Video: A 1955 Bel Air Rebuilt After A Half Century Of Ownership

We’ve all heard stories from people at car shows about the cars they had back in the day. “When I was in high school, I had a ’60 Impala that I only paid 200-bucks for,” they often say. “The first car I ever had was a ’67 Chevelle.” The common thread to nearly all of these stories is the last thing they say before walking away; “I sure wish that I would have kept it.” Well, Jim Kagley of Marysville, Tennessee, could tell a story like that about the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air that he had in high school, only, he didn’t sell his car. As a matter of fact, he’s held onto it all these years and recently had it completely rebuilt.

No detail has been left untouched on this car.

“It’s a good car,” Jim explained, “and I knew back then that it was good car.” He bought his Bel Air in 1965, and has managed to hold onto it all these years. “It still had the factory primer on the floors.” He has always wanted to rebuild the car, but he also wanted to wait until he retired so he could do it right. He didn’t want to take it apart and have it be “in progress” for years.

Photo by Aaron Romans

Photo by Aaron Romans.

The interior in this car, which is the focus of the video, really makes it shine. Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors did a great job putting this one together. “I was amazingly impressed by what Steve did,” Jim said. “He does not do mediocre upholstery work.”

We couldn’t agree more. We’ve never seen Steve put something together that wasn’t better than the last job. In fact, the first show that Jim attended with the Bel Air, he won best interior.

With the leather trimmed headliner, finished trunk, and LED accent lighting, it's hard to imagine this car not winning best interior at any show that Jim attends.

The thing that really proved to Jim that the interior was above and beyond was when several, random professional interior guys were impressed. The trophy was great, but the way the professionals were impressed by Steve’s work was what pushed it over the top for him.

The rest of the build is on par with the work that Steve did on the interior. The engine is an LS6 with a 4L60 transmission, and a brand new 9-inch rearend. Jim had a custom frame made for it. “It’s not a name brand frame,” Jim explained, “but for my money, I think’s it’s just as good or better than anything else out there.” He also had the entire brake system upgraded to disc brakes all round using a modern GM system.

This car looks great inside and out, and we love the way that he kept all of the trim close to stock.

Tony Preston at Tony’s Customs in Lenoire City, Tennessee, did all of the bodywork, paint, and mechanical work on the car. He also installed the air conditioning and did all of the electrical work on Jim’s car. Tony did a great job building the drivetrain for Jim, and we love the new look of the engine bay. Jim didn’t want much changed in the way of the sheetmetal on the car, but the one thing he did have done was smoothing of the firewall, and boy does it look nice.

Photo by Aaron Romas.

Photo by Aaron Romans.

About the author

Kyler Lacey

A 2015 Graduate from Whitworth University, Kyler has always loved cars. He grew up with his dad's '67 Camaro in the garage and started turning wrenches at a young age. At seventeen, he bought his first classic, a '57 Chevy Bel Air four-door, and has since added a '66 Plymouth Valiant and '97 Cadillac Deville to his collection. When he isn't writing for Power Automedia, he's out shooting pictures at car shows, hiking in the forests of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, or working on something in the garage.
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