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Chevrolet Bel Air

Broadcast dates : 16th October 2005
22nd October 2005

To appreciate cars like the Chevrolet Bel-Air, you need to place them in context.

In the 1950s the world was celebrating a time of prosperity and relative peace. 

This was post World War Two and pre-Vietnam, an era of fine family values, country clubs, the Good Life.

And American cars like the Chevy reflected boundless optimism in intricate chrome detailing that would forever be associated with the Rock and Roll era.

The so-called small-block Chevy V8 is the world’s most popular engine. 

This car, owned by Johannesburg businessman Clint Nassef, runs a modern equivalent, boasting fuel injection and other good stuff.

The special sound and gas installation was created by Sportech, the Jo’burg firm more commonly associated with modern go-faster kits.

Elvis Presley released Heartbreak Hotel in 1956, in a year when 1,7 million of these Chevys were built.

This car, converted by Peter and Nelson at Danmar panel shop, has been given subtle hot-rodding touches to the interior, like a wood-rimmed steering wheel and additional instrumentation, but it retains the classic pastel look as far as upholstery is concerned. It’s a tasty mix of old and modern.
The Nitrous Oxide installation was also done by Sportech, for those occasions when a pesky M3 or two needs a wake-up call.

But this Corvette-converted Bel Air was conceived as a cruiser, with mellow Detroit engine sounds to accompany the Rockford Hi Fi.

What we enjoyed about the Chevy was its muted green metallic paint and the way the Corvette C4 wheels blended so well with the styling from the 1950s fins-and-flash era.

And that low ride-height adds to the mellow mood of this beeg machine.

America’s love affair with the automobile came to full bloom in the 1950s. And for South Africans, cars and romance have always been strongly linked.

Hey, this Chevy is one beautiful baby.

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