1955 Chevrolet Frame Up Built Bel Air 350 with a 700R4
Experience tells us here at RK Motors Charlotte that some cars are simply so nice there's just no way we can charge enough to cover the cost of the build. Collector cars are all about passion, and we've found that the nicest cars we feature are those built by a guy who was in love with the car rather than down to a price or for a quick flip. This 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is such a car beautifully crafted with incredible detailing that was done by someone building his dream car. Cars like this are very special, and they represent incredible value to buyers. These are exactly the kind of cars that simply can't be built for the asking price.
The timeless look of the shoebox Chevys will never go out of style, and the most successful cars are always those that don't mess with success. The GM designers were at the top of their game in 1955, and this car was a game-changer for the entire auto industry. So when you're building your own, have faith in the factory and do as the builder of this car has done: make it as nice as you possibly can without altering the basic goodness of the car. That means classic two-tone paint over superbly prepared bodywork and 100% stock sheetmetal. As street rodders tend to do, the finish work is simply beyond anything the factory could have managed, with excellent gaps and panel fit that makes a statement all by itself. The finish is two-stage urethane and the classic white and red color scheme looks right out of the 50s. With hours invested in the finish, a careful wet sand and buff created a ripple-free shine that glistens in the sun and even under the harsh lights in our photo studio it looks amazing.
Trim is always a challenge in any restoration, and many street rodders, when confronted with the costs involved in restoring and re-plating all that chrome, take the easy way out and paint it. Sure it gives you a unique look, but there's something about this car with all its original trim restored to show condition that sets it apart. The chrome is brilliant, and the stainless steel has been straightened and polished. With the two-tone paint, the trim is the focal point of the entire car, and you know it has to be good. The glass was all replaced during the build, and all the emblems are still present and accounted for. If you can overlook the rumbling exhaust and flashy wheels, this car would be easy to mistake for a concours show piece.
One look under the hood, however, and that illusion is completely shattered. Yes, it's still a small block Chevy, but the eye-popping details and incredible build quality are a far cry from the assembly line. It's a GM crate 350, which means it's reliable and full of new components, and runs with that characteristic rumble that is completely irresistible. If it could be polished or chromed, it's beautifully shined, and if it needed paint, it received a coat of matching bright red. The list of chrome items is extensive, including the alternator, valve covers, power brake booster, master cylinder, and radiator cradle. There's a massive aluminum radiator up front, as well as a pair of artfully installed coolers for the transmission and oil, as well as the A/C condenser for the Vintage Air system. Other cool tricks include the trio of white-faced gauges in their own housing on the firewall, a cool nod to the past that's as functional as it is trick. The inner fenders and firewall were finished to the same standards as the rest of the car, and it's obvious that someone spent a lot of time and effort to get the wiring and plumbing to look so tidy. This is an engine bay that will get people talking, and you'll probably see some of these tricks used on other local rods a few months after you roll this one out of your garage.
The chassis was restored as part of the frame-off build, and wears a coat of satin black paint and undercoating because it was made to drive. A 700R4 4-speed automatic makes it a pleasure to drive at any speed, and out back it uses a reliable Ford 9-inch full of 3.23 gears which make it an extremely comfortable high-speed cruiser. The suspension is stock, but offers upgrades like fat sway bars and modern shocks to help it deliver a smooth ride. A true dual exhaust system features Flowmaster mufflers that exit under the rear bumper through a pair of polished tips. Power disc brakes deliver contemporary stopping power using polished billet aluminum calipers that are like artwork all by themselves. Fortunately, they're on display between the spokes of the polished 17-inch Torque Thrust wheels with knock-off style centers. A set of big-n-little radials give it a slight rake, just enough to let folks know this isn't a stock Bel Air anymore.
Fifty years of technology has been crammed into the stunning red leather interior. With every modern convenience you can imagine, from air conditioning and digital gauges to a navigation system, this car was clearly built to be driven. Those sculpted buckets were custom made for this car, and wrapped in bright red leather that matches the bodywork almost perfectly. A custom center console was created and houses the navigation and entertainment systems screen and controls, as well as a set of vents for the air conditioning system. The original dash has been tastefully updated, retaining the original twin cockpit shape and styling but incorporating billet aluminum trim and an array of modern digital gauges in the original pod ahead of the driver. To maintain sightlines and keep the sleek interior intact, a tachometer was discreetly added under the dash to the right of the center console, which actually looks pretty cool. Add in a polished steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and billet handles for the door and window cranks, and the result is a car with enough bright work to be appropriately 50s in attitude with a modern flair. The trunk has been upholstered to match, and despite being completed several years ago, none of it shows any notable wear, a testament to the quality of the build and the car it has received since it was completed.
This car includes a stack of build receipts and manuals, so you can buy with confidence knowing what went into its construction and care.
If you add up all the ingredients that went into the build of this car, they add up to a number much larger than the asking price. Then look at the preservation and quality of the work, and you know that someone really cherished this car. There are no shortcuts, no marginal parts, and nothing that looks out of place on this uniformly high-quality car. Thanks to the crate motor under the hood, it's also as reliable as it is handsome, and satisfyingly quick around town thanks to the quick-shifting automatic transmission. Quality never goes out of style, and this 1955 Chevy Bel Air is proof. Call today!