Dogs may have always been man's best friend, but you'd be surprised what they can do for the creative soul, as well. For those unfamiliar with skateboarding, a lot of the stunts started in empty swimming pools throughout Southern California. Those groups of individuals are the pioneers of the sport. One particular pool became a regular spot for skaters, which later earned the name of "Dogtown," as dogs often surrounded it. The styles, moves, and form of modern skateboarding developed greatly in this area, and because of that, Dogtown has become legendary in the sport. Brent Casteel may not be a skateboarder, but he does have his own Dogtown.
Back in 2000, Brent was walking by an old house when he noticed a pack of barking dogs. As he looked over, he noticed they were standing on what looked like the silhouette of a vintage Chevy. As he crept through the "dogpen" to get closer to the rust- and dirt-covered pile of metal, he noticed it was a '65 Bel Air. The car looked as if it had rolled out of the south end of a northbound cow. Both quarters, the floorpan, and a front fender were completely rotted. As for the windshield and rear glass, the only thing holding them in was gravity. Even though Brent's family was against buying the Bel Air, he still opted to go for it and picked up the rust bucket for a bank-shattering $300. From there, it was off to the races.
Brent's vision for the Bel Air was long, low, and sleek, but since it was in no shape for the road-or the eyes-it was going to be a long journey. Before the teardown and build got started, Brent started collecting parts. For the next three years, he slowly pieced his vision together part by part. When all the parts were collected, it was time. The focal point of the build was to be the body. All the years in the pen really took their toll on the Bel Air, and before any customizing could take place, the rust had to be fixed. Since the '65 Bel Air isn't the most popular car, some of the parts were hard to come by. Around the front and rear glass, the metal was everything besides intact, and the patches to fix it were nowhere to be found. With a few pieces of metal, a hammer, and a torch, Brent fixed that problem by fabricating some custom panels. To get the sleek look he wanted, the chrome and trim were stripped off, and left a smooth and sleek body that would later receive DuPont Viper Red paint. Another custom aspect giving the '65 a unique look is the LED taillights that Brent worked up in his garage. After more than three years in the making, his vision was unfolding in front of him.
While the body came together just as Brent had envisioned, something was still missing. Without the right stance, the body lines just weren't accented right. When sorting the suspension options, there was only one way to go-air. Considering that Brent is a family man, the car would be loaded up rather often, and a standard lowering job would decrease the car's drivability. The stock height of the Bel Air, however, didn't quite fit the criteria of long, low, and sleek. Airbags, therefore, were the perfect match. Using Firestone airbags at each corner gives the '65 the perfect stance and drivability. Combine the stance with the Torque Thrust II rims (17x7 up front and 17x8 out back) wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber (255/50/ZR17s all around) and the second half of Brent's vision is dialed.
By no means is the Bel Air a small car. The shear weight of the cruiser is enough for any engine to handle going down the road. Once the family is thrown into the mix, things get really interesting. Brent knew something with some "juevos" had to be sitting between the framerails. The answer came when he stumbled across a 350 Tuned Port Injection engine from an '88 Vette. The stock engine combined with a COMP Cams camshaft and Hedman headers is plenty to get the Bel Air up and running. Making things more exciting is a Tremec T56 six-speed mounted behind the TPI engine. With the engine in place and the tranny locked and loaded, Brent is like a hired gun slinging through gears down the road.
Last on the list is the interior. The stock, yet refined, plan for the exterior was instilled in the interior, as well. Brent took the things he liked about the interior and left them that way; as for the rest of it, he did it his way. After the stock gauges were ripped out, the dash was smoothed over and digital gauges were installed. A piece of smoked plexiglass was then installed across the entire dash. The seats up front were left to see another day, but were covered in tan leather and tweed by Rodgers Upholstery. The backseat was handmade by Brent and also covered in leather. The door panels, console, and headliner were all custom-built by him, as well. Keeping the Bel Air cool is a custom-routed A/C system. The front vents come from underneath the dash, and the rear vents are run through the headliner. What started out as a rust bucket in a dogpen transformed into a representation of Brent's style and attitude, just like skateboarding did in a SoCal swimming pool.