The time it takes to build a project car can sometimes seem never-ending. As soon as you finish one portion of the build, another gets underway. And then there are the inevitable hiccups that present themselves and need to be overcome. But, what happens if your project car is nowhere near where you reside. Such is the case for Bryan Jernigan. Bryan started his military career in 1993, and has been traveling this big, blue marble we call Earth since then. But, his love for all things Chevy started long before that.
“I have been hooked on Chevys since my first one, a ’68 Camaro that I got in 1991. In 2013, I started looking for a Nomad, and Jeremy Weibe, my best friend since high school, said he knew of a ’55 Bel Air that had been sitting in his uncle-in-law, Daryl’s, backyard since the ’60s,” Bryan said.
Daryl sold the car to Bryan, because he was considered family, and Bryan then spent the next six-months planning each phase of the rebuild while acquiring all the parts. His labor force was family and friends, starting with his Dad, Dennis Jernigan and his Step-Dad, Mike Harvey. He also relied heavily on two long-time family friends, Barry Bennett, and Jesse Dudley.
Phase I was all about the chassis and drivetrain. That meant getting the Art Morrison GT Sport chassis painted and assembled, the engine and transmission fitted, the plumbing routed, and getting everything ready for the body to join.
Speaking of the engine, Bryan found a “seasoned” LQ4 6.0-liter engine from BD Turnkey Engines, and he tells us that they did a fantastic job with the wiring harness, ECU tuning for a manual transmission, and delivery. The transmission is a Tremec T56 he found on Craigslist, which was mated to the LS engine via an LS7 clutch.
Phase II focused on the body and getting it mounted to the chassis. After cleaning out 50+ years of ‘stuff” from the car serving as a home to critters while stored, it required some minor body repairs, but, we’re told that overall, mounting of the body to the new chassis went very smoothly. Unfortuanltey, the project stalled in 2015. “I was assigned to England, and two years later, I’m now in Korea for a one-year stint.” So, he outsourced the hardest phase to Jesse Dudley, a guy that Bryan says is a true craftsman in all things automotive.
Jesse tackled phase III, which saw the wiring become one with the car and the installation of the interior. Inside the Bel Air is all new, thanks to Ciadella Interiors. “After looking at all the samples Gina sent me, I settled on Italian leather with ’57 Chevy black cloud inserts and a silver headliner,” he stated. The bucket seats are Procar, and the back seat is original. Jesse also hand-hammered the rear fender straight, preserving the original patina. He then repaired and repainted it to match the rest of the car.
“I will never sell this car – it’s my dream Chevy. My ’55 Chevy is finally done, and it’s taken three years to complete. The car is priceless to me because I was able to build it with my Dads and some phenomenal family friends” Bryan stated.
In closing, this is the car I will enjoy for the next 50 years (I’m 44). I should get to drive it in July, 2018, and depending on my next assignment – if it’s in the U.S. – I’ll be driving it every chance I get. I just can’t wait to take my beautiful wife Patricia Jernigan for a cruise. This month, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary while apart, and she is unquestionably my rock whose incredible love and support allows me to serve my country.”
Do you want to read about more Home-Built Heroes? All you need to do is click here. If you own a Home-Built Hero, we want to hear about it. Since we’ve started the series, we have received more than a few candidates, but we still want to see more – we can never get enough. If you want to see more cars built by you the readers, send us a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and we’ll make you Internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].