The custom car scene at SEMA is largely dominated by pro-touring Fords and Chevys. When you do see a Mopar around, odds are it is a classic Challenger or Charger. You just don’t see a lot of Belvederes around these days, which made this one all the more interesting.
This 1956 Belvedere convertible is nicknamed “Rare Air” and was built by Steve Cook Creations in Oklahoma City. The car is owned by Gil Losi, who is no stranger to custom cars. We featured his 1961 Impala “Under PreSSure” from the 2013 SEMA show on this site before. Continue reading
If this was the 1990’s, instead of 2013, I’d be giving you a long article “ho-humming” the shit out of the little Chevy shoe-box. If you’re a younger reader then you wouldn’t understand, but for those of us who remember that time, it was the equivalent to what you see now with 60’s muscle cars. The generation that grew up with, or aspired to own 1950’s steel happened to be the ones with the buying power at the time. A 1971 Chevelle, Gran Sport, Lemans or Cutlass wasn’t an expensive car then. They were about as viable as say, a late 4th gen F-body is now, or a Fox body Mustang was 5-10 years ago. If you opened an issue of Super Chevy Magazine, you were liable to get your eyes overcome with Bel-Airs replete with loud paint, tweed interiors, lots of billet nonsense, and a TPI motor.
Thankfully for this Chevy Bel-Air, it doesn’t succumb to any of that nonsense of the past. It’s a nice clean example of a cool cruiser. As far as this model of cars go, the ’55 happens to be my favorite, styling wise. It has the short grill up front (which was apparently unpopular at the time) and the bodywork is subtle compared to the big fins and huge side chrome on the rock-and-roll 1957’s. 1955 was also the first year for the now ubiquitous small block Chevy V8 powerplant. In the Bel-Air it displaced 265 cubic inches and was rated at 180hp. It’s no rip-snorting ’55 324 Olds, but the small block Chevy’s smart design and insect-like infestation into other GM brands in the mid 70’s ensured it would be the V8 to survive the longest. As far as the design of the Bel-Air, it’s generations came and went like pop songs and by 1958 it was a new design, only to be used for a year and redesigned again in 1959.