Frame Off Restored Bel Air 427/450HP Muncie 4 Speed A/C
Sometimes the best solutions are obvious. The fellow who built this car had in one corner of his garage a fairly straight, but tired, 1962 Chevy Bel Air coupe and in the other corner, a big block Chevy V8 without a home. Well, the answer was clear, and the result is this stunning black-on-red Bel Air with a thundering 454 under the hood. Add in conveniences like A/C, power steering, 4-wheel disc brakes, and a brilliantly detailed chassis, and you get one of the most understated, yet potent cars we've ever featured.
Classic black never goes out of style, and on these early '60s Chevys, it's just plain elegant. The bodies were beautifully styled, and the excesses of the 1950s were clearly behind them as the stylists brought out the all-new Chevrolets. The canted greenhouse works with the angled relief lines along the sides of the body to make the car look like it's moving forward, even on stock vehicles that don't have that classic hot rod rake like this one does. This one was taken down to bare metal and placed on a rotisserie for the rebuild, and it appears that it was a very solid, clean car to begin with. But since the intent was to paint it in its original code 900 Tuxedo Black, I'm sure the guys working on it realized that merely clean wasn't good enough. Body gaps had to be precise, the panels, including those massive rear quarters, have to be arrow-straight, and the car has to fit together better than it did when it was new. Bit by bit, it came together, and as each section of the car received its final coat of inky black paint, it was rubbed and buffed to a mirror-like shine. Upon final assembly, the entire car was double-checked for straightness, gaps were adjusted, and it was given a final once-over with the buffer. Look at the photos again—there's no orange peel or waviness in that paint, and the effect is jaw-dropping. This one stands out.
Most cars like this get dressed up as SS clones, but the builder wisely decided to let this one stand on its own. That means simple Bel Air badges and trim without the SS flash, and it's limited to a simple strip of stainless running from end to end. The bumpers have been professionally refinished to show standards, and the grille is excellent. Since this isn't an Impala, there are only two tail lights per side instead of three, although the Chevrolet emblems front and rear are the same. Subtle 427 crossed flag emblems have been added on the front fenders, and you can't blame a guy for advertising—there are no numbers that resonate louder with car guys than 4-2-7.
In reality, those emblems are kind of understating the situation here—what lives under the hood is actually a 454 cubic inch big block that makes more than 450 horsepower. Fully dressed for show—because there was no intent to disguise it as a stock piece—the engine bay is as brilliant as the body is subtle. Sporting a trio of two-barrel carburetors from Demon, it does an awfully good impersonation of a Corvette L72 427/435. The air cleaner is an oval open element piece, but sports a set of factory-type decals spelling out 427 Turbo Jet with 460 horsepower. The block and heads are Chevy Orange, which stands out in the black engine bay, while the accessories have all been chrome plated or polished and spin on a billet serpentine belt drive system. A massive polished aluminum radiator lives up front and is cooled by a mechanical fan in a polished shroud. Power steering, power brakes with a dual master cylinder, and A/C are all part of the package. Wiring and plumbing has been neatly arranged to reduce clutter, while little details like the original bottle of washer fluid on the radiator cradle will make you smile. Massive headers by Sanderson handle the exhaust, and allow the big block to breathe easily.
There aren't many transmissions that can stand up to the kind of power a big block cranks out, but the Muncie 4-speed in this car is one of them. The frame, in a brilliant move, has been painted silver, which really pops against the black underbody, and provides the perfect background for the highly detailed suspension. The suspension appears to be original style, but using dropped spindles up front for that awesome stance, and disc brakes have been added at all four corners. The rear suspension uses coil springs, control arms, and a Panhard rod to locate the axle, for a big improvement in ride and handling over the primitive leaf springs that were in use in 1962. The exhaust system looks like it follows the original specifications, although it now uses massive Flowmaster mufflers for a great sound that gives the 427 an authoritative voice—when you turn the key, watch the heads snap towards the sound. A new gas tank has been tucked up behind the axle, and all the lines feeding the engine are, of course, brand new. Rolling stock consists of perfectly proportioned Billet Specialties hoops wearing 235/50/17 front and 255/55/17 rear Goodyear Eagle RSA radials.
Fortunately, this was also a code 872 red interior car, so there was really no decision to be made regarding what the insides should look like—nothing looks better than a black on red car. Beautifully restored to stock specifications, there was no reason to go wild with something custom because the factory nailed it right off the showroom floor. Even the original bench seat was retained, and it now sports reproduction Bel Air grade cloth and vinyl seat covers. The carpets are correct black and red loop with reproduction red floor mats, and the dash pad is new, along with the headliner and door panels. Nicely integrated auxiliary gauges from Classic Instruments have been installed below the original speedometer, and without looking at the brand name, you might be fooled into thinking they were original. The Moon tachometer on the steering column is a cool period accessory, easily visible between the spokes of the restored steering wheel. The shifter lives in its own little mini console, and is topped by a traditional white cue ball knob. The A/C system has been beautifully integrated in a low-profile housing under the dash, and blows ice cold. Secret Audio provided the entertainment system, which is operated via remote so the original dash could remain clean and uncluttered. And speaking of remotes, this car also has a keyless entry system that works in conjunction with the original handles. The trunk has been finished to stock specifications, with spatter finish paint and simple rubber mats, along with an original bias-ply whitewall spare on a steel wheel.
You can buy this car with confidence, too. It's more than a pretty face, it comes with exceptional documentation that includes a big build book full of photos and receipts. Every phase of the build is documented in color, and the receipts will tell you exactly what components went into the construction of this amazing piece. There are also manuals for all the new components, so you'll be able to operate the car just as if you'd brought it home from the dealer in 1962.
I flat-out love this car. Not only is it from one of my favorite eras in motoring, but it is exceptionally well built with a timeless color combination and a ton of horsepower. All the things that made these cars awesome in 1962 have been carefully preserved and highlighted, while the upgrades merely enhance the driving experience. Run that big engine through the gears and you'll be grinning like an escaped convict before you hit fourth gear, and you'll find yourself constantly turning to admire it after you park and start walking away. If every car were as nicely built as this one, our repair shop would be a very quiet place indeed. Please buy this Bel Air today before I have to sell a kidney to acquire it for myself. Call now!
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