Anyone who follows our inventory pages probably knows all about the high five and six-figure Bel Airs we consistently sell. Sure, if you have the means, it’s nice to park one of those blue chip trophy winners in your garage. But what about buyers who want a tri-five that they, firstly, don’t have to mortgage the house for, and secondly, don’t have to worry about securing stanchions for? Fear not, RK Motors Charlotte has a car for them too! The beneficiary of a recent frame-off restoration, this slick Gypsy Red and Cameo Beige Bel Air is an awesome classic that can be enjoyed day in and day out for roughly HALF the price of a six-figure show queen. And with equal emphasis on both show and go, it combines a stout small block with top notch mechanical components to create one head turning hot rod that’s fully sorted and ready to hit the road!
The timeless look of Chevrolet’s tri-five Bel Air will never go out of style, and the best restorations are car’s that don’t mess with GM’s success. So, when you’re building your own, have faith in the factory and do as the builder of this stunning ’55 did: make your ride as nice as possible without altering the basic goodness of its original design. As you can tell, that translates to fresh paint over superbly prepared bodywork and 100% stock sheetmetal. That sheetmetal is covered in a Gypsy Red and Cameo Beige color combo that adds new flavor to Chevy’s traditional two-tone look. At first glance, that pigment presents a slightly tinted interpretation of GM’s old school Matador Red and India Ivory hue. But upon closer inspection, its appearance is MUCH more refined, affording the car’s smooth and crisp panels a modern dynamic that original 50s schemes just can’t match. The result is a ‘can’t miss’ classic that manages to retain a groovy 50s vibe while still looking fresh and contemporary.
In a victorious attempt to appeal to a younger audience, Chevrolet gave the ’55 Bel Air Ferrari-inspired detailing which has become some of the most beloved ‘car art’ of the past 60 years. At the front of this sedan, a fully optioned bumper reflects a pristine stainless grille, clear parking lamps and chrome-trimmed halogen headlights. At the top of that grille, a factory-fresh Chevrolet crest is centered below a new ‘jetbird’ hood ornament, which looks fantastic against the car’s subdued paint. At the back of that hood, smoked glass rides inside fresh stainless frames, bright electric wipers and stylish chrome mirrors. At the base of those mirrors, factory-optioned trim spears complement traditional GM door handles, dent-free rocker guards and pristine Bel Air quarter scripts. And at the back of the car, crystal clear tail lights frame a second Chevrolet crest, a second accessorized bumper and bright, stainless exhaust tips.
Pop this hot ’55’s rolled hood and you’ll find a dependable Chevrolet small block that produces roughly 300 horsepower. At the top of the clean 327, a polished air cleaner funnels wind into a coated Edelbrock 4-barrel. Below that carburetor, an aluminum intake centers an aftermarket distributor between Camel Hump heads, cast iron exhaust manifolds and proven AC Delco Packard TV R Suppression Cables. Below those cables, polished valve covers contrast well against Chevy Orange engine skin, Gypsy Red fenders and a Gloss Black radiator support. At the front of that skin, billet pulleys spin a polished alternator and polished AC compressor above modern power steering and a big electric pusher fan. And throughout this Chevy’s engine bay, not a detail was missed; with often overlooked items like polished breathers, a chrome master cylinder and a reproduction Delco battery all present and accounted for.
Structurally, the ’55 Chevrolet is an extremely versatile platform that can accept a wide variety of enhancements. And one look under this Bel Air provides a glimpse of how a few minor modifications can make a big difference. The car’s frame and floorpans have received new stainless hardware and new coats of finish that add both aesthetic appeal and all-weather durability. Behind the hot small block, a familiar Turbo-Hydramatic 350 easily torques what appears to be a rebuilt GM rear end. At the front of the car, a thick sway bar leads a 605 gearbox and retrofitted power disc brakes. At the back of the car, correct leaf springs and a second sway bar follow traditional drum brakes. Exhaust is handled by aluminized, true-dual pipes, which utilize Flowmaster dual-chamber mufflers to create an awesome chorus of sound. And grip is provided by 15-inch Cragar S/S wheels, which spin modern 225/70 Goodyear Eagle GT IIs.
The inside of this awesome tri-five is an excellent showcase of classic GM design. Two manual bench seats are covered in soft vinyl hides that feature exceptionally comfortable surfaces. Below those seats, fresh California Carpet anchors thick floor mats between textured Fisher sills. At the sides of that carpet, detailed door panels look great between painted frames and traditional chrome hardware. In front of those panels, a curvaceous dash hangs bowtie-stamped stainless around rebuilt telemetry, small ancillary gauges and a stealthy direct-fit radio. Above that dash, a classy headliner spans premium roof bows. In front of the driver, a ’58 Impala steering wheel laps an upgraded wiring harness and modern, tilting column. And behind the passengers, a carefully restored trunk stows many family accessories.
If you add up all the ingredients that make this Bel Air such a cool car, the final tally is much larger than our asking price. There are no shortcuts, no marginal parts and nothing that looks out of place on what is a uniformly high-quality build. And, thanks to its modern drivetrain, this is one classic that’ll be as reliable as it is handsome!