High-revving engines, exotic, custom-built machines that hot-lap the nation's finest motorsports facilities at nearly 200 mph-that's what Larry McClure surrounds himself with on a daily basis. As co-owner of the Morgan McClure Motorsports (MMM) #4 Kodak Max Film NASCAR Winston Cup racing team, "stock car" takes on a completely different meaning. Walk into the showroom at the Morgan McClure Motorsports museum and you will be greeted with an array of vehicles ranging from racecars to various streetcars from the owners' collections. Super Chevy cameras stumbled on Larry McClure's beautiful '57 Bel Air while at a Super Chevy Show in Bristol, Tennessee. The Bristol Super Chevy Show is only a short distance from the MMM facility (it's a great place to visit while in town for the show), so it's no surprise that a number of shop employees were on hand either showing or racing their cars.
A stock car may not be what you'd expect from someone who has the means to build any style car money can buy (and a staff of experts with the know-how). In reality, thechange of pace was probably the biggest draw for McClure in building a milder machine. Larry's list of previous cars includes some of Chevrolet's greatest, including a '65 Corvette, '67 and '72 Chevelles, a '67 Camaro, and a '69 Z28, as well as a '54 Chevy convertible.
After finding the right car, everything was stripped from the frame. Then Gary Robins of Norton, Virginia, cleaned up and powdercoated the frame. All suspension components are original replacement parts, as is the rearend and power steering. Buying a car that needed very little bodywork make the project a bit easier. Robins also handled the body and paint. After working the body smooth he sprayed just the right shade of factory silver.
Under the hood it was an easy decision to have the same experts who build the Winston Cup powerplants work their magic on the vintage '57 block. They didn't use anything from their vast racing parts inventory. Instead, they used components that maintained the originality of the factory mill. An exception to the stock theme was balancing the new assembly. Darrell Rasnake assembled the components while Mitch Hopson preformed the headwork. Fuel is mixed by a pair of AFB carburetors and flows out stock manifolds and stainless mufflers. Shifting duties begin with a stock column-mounted shifter and a Powerglide transmission.
Beautiful red and black upholstery covers the interior. The materials were all purchased from C.A.R.S., while Nadine of Dungannon, Virginia, stitched together and installed the new interior. A far cry from the purpose-built machines Larry spends much of his time around, the '57 is equipped with many luxuries from the '50s, including the comfortable power bucket seats found inside his classic.
It might not be what you'd expect from someone tied to NASCAR, but Larry Morgan's Bel Air is a fine example of classic styling-don't forget that once upon a time, stock cars were actually that-stock cars.
If you find yourself in the area, Larry Morgan's '57 Bel Air and many other cars (racing and otherwise) can be found on display at the Morgan McClure Motorsports showroom and store located at 26502 Newbanks Road in Abingdon, Virginia.