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1954 Chevy Bel Air Convertible - No Longer A Stove Bolt

Outside It's a '54, Underneath It's Late-Model and Custom

When Bruce Ricks of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, first came upon this '54 convertible, it was under a backyard tree with flat tires and trash piled to the top of the windshield frame. It must have taken some imagination to see what would eventually come out of that sad sight, but here it is two years later. After dragging it home and loading up a dumpster, Bruce found that both rear quarter-panels had been damaged and replaced, but they were installed crooked. Oh well, such is the lot of an old-car customer. Hot Rod Garage in Sapulpa got the call to rejuvenate the body, which they obviously did, and did well.

Before applying a custom-mix green, the hood was pancaked, resulting in a 1 3/4-inch lower profile, the dash was given the "smoothie" treatment, a custom panel was installed, and the doorsills were customized. After the paint and body work, Austrian leather upholstery and English wool carpets were installed by Dan Kirkpatrick, who also gets credit for hand-making the top. The steering wheel, which seems to fit the era of the car perfectly, is a LeCarra.

A 502 Rat is under the hood, topped by a Holley carb on a Weiand manifold. Air cleaner and valve covers are from Mooneyes, and the exhaust starts with Hedman headers and goes through Flowmaster mufflers. Bruce didn't want an airbag suspension, so he installed Fatman tubular, dropped A-arms in front with coilovers and a four-bar rear suspension on a back-halfed rear frame. Front discs are Wilwood. All the suspension work was done by Hot Rod Garage, who also did the body work. Wheels are Billet Legacy with B.F.Goodrich Comp T/A tires. Bumpers are Smoothie.

Fifty-fours often get overlooked because of the popularity of Tri-Fives. This particular car actually stands out from the crowd of mid-'50s Chevys because of the workmanship, the stance, and rarity of this model's being completely updated.

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