1960 Chevy Bel-Air
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air is, arguably, the most iconic American classic car of all time. In the popular imagination, it symbolizes the “Happy Days” era of drive-in movies, car hops, and early rock ‘n’ roll like nothing else.
So, it makes sense that later versions of the Bel-Air might not get the attention from collectors and fans of classic cars that they deserve. The 1960 model, for instance, represents an important step forward for Chevy. Sleek and decidedly modern for its time, it helped to set the company’s design direction for the coming decade.
In the Spotlight
A recent episode of the Discovery Channel reality show “Fast and Loud” brought public attention to the 1960 Bel-Air. The show follows the activities of the Gas Monkey Garage in Houston, Texas, which specializes in restoring and modifying classic cars.
The particular Bel-Air featured on the show was a beautiful black-on-black hardtop coupe. While it was in reasonable shape for its age and had obviously been taken care of by its previous owners, there was still lots of work that needed to be done. The car was stripped down to its frame and every component was cleaned, repaired, or replaced.
The Gas Monkey Garage team’s plan with the big Chevrolet was not to restore it to factory spec perfection but, rather, to turn it into a modern-day hot rod. The suspension, brakes, and engine were all replaced by contemporary, high-tech versions. The car now accelerates, corners, and stops at a much higher level than it ever did when new.
Aesthetically, though, Gas Monkey decided to keep things classic and understated. The car’s existing paint was left intact. The interior was reupholstered but its simple, all-black look was maintained. The original dashboard, seats, and even carpeting were all left in. From the outside, modern alloy wheels and a lowered ride height are the only clues that this sleek ’60s cruiser is not a straight restoration.