We all know how the project car game goes. You pick up a beater for what you think is a steal, plan a few minor upgrades to either get it running, or at least free from rust and looking presentable, then you pick up a Super Chevy and flip through it like you are now to see what others are doing to their cars, how they're tying their Bow Ties if you will, and how you could do it different or even better. There just so happen to be ads with everything a Chevy enthusiast could drool over, so the checkbook opens and the next thing you know you are knee-deep in Rolock discs and Bondo dust and your "daily driver" is shifting towards a show & shine trophy king.
Make no mistake. We are the evil impetus for this obsessive behavior. We scour the shows looking for these special Chevys to capture on celluloid (well, pixels nowadays) and we feature cars that many of you may strive to emulate. We are an automotive drug.
Case in point: Gael Benson, a "domestic engineer" from Utah. She bought the four-door you see spread before you a few years back with the intention of building a clean daily driver she could also take to local auto events. A year and one month later, she had a baby-blue dreamboat bursting onto the show scene.
Believe it or not, this is Gael's first go at a project.
"We purchased this car for a family project from a family friend," said Gael. "It was in pretty poor shape and needed a lot of work."
While they acquired the car for $1,500, Gael mentioned that it was probably worth about $150. Needless to say, it's worth a lot more now that it's been taken from beater to beauty queen. And if there was a car just made for cruising, it's definitely the '60 Chevy Bel Air, with its acres of space and graceful-yet-ominous presence. Did we mention it had four doors?
To get started on the body, Gael took the car to Kindig-it Design. Based in Salt Lake City, the company is one of the Utah's premier high-end hot rod builders. Kindig-it Design was established in 1999 by Dave and Charity Kindig. It started out as a design studio specializing in concept drawings for other specialty shops.
"Originally, we were building this project as a driver when about half way through the owner came in and said that she had changed her mind and wanted to see 'Bella' up on mirrors, so we had to go back to the drawing board and put some more perfecting time into the undercarriage," said Dave. "Also, the body was badly rusted on the lower 8 inches so we had to fabricate panels since they don't make reproductions for that year."
To make it smoother than a baby's bottom, they shaved the mirrors, antenna and trunk lock. Going one step further, they frenched the 2.5-inch HPC-coated exhaust with Borla mufflers into the roll pan, channeling it 8 inches over the cross-frame.
This freshly shaved body's aftershave lotion came in the form of #28 Bella Berry Blue and Cadillac white from Dupont Hot Hues. Where there isn't paint there's chrome. Much of that chrome is on the front and rear bumpers.
While the body is undoubtedly easy on the eyes, some of the more complex work took place out of sight on the chassis. While the frame is stock it has been heavily modified. Built with custom-sculptured 1/5-inch steel, it has a cross-frame center raised six inches and a 1/4-inch street wrap. More bespoke brilliance comes underneath in the form of handbuilt four bar and C-notch sections and a handbuilt front end from the front body mounts forward.
The suspension that this chassis is supported by is as exciting as the exterior. A '96 Corvette IRS with a modified four-link and narrowed half shafts ensure that the Bel Air avoids that thing that sounds like a female punk rock band-Axle Tramp.