Russ Pantieo lives in Hacienda Heights, California, and built a business as an electrical contractor. What he really wanted to build, though, was this '56 Bel Air. It's Russ' way of reliving youth, since his first car, which he had at the tender age of 16, was a '56 Chevy. However, we doubt that his first one was anything like this one.
The car was purchased from a "little old lady in Pasadena" (Pantieo swears that's true) and began a frame-off buildup. Kugel Komponents did the frame, while Mark Mahood massaged the sheetmetal. After a complete prepping and bead-blasting of the frame, Kugel installed his own-design independent rear suspension system, dropped spindles, GM ZZ4 crate engine, 4L60E trans, and suspension components and rolled out a complete chassis. Mahood's shop stripped, bead-blasted, block-sanded, and painted the entire body before it was pieced back on the frame, ready for electrical and upholstery. Bill Burton handled the wiring and lights, and Ron Mangas did the upholstery in light gray with dark gray ostrich leather accents.
With the changes made to this car, the "little old lady" would never recognize it, nor would any 16 year old know it was a '56 he was driving. According to Pantieo, the changes made to the suspension have upgraded the handling so much that he's considering adding a few more ponies since it can easily handle everything the ZZ4 can put out now. Maybe then Russ will decide that this '56 is enough...but we doubt it.
Russ Pantieo, Hacienda Heights, CA
'56 Chevrolet Bel Air
ZZ4 Chevrolet crate motor, 350 ci, Edelbrock RPM manifold, Doug Thorley headers, Cadillac mufflers, March serpentine pulley system
Kugel Komponents, La Habra, CA, custom IRS using 9-inch center section, 3,73:1 ratio.
Front: Hal Coilovers, 605 steering box, disc brakes
Rear: Pro Coilovers, Kugel control arms, disc brakes
Front: Budnik 16X7
Rear: Budnik 17X9
Tires: B.F. Goodrich
Light gray with dark gray ostrich leather accents
Painter: Mark Mahood, Stanton, CA
Ron Mangas, Bloomington, CA