My Classic Car: a show-winning 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

My Classic Car: a show-winning 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

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This 1957 Bel Air two-doorway hardtop arrived off the assembly line Tuesday, April 09, 1957, from the Los Angeles, California plant. It was then sent some time thereafter to Courtesy Chevrolet in Los Angeles, California. My father, Anthony Bonno, 24-a long time-aged and doing work as a mechanic there, acquired it new. He experienced it a couple of many years before meeting and marrying my mother, Janet. I was brought home as a infant in this car or truck as effectively. My reminiscences of this car or truck are powerful, from weekly visits to my grandmother’s home for meal, going to church and sleeping in the back again seat on the way house each Sunday.

James and his father with the Bel Air

The automobile was turned into a second driver just after my father bought a 1969 Impala around 1971. Then all-around 1975 the Bel Air was parked on the side of the house for a handful of years ahead of it was moved into the garage. I keep in mind that working day about 1978 when my father started off it so he could go it into the garage. The moment he obtained it started off, he took a lap all-around the block ahead of parking it in the garage. I don’t forget him coming down the street and up into the driveway and just about likely as a result of the again of our garage! He obtained out of the Bel Air laughing, and I asked why. He claimed he misplaced his brakes coming up into the driveway and barely got it stopped with the hand brake.

So, there it sat in the garage for 20 yrs. Through that time, lots of diverse matters were stacked on leading and all-around it. As the several years went by, there was a host of family and good friends asking my father if he needed to offer his Bel Air. Of system, the solution was “no.” I try to remember one of these instances back again in the early ’80s, when my relatives was struggling a little bit and an uncle brought in excess of a “car guy” to make my father an give of over $10,000. The remedy was “no” once again, and my uncle was a little bit upset that my father did not consider the provide, especially when it would have aided us out. So, again to the “struggle” my spouse and children went, but my father still experienced his Bel Air sitting in the garage.


In late 1998 the Bel Air noticed some daylight and was set on a trailer for a transfer to my parents’ new property. Alongside that journey my father experienced some good provides yelled at him from folks out their windows as the Bel Air built its way down the highway. The Bel Air manufactured it to its new property nonetheless under my dad’s possession and then it sat garaged again right until May 14, 2002.

In the summer season of 2002, right after attending a motor vehicle exhibit and looking at a good 1957 Bel Air, and a host of other autos, I started considering of the opportunity of my father’s, so we sat down and reviewed the cars I’d seen that weekend. We talked about what it would get in time, electrical power, elements, and funds. Then we made a decision it was time to begin restoring his Bel Air.

We aired the tires up and took it out of the garage, washed it, trapped the hub caps on, and took “before” photos. Above the upcoming 8 or so months we stripped the vehicle down. The underbody, chassis and engine compartments got stripped and painted. The entrance and rear suspension were being refurbished with new bushings, springs and steering components. The primary 283 was worn out, my dad reported he had put new rings in one as well lots of times, so it ended up gettign bored out. Whilst the motor was in the equipment store, my father rebuilt the 2-speed forged iron Powerglide. It was an awesome matter to check out him disassemble it on the tailgate of his 1969 C10 pickup. At one place, he could not find some applications to support, so he made use of some scrap steel and established his have. I was astonished to see him dump the buckets of areas out and sort every thing to re-assemble the Powerglide with out even a book to aid.

As the restoration came up on about two a long time, I obtained involved with other hobbies and established aside the venture.

James’ dad operating on the engine

My father permit the venture stall way too, becoming that my passions ended up elsewhere. For the duration of this time, the Bel Air sat with no progress, and unfortunately during that time my father passed absent. One particular of my most important regrets in life was wasting the possibility to complete his car together with him and see him push it. With minor determination just after my father died, I let the Bel Air sit for a number of much more years gathering dust and with no restoration development.

In 2011, even though seeking at my father’s car or truck sitting in parts, I understood that it was a shame to not have a piece of my father’s legacy and my childhood completed. I pooled all my methods and created the motivation that my father’s Bel Air restoration/preservation venture would be precedence #1. There would be no halting, stalling or quitting until it was finished. I resolved to do a entire entire body-off, nut-and-bolt restoration and preservation working with the CCI Judging and Suggestions Handbook as a guideline to restoring it back to first.

James’ restored Bel Air

All chassis, suspension, brackets, rims, seat frames, and so on. have been powder coated to the correct color plan. The glass has been changed with new day-coded EZ Eye glass. Distinct hardware, linkage and hood hinges ended up CAD plated. Other folks were still left normal, cleaned and apparent coated. The exterior is painted Onyx Black more than the Matador Red interior to match the paint code 793A and trim code 676. For the underbody, Pink Oxide primer was coloration matched into one stage paint for an less complicated cleanup from road grime. A comprehensive new wiring harness was put in to exchange the brittle 54-yr-old original. It is geared up with the primary Turbo-Fireplace V8 283/185 engine showcasing a Rochester two-barrel carburetor, and the motor is mated to two-pace forged-iron Powerglide transmission into 3:55 ratio stock differential. The exhaust bundle is two into one. Braking is equipped by Treadle-Vac ability brakes and factory power steering to support halt and steer the 3,000-pound-in addition Bel Air. It has its authentic clock and radio alongside with all initial dash instrument gauges that have been refurbished again to fantastic doing work get.

James’ restored Bel Air

Accomplishing this task took 30-months. As soon as it was roadworthy, my to start with street trip was to carry the Bel Air to my mother and father’s final resting location for them to see. It was emotional, to say the least, standing there in the existence of my mother and father and my father’s Bel Air.

My father’s Belair has been judged by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) scoring 400/400 at the Palm Springs, California celebration on its 1st showing, and it won First Junior in the class. It has also been judged by the Classic Chevrolet Club of The usa (VCCA) at the Tustin and Burbank, California fulfills and scored 994/1000 and 996/1000 respectively. It took To start with Junior & 1st Senior in the class, and was awarded Ideal In Show at both of those occasions.

James B., California