Reader’s Ride: Gerry Galinski’s Yenko-Powered 1955 Chevy

Gerry Galinski’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air’s journey to restoration is a narrative steeped in history and personal connection. Sitting in a disassembled state, the Bel Air was purchased by Gerry Galinski from a former employee of Yenko Chevrolet. The previous owner, whose life was dedicated to Yenko from his teenage years into retirement, had amassed a treasure trove of “new old stock” parts, intending to restore the Bel Air himself. However, time and health were not on his side, and the project was left uncompleted. This is why Gerry, a man with military precision and a car enthusiast’s heart, took on the project with the respect and dedication it deserves.

1955 Chevy Bel Air

With a healthy 400 cubic-inch small-block and a four-speed, there isn’t a better ride fitted for a pilot.

One of the pieces to the puzzle that the previous owner had collected was a 400 cubic-inch small-block Chevy. While we all know someone who has an uncle with a 400 small-block, this one is a little more rare than that. Gerry has the privilege of saying his was built at Yenko Chevrolet. During its stay at the famous franchise, the engine was outfitted with World Products Sportsman heads, a healthy camshaft, and an Edelbrock manifold and carburetor.

Some of the other parts collected for this 1955 Chevy consist of a Muncie four-speed, a Ford 9-inch rearend, power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, and power windows to round out the modern comforts and performance upgrades. Gerry’s ’55 is a perfect example of blending classic aesthetics with modern functionality.

1955 Chevy Bel Air

Despite some of the modern touches, this first-generation small-block stays close to Chevy’s performance roots.

Driving this Bel Air is a visceral experience. Galinski describes it as a “blast.” The built engine under the hood and the car’s eager response to the throttle make it hard to resist opening up that four-barrel carb. However, this thrill comes at the cost of fuel efficiency, with the car’s “thirst” averaging 10 to 11 miles per gallon. But for Galinski, the joy of driving such a machine is worth every penny.

With the four-speed, it’s hard to not play. – Gerry Galinski, Owner

For Galinski, the Bel Air is more than a car; it’s a narrative of his life, interwoven with the threads of his personal and professional history. His 20-year service in the U.S. Air Force, starting on his 18th birthday, saw him as a tail gunner on B-52 bombers, accumulating over 3,000 flight hours. Post-retirement, he transitioned to a career in the Department of Corrections, rising to the role of Deputy Warden. His second retirement has not slowed him down one bit, as he now works part-time in school security, a great way to finance his passion for his Bel Air.

Gerry’s love affair with the 1955 Chevy Bel Air began at 16, with his first car being a model of the same year. It’s a passion that has only grown with time, culminating in his current restoration project. The Bel Air has undergone significant mechanical and cosmetic enhancements to fit Galinski’s vision of perfection, leaving him with little else he wishes to change. Yet, the idea of adding electric exhaust cutouts and line-lock for the sheer fun of it is always in the back of Gerry’s mind.

1955 Chevy Bel Air interior

While some classic car owners might limit their vehicles to the occasional car show, Galinski is of a different breed. For him, the Bel Air is not a static showpiece but a companion for the open road. He relishes solitary drives, exploring without destination. That is a concept his wife amusingly struggles to agree with. In one summer alone, he clocked 3,000 miles, an impressive feat considering Pennsylvania’s limited driving season.

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In the world of classic car restoration, stories like Galinski’s remind us that these machines are more than collections of parts and memories—they are living legacies that continue to inspire and captivate. The 1955 Chevy Bel Air, once a disjointed puzzle in the hands of a Yenko employee who was also an enthusiast, now cruises the roads of Pennsylvania as a symbol of American ingenuity and the timeless bond between man and machine.

Let’s See Your Chevy!

We love to see other enthusiast’s rides as well. It doesn’t matter whether they are still in the build process, if they are finished, or if you’re simply enjoying them in their current state. All we need are a few photos and some information about you and your Chevy. That said, the more information and images you submit the more we can show (and talk about) your car to the rest of our readers.

Get a Chevy Hardcore T-shirt!

We’re looking forward to seeing what you are doing to keep the Chevy Hardcore lifestyle alive. If you want to see more cars built and owned by our readers, send us a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all the pertinent information, so we can include it in our Reader’s Ride section. And don’t forget, if we use your car in our Reader’s Ride section, we’ll send you a FREE Chevy Hardcore T-shirt! You can send your submissions to [email protected].

About the author

Caecey Killian

I’d rather spend a night in the garage than a night out on the town. With over 10 years of experience building cars and going fast, I am still just as excited to keep learning and keep going faster.
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