With all the attention focused on the “shoebox Chevys,” it's often easy to forget how handsome and fun to drive the earlier Chevrolets really were. Called the “club coupe,” this lovely 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air presents in excellent condition throughout, thanks to recent restoration work. Better yet, the original six is gone, replaced by a stout 350 cubic inch V8, eliminating your last reason not to own a '50s Chevy that isn't a Tri-Five.
Painted in the correct code 556 Horizon Blue paint with a white top, the wonderful '50s pastel combination fits the Bel Air perfectly. Refinished several years ago, it has a lovely patina that fits its personality and looks entirely appropriate on the vintage steel. Detailing is still crisp, with the subtle eyebrow on the front fender to the bulging rear quarter panels that recall the separate fenders of the pre-war era. The doors open and shut nicely with good gaps, and there's an honesty to this car that's hard to put into words. It just feels right. Much of the chrome and stainless (and there's quite a bit of it) has been restored and polished up, so it just glitters against the soft blue paint. That distinctive Bel Air trim would be continued into the new V8 models, adding a splash of contrast to the sides of the car that made the high-end models so recognizable.
The interior uses correct materials and patterns, which Chevy referred to as a “fashion fiesta” (no, I'm not kidding). Two-tone seats in shades of light blue and off-white are comfortable enough for all-day cruising and have a nice patina that suggests they might just be original. The dashboard is perhaps GM's last use of art-deco styling, with a delicate stainless grille for the radio speaker and glove box lid. Instrumentation is an asymmetrical panel ahead of the driver, which contrasts with the later cars and their twin cockpit styling and the gauges are modern units from Dakota Digital that fit seamlessly into the original housing. The slick custom steering wheel might not even get noticed it looks so right, and along with a tilt column it's easy to get comfortable. There's also a modern A/C system neatly installed under the dash where nobody will even notice it. Chevy advertised increased back seat space for 1954, and while it may not be the sports car environment that Chevy claimed in their brochures, it's handsome, comfortable, and spacious enough for four friends on a long road trip, especially with that big trunk and full-sized spare.
Power comes from a 350 cubic inch Summit Racing crate motor that's actually a neat fit in the '54's engine bay. Upgraded with a Bowtie intake manifold, Holley 4-barrel carburetor, center-bolt heads, and an HEI distributor, it starts quickly, lighting off with an aggressive burble from the twin tailpipes out back. It also features a serpentine belt drive system for the accessories, a big aluminum radiator, and electric fans for cooling. The chassis is clean and solid, with the front suspension being a Fatman Fabrications A-arm setup with rack-and-pinion steering and sway bars at both ends. Front disc brakes are also part of the deal, as is a TH350 3-speed automatic transmission. Rolling stock consists of the steel wheels with full wheel covers and a set of flashy 225/70/15 wide whitewall radials.
Today, as it was more than 55 years ago, this Bel Air club coupe offers a lot of style and performance for the money. Call now!