Chevrolet’s storied Bel Air is a pretty elite car when it comes to design influence and cultural significance. As one of the most easily recognized classics in the world, clean examples routinely fetch 6-figure prices. That being said, it takes strong will and a heavy wallet to grab a clean tri-five and dive head first into your own vision. And this awesome ‘55 drop-top is one of those rare visions that, despite being modernized in countless ways, retains the universal appeal which makes these cars so great. Featuring a smooth LS2 V8, a stiff Art Morrison chassis and a sweet interior by Steve Holcomb, this is the kind of car Bel Air owners tend to cite as “best”. If you’re in the market for a top notch tri-five, why waste your valuable time building a car? Walk right into our showroom, sign a few papers, and take home this fully sorted masterpiece!
The timeless look of 50s-era Chevys will never go out of style, and the most successful show cars are those which build on the universal appeal of their original design. The goal is to create a custom that’s as nice as possible without altering Chevrolet’s basic goodness. And in the case of this awesome Bel Air, that translated to a professional, frame-off restoration which features superb bodywork and 100% stock sheetmetal. That sheetmetal wears a glossy coat of Jet Black pigment, which adds a sinister twist to the car’s traditional 50s class. And, as hot rodders tend to do, that paint’s finish work was carried well beyond anything the factory could have imagined. At first glance, this old-school bowtie looks like a simple collector car that’s been well-preserved and fitted with a new set of wheels. But upon closer inspection, good gaps, great panel fit and a robust shine provide modern dynamics that original 50s luster simply can’t touch.
In a victorious attempt to appeal to a younger audience, Chevrolet gave the ’55 Bel Air a heavy dose of Ferrari-inspired styling that has become some of the most beloved ‘car art’ of the past 60 years. At the front of this custom, a smoothed bumper anchors a pristine grille between amber parking lamps and modern tri-bar headlights. Above that grille, a factory-fresh Chevrolet crest is centered below a new ‘jetbird’ hood ornament, which looks fantastic against the car’s glossy black paint. At the back of that hood, like-new glass rides inside fresh stainless trim, bright stainless wipers and a clean canvas roof. At the base of that glass, polished mirrors and traditional door handles accent sharp fender lines, color-keyed quarter spears and dent-free rocker trim. And at the back of those spears, Buick-style tail lights join a custom Center High Mount Stop Lamp in illuminating a second smoothed bumper and polished, square exhaust tips.
This spectacular double nickel drop-top is powered by a 6.0 liter LS2 V8 that combines road ready reliability with stout 10.9 to 1 compression and an impressive 400 horsepower. Built to tear up the street and wow show goers alike, that fully-sorted small block employs a sturdy aluminum casting, lightweight 243 heads, coil-near-plug ignition and aluminum, flat-top pistons to create sharp throttle response and immediate torque. GM’s familiar fuel rail covers detail Jet Black paint with modern Corvette scripts. The engine’s bland serpentine system has been exchanged for stylish March accessories, a chrome alternator and a chrome AC compressor. A modern throttle body is capped with a familiar Street & Performance air cleaner. There’s a polished aluminum radiator that’s secured in a polished radiator support. And modern power steering combines with ceramic coated headers, a polished brake booster and high quality Painless wiring to detail an otherwise purpose-built performer. As you would expect, the car’s smooth engine bay is an excellent mixture of glossy black paint and proven stainless hardware. The fresh motor fires up instantly and runs perfectly. And the sound of the LS2 growling through throaty MagnaFlow mufflers will send chills right down your spine. Trust me, with this small block’s sonorous roar and neck-snapping acceleration, you’ll want to bury the throttle every chance you get!
Park this stunning Bel Air on a lift and you’ll find solid, over-restored floors that have been bolted to a rigid Art Morrison Tri-5 GT Sport Chassis. Combining firsthand racing experience with almost 40 years of engineering expertise, Morrison Enterprises is the number one stop for any tri-five owner who wants to supplement classic Chevy looks with slot car handling. In the middle of that chassis, a proven 4L65E 4-speed makes easy work of anything the stout small block throws its way. Behind that transmission, a triangulated 4-bar suspension hangs adjustable Strange coil-overs beside a 9-inch Ford rear end that’s complete with Strange axles, a posi-traction differential and big, 3.70 gears. Opposite that 4-bar, tubular control arms hang two more adjustable Strange coil-overs beside modern power rack and pinion steering. The car’s handling is enhanced by large, Art Morison-installed sway bars. Stops are provided by polished, 4-piston Wilwood calipers, which squeeze large, drilled and slotted rotors. Exhaust is handled by aluminized, true-dual pipes, which are bent around beefy Magnaflow mufflers and square stainless tips. Grip comes courtesy of sticky 235/45ZR17 front and 275/40ZR18 rear Kumho Ecsta SPTs, which spin around polished Boyd Coddington wheels. And everything, from this double nickel’s new stainless fluid lines to its fresh stainless fuel tank, is fully-sorted and exceptionally well-done.
Inside the car, traditional 50s style is augmented with first class leather that was installed by Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors. The modern front bucket and rear bench seats are all-day comfortable, featuring supple hides that display no significant wrinkles. In front of those seats, a Jet Black dash hangs bowtie-stamped stainless behind Classic Instruments gauges, a modern Alpine CD player and Vintage Air climate controls. On the floor, fresh California carpet rides under large kick speakers, color-keyed floor mats and a custom console that’s detailed with two cup holders, a classy shifter and switches for Specialty power windows. In front of the driver, a polished and tilting steering column spins a small diameter wheel around modern foot pedals. At the sides of the passengers, two-tone door panels look great behind chrome handles, sculpted armrests and large quarter speakers. And behind the cockpit, a custom convertible boot snaps over a custom upholstered trunk.
A well-executed custom takes a while to fully absorb. Its features aren’t immediately apparent but, the longer you spend looking at it, the more you realize just how much work its creation entailed. From the ultra-clean LS2 to the comfy leather interior, every piece of this Chevy shows as though it was the priority of the build. If you’re in the market for a top notch version of one of America’s great automotive icons, don’t miss your chance to own this killer ’55 Chevy!