A wolf in sheep's clothing doesn't even begin to do justice to this '55 Bel Air.
If you're into trailer queens and polishing your show car, just turn the page. This '55 was built for open road cruising. One of the few complaints by classic Chevy enthusiasts is drivability. The remedy to this problem is simple, give that classic Bow-Tie a fuel-injected Vette motor, an overdrive transmission, and few modern touches and you're ready to rock 'n roll.
John Dahlberg wanted a '55 that could handle lots of miles and was a pleasure to drive. Building a beautiful hot rod is one thing, but building a hot rod that drives as nice as this one is another story. When John got together with Daryl at D&P Classic Chevy, they decided to combine the best of the '55 Bel Air looks with Corvette C4 suspension and the LS1 motor.
The 2 1/2-year project car was found locally in Southern California, in better than average condition. After arriving at D&P the '55 was meticulously disassembled and media blasted. While the chassis was being assembled, the steel was reworked and straightened. As the project moved forward, many fittings were required to check both fit and clearance.
A C4 Corvette served as the donor car for the majority of the suspension components, including independent front suspension, independent rear suspension, and Corvette brakes. After all the new cornering elements were installed, the task of shoehorning a late model LS1 was next on the agenda. Despite the '55's spatial challenges, the new wiring harness and aluminum powerplant fit in it's new home like pigs in a blanket.
Having the drivetrain almost complete, the body was prepped in another facility with a final blocking and wet sanding. With the exception of the smoothed out hood, the body was unmodified and ready for paint. A two-tone white and maroon were the chosen colors that this Bel Air would fly. After the paint gun was done flowing, the '55 was reassembled with it's freshened steel and new-found powerplant. The proper chrome trim was reinstalled and the finishing kinks were worked out.
Finally ready for road testing, shop owner Daryl Nance took a cruise around the block, upon return it was obvious that this modern Frankenstein took on a life of its own. John can be sure that his weekend driver packs quite a package and aches for the canyons.
|TECH SPECS ||Owner ||John Dahlberg |
|Vehicle ||'55 Chevy Bel Air |
|Engine ||'01 Chevrolet LS1, 345 hp at 5,600 rpm |
|Transmission ||'01 Chevrolet 4L60E |
|Rearend ||Corvette C4, 3.42:1 with limited slip |
| Front ||Polished Corvette independent suspension, Bilstein shocks,C4 |
| ||disc brakes, cross drilled rotors |
| Rear ||Polished Corvette independent suspension, Bilstein shocks, C4 |
| ||disc brakes |
|Wheels ||17x8-inch Intro Vista wheels |
|Tires ||Bridgestone Potenza 245/40 ZR17 |
|Interior ||Custom two-tone leather interior, Powerglide seats by Custom |
| ||Auto Interiors, Billet Specialties wheel, IDIDIT column |
|Exterior ||PPG two-tone white and maroon, Gene Smith stainless grille |