Friday, October 28, 2011

Livermore Street Sighting - 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air

Some time ago I put up a poll asking readers for input regarding cars photographed near, but not in, car shows. Most respondents said that any car parked on the street is fair game. Now, I could easily cheat and photograph every old car I see parked near the county fairgrounds when the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association puts on a show. Lots of people bring out their cars but are reluctant to pay Goodguys' entry fee to show their vehicles within the fairground gates. But likewise, I've long been reluctant to call those "street sightings" even though they technically are. Readers can expect to see more cars like this in the future, photographed near (but not in) car shows. To avoid diluting my collection of "legit" sightings, I'm figuring on limiting features like this to no more than one per month. Enjoy!

I came across this sharp 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air about a block away from a more localized car show, Livermore's annual Nostalgia Day. It's become one of my favorite local events over the last couple of years due to its large yet manageable size, informal feel and free admission. This car was, in all likelihood, a spectator's vehicle which stood out from the line of everyday cars at the curb like a sore thumb on fire. I couldn't help but document it. I blame my good friend at The Automotive Way, who got me hooked on '58 Chevys.

I used to be hit or miss on these cars, with their heavy body design dripping with chrome, unusual folded-over tail fins, and that huge toothy grille in the front. Over time, they've come to grow on me. The mid-range Bel Air lacks some of the gingerbread of the new-for-'58 Impala, which I like; but it also lacks the Impala's six taillights, which I prefer over the Bel Air's four. It was available with three engines, including the new 348 cubic inch big block V8 for plenty of grunt. Since this is a mild custom car, I have no way of knowing which engine it has, but if that hood once hid a 348 it's probably still there. If it were originally a six-cylinder car I wouldn't be surprised if the owner has retrofitted a chromed-out 348 or dropped in a modern GM small block crate V8. I'm really liking the vintage style chrome 5-spoke wheels and thin whitewall tires. There's really not much about this car I'd change.

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