Four years ago, Aussie Shane O'Sullivan took a drive to Sydney, to look at a recently imported '55 Bel Air four-door sedan for his brother. The car was so good he bought it himself.
The Bel Air was purchased for $3,000 at the Pomona Swap meet in October 1997. It came from a Los Angeles family who cut down a sizeable tree to get it out of the garage it had been sitting in for the previous 20 years.
Shane performed a total restoration and right-hand-drive conversion on the 70,000 mile turn-key driver, and within a year he was showing it in the authentic class at car shows all over Australia.
At first the judges marked the car down, saying the metallic in the Regal Turquoise was wrong on a '55 four-door. Shane was annoyed until he realized that Aussie judges had never seen a genuine Bel Air four door in India Ivory over Regal Turquoise. Mainly because nobody had ever imported, converted and restored an American-made four-door sedan to such immaculate original condition.
Australian-made '55s only came in the 210 four-door configuration. Most of the 5,000 cars delivered in Australia in 1955 were painted in conservative gray, white, and cream. They were trimmed in red leather, and all but three special-order right-hand-drive V-8-powered Bel Airs came with six-cylinder engines and three-speed column shifts.
When Shane told the judges that the DuPont coating on his car was correct for an American-made '55, they would usually reply, "That's a long way to ship a four-door, Mate."
And while the judges' quips were probably a fair comment when you consider that the sedan's $5,000 shipping cost would normally be reserved for a coupe, convertible, or Nomad, Shane bought the car knowing that it was good enough to become the best authentic Bel Air in Australia.
After three years of shows, Shane's sedan always cuts a standout line at any street meet or vintage concourse on the East Coast. And with 50 or so trophies in the cabinet, no judge worth their salt would be foolish enough to ever again mark this car down on its metallic turquoise paint.