Subtle Style And Serious Power Define This Chevy
Photos by Travis Noack
Sometimes it’s hard to characterize what a hot rod, muscle car, or a street rod is. It’s easy when you’re talking about a ’32 High Boy, and a ’68 Camaro is even easier still, but what about a customized 1957 Bel Air? Especially one that is nearly stock appearing on top, but has been completely built underneath? Whichever category you want to put it in, this car is a sweet ride.
Owned by Mel Koich of Boulder City, NV, this car looks super clean with only a slightly modified body, and has been fitted with a modern drivetrain and suspension. Koich retained the stock frame, but had a full Air Ride Suspension system installed. Now equipped with an Air Ride Level Pro system, an Air Ride 4-link system holds the GM 10-bolt rear end aloft while the Auburn Posi and 373 gears keeps the Chevy rolling down the road with little problem. Getting it to stop is also not a problem as Aerospace disc brakes have replaced the stock drums. In front, a set of Air Ride lowered A-arms get the Chevy to drop like the Dow. The front end also features Aerospace disc brakes.
Both ends, however, feature the combination of 19-inch Boze RPM wheels and ultra low-profile Nitto tires.
As stated, Koich wanted his classic Chevy to retain the look of the car the he had longed for, so while he had Carl Brunson of Las Vegas shave the door and trunk handles, the majority of the car was left alone, save for fixing the dents and dings that accumulate over the years. When he had finished with the body, Brunson applied the turquoise paint but it was Dave Vershae, also of Las Vegas, who adorned the car with the Candy Purple ghost flames. Rounding out the job was the addition of Halogen headlights and LED inserts for the stock taillights
Classic looks deserve classic power, and a GMC ZZ430 engine provides all the power that Koich needs to get the car up to speed. Equipped with a 750-cfm Demon carb sitting atop a ZZ4 intake manifold, a set of GM “Fast Burn” aluminum heads complete the scene. A GM HEI electronic ignition and Russell wires get the sparks to the cylinders while providing the spent fuel with a fast getaway are the Jet-Hot coated D&P Classic Chevy headers that combine with Dynomax mufflers to give the Chevy a beautiful growl. Street & Performance valve covers, water pump and alternator do their bit and the Griffin radiator keeps everything cool. To give it a little style, the engine has been painted turquoise to color-match the smoothed firewall.
Mating perfectly with the 3.73 rearend gears is the 700R4 tranny. Specially built by SR7 out of Reno, the tranny has been equipped with their valve body, shift kit and 2,100-rpm stall converter. The crew at Adam’s Driveline spun up a custom driveshaft just for the car.
Retaining the stock bench seat, Koich had it and the door panels covered with cool turquoise and black upholstery. A
Pete’s Fabrications custom gauge panel, complete with Auto Meter arctic white gauges, and one of Pete’s billet dash inserts dress the dash while the Budnik steering wheel and ididit steering column do their share. Other cool interior tricks include a Lokar floor shifter and Danchuk belts, and speaking of cool a Vintage Air A/C unit keeps Koich cool no matter what his hometown Vegas temperature gets to. With the windows up thanks to the air conditioning system, the Custom Autosound stereo pumped up with twin 150-watt amps and playing through the Kenwood speakers (2 6-inch round units and 2 6-inch rectangle) sounds all the sweeter. Starting from scratch, Armand Aquino of Las Vegas wired the entire car.
Bought from former Top Fuel and Funny Car driver Gary Clapshaw, Koich has taken this car and done with it just what we would have done: leave the original look and replace the suspension and drivetrain. And we can’t fault Koich’s reasoning for building this car either. When asked why, his response was simply “I’ve always wanted one!” Yep, we have to agree with that, too.