Feature - Lorne and Dorothy Gilbert’s 1955 BelAir sport coupe
Most of the Classic Chevys that are around today spent their earlier years in southern climates avoiding the winter salt which consumed many of the Canadian Chevys that were new here in 1955, 56 and 57. With a small supply of good local cars, many enthusiasts head south to find that rust free Classic.
When Lorne was searching for his Classic, it came to him. This ‘55 started its life in Texas, where the weather is much friendlier to sheet metal. It was brought back from Texas by a gentleman in New Brunswick. This fellow owed another gentleman, who happened to live in Lorne’s neighbourhood, some money and he took the ‘55 as partial settlement. Shortly after its arrival in Lawrencetown, Lorne spotted the ‘55 driving around near his home. He followed it and when it stopped a deal was struck and Lorne became the owner of a Glacier blue and India ivory ‘55, equipped with a power pack 265 and powerglide transmission.Lorne and Dorothy drove the ‘55 in its stock form for a few years, but the itch to make some improvements needed to be scratched. However, as many of you know, one thing leads to another and this turned into a 12 year body off restoration. Lorne chose the “restified” route with his Classic. The sheet metal is unaltered and all of the exterior trim is in place. It even sports the optional grill and fender guards, fingernail guards, stone shields and rocker moldings. However, the colour has been changed to Raspberry Pearl and white in base coat clear coat. Finishing off the exterior is a set of 15" American Eagle mags sporting B.F. Goodrich TA’s.
Under the hood is the ever popular 350. It now displaces 355 cubic inches and has been warmed up with headers, an HEI distributor and parts Edelbrock and Holley.. Well known local drag racer, Vaughn Boone, ported and polished the heads. Behind the small block is a column shifted 350 transmission which has been treated to a shift kit. The stock rear housing carries 3.55 gears.
Inside, the stock seats remain, but have been recovered in grey tweed. Although the original wonderbar radio still occupies the dash, cruising tunes are pumped out on a 400 watt Clarion stereo system. A leather wrapped LeCarra steering wheel replaces the Bel Air unit.
To make driving more enjoyable Lorne has added power disc brakes up front as well as an anti-sway bar to level out the corners.
Although it’s only been two years since his ‘55 has been back on the road, Lorne continues to make improvements and has plans to add a rear anti-sway bar, tilt column and 605 steering box.