chevrolet crest and two clear parking lamps. Above those lamps, ’57 Chevy-exclusive ‘spear bullets and spoons’ perfectly complement classic, hooded headlights. At the sides of those headlights, familiar tri-five stainless, which visually connects the car’s front fenders with its rear fins, flows past chrome mirrors and traditional GM door handles. Above those handles, mirrored trim combines with new wipers to frame a spotless, smoked greenhouse. And at the back of that glass, peaked fin caps lead the eye to ’57 Chevy tail lights, a second chrome bumper and a billet, bowtie-branded tag bracket.
Hoist this custom’s shaved hood you’ll find a 355 cubic inch, show-detailed V8 that mixes great sounds with excellent horsepower. At the top of that glare-inducing mill, a chrome air cleaner mixes wind from a reusable filter element with high octane fossils that are juiced through a braided fuel line and small Autogage pressure meter. Below that cleaner, a chrome-capped carburetor funnels a perfect air/fuel mixture into a big chrome intake that’s flanked by chromed and stylized valve covers. Behind those valve covers, an MSD Pro-Billet distributor sequences spark through loomed Taylor plug wires. Cooling is provided by a painted Griffin radiator that’s equipped with a polished tank, a bowtie-branded cap and two quick-spinning puller fans. Charging comes courtesy of a Billet Specialties V-Trac system, which spins a chrome alternator and polished AC compressor above attractive billet pulleys. And spent gases travel from a clean pair of coated shorty headers to large, aluminized exhaust pipes. Aesthetically, this sweet Chevy’s vivid engine bay displays a perfect combination of chrome surfacing and Torch Red pigment. And small items like polished breathers, a Lokar throttle linkage and trick, sleeved dipsticks make the car’s details as nice as its fundamentals.
To adapt a fitting, albeit overused expression: ‘custom is as custom does’. And when you throw this Bel Air on a lift, you’ll find a thoroughly massaged undercarriage that embodies the same spirit as the car’s smoothed body and tweaked engine. Combining adjustable QA1 shocks with pocketed rear springs, this hardtop’s boxed and smoothed chassis provides a comfortable, durable ride that’s spiced by improved handling. At the center of that Satin Black skeleton, a proven GM Turbo-Hydramatic 350 sends torque to a stout rear end that spins an open differential around friendly, 3.42 gears. At the front of that proven drivetrain, aesthetically pleasing power steering utilizes a Classic Performance Products gearbox to make quick work of tight spots and sharp turns. At the corners of the car, large, body-matched calipers, which milk fluid from a chrome brake booster, squeeze drilled and slotted rotors to supply short, fade-free stops. At the center of the floor, spent gases float from the aforementioned pipes to great-sounding Flowmaster mufflers. And all this mechanical goodness rolls on stunning Billet Specialties Legends, which spin aggressive 225/45ZR18 Nitto NT555 Extreme ZRs in front of 275/35ZR20 Nitto NT555 Extreme ZRs. Designed to display, this Chevy’s clean floors were expertly restored to perfectly match its super slick body. And everything, from the car’s painted fuel tank and electronic fuel pump to its fresh fluid lines and high torque mini starter unites to create one sharp and dependable cruiser.
As you probably know, we’ve watched a lot of customs roll through our doors. With that in mind, this Bel Air’s streamlined cockpit HAS to be one of the coolest interiors we’ve ever seen. Power front and fixed rear buckets don soft leather hides that display no significant wear. Between those seats, a contoured, full-length console hides LED courtesy lamps under Vintage Air climate controls, chrome power window switches and a modern JVC head unit. Above that console, a painted dash hangs clean Classic Instruments gauges over polished trim and leather-wrapped air conditioning hardware. At the sides of that dash, custom door panels anchor suede-trimmed armrests between polished trim, painted frames and polished, bowtie-branded sill plates. Inside those sills, fresh California carpet centers color-keyed floor mats under stylized foot pedals. Opposite that carpet, a suede headliner frames classy LED lighting between a small, chrome mirror and leather-wrapped package tray. In front of the driver, a polished and bowtie-branded steering wheel spins a half-wrapped rim around a chrome, tilting column. And behind the passengers, a custom upholstered trunk wraps plenty of cargo space in matching red leather.
The sale of this fanciful hardtop includes an original cowl tag, a stack of build receipts and a picture of its many awards.
With a detailed, frame-off restoration that would take a second mortgage to duplicate, this Bel Air rolls on the far side of amazing. It’s a highly desirable tri-five that’s been carefully restored with all of the right stuff to be one seriously cool cruiser. If you’re dreaming of the perfect blend of lavish 50s style and modern, reliable performance, you’ve found the ultimate classic!