A Generational Passion
This Chevy may look like your run-of-the-mill classic cruising down the road, but the history behind it has a lot more to tell.
Everyone who enjoys American muscle will immediately recognize and love the fins on a '57 Chevy. It's an icon of the era; the 1950's automotive design language was defined by wings of steel extending off the rear quarter panels of just about anything they could pull it off with.
These fins tell a story far greater than most.
Many hands have touched these handles over the years. Most of the same family.
I've known David, the son of the owner of this Bel Air, for about 5 years now. I knew him for his baltic blue 1994 Supra, a dream car of mine and many with a high school Fast & Furious obsession. I really got to know him when I had my MR2; we became friends from our love for Toyota products.
David always said he'd never sell his Supra. It was his second one he had owned; prior to this he owned a 1996 Supra from Japan, which lead to its own problems. Long story short, that car should not have been in this country and it was seized; it did not meet our 25-year rule for importing a vehicle.
There was always one reason David said he would sell his Supra. In his own words, "If I could find my fathers first car and give it back to him, that would be the only reason I would ever let it go".
David's father is one of the most selfless men I have met. He would drop everything to lend a hand to anyone. While talking to him as I was taking pictures for this article, he offered up his garage for whenever I get around to supercharging my Miata.
He appreciates the community that a passion for cars has brought to him and his son, and back in 2015 when David bought his second Supra, he bought one of his own.
As with many projects, life happened and his father had to sell his Supra, around that time David's Supra went to Nightrun Garage for a VVTI single turbo build, where it resided with my MR2 for a little bit of time.
David's Supra with his father's.
David's father is the sole reason for his love for cars. He put his passion for American muscle aside to watch and help David explore his love for a larger variety of vehicles, from air-cooled Volkswagens to various JDM cars. While he didn't really understand his son's love for imports to such an extent, it was worth it to see him be happy.
David's father had a 1957 Bel Air as his first car. It was originally owned by David's great-grandfather from new, and it ended up in his father's hands. He was a car guy back in the 70's, when muscle was like the modern Honda; everyone had them.
In 1977, twenty years after the Bel Air rolled off the showroom floor, David's father sold the Bel Air and moved to Richmond to start a family. When David was a kid, he would ask his dad what his dream car was, and there was always the same answer; "My 57 Chevy that I never got to finish".
The last time the car had been on the road was 1985.
At some point, David asked his father if he knew the name of the guy who purchased the car. It happened to be one of his good friends growing up, so he knew the name immediately. That name stuck in David's head.
Soon after David had said he'd sell his Supra for his father's old car, he started searching. He ended up finding the phone number of the guy his dad had sold the Bel Air to, and left a voicemail. He thought he had reached a dead end.
Two months later, David got a call from an unknown number. He answered, it was the guy his father had sold the car to back in 1977. David was ready to ask who he had sold the car to, but much to his surprise he had kept the car, albeit in non-running condition. Besides that, it was in largely the same shape as the time of sale with minimal changes.
When David asked if he would sell the car, the response was that he had promised his daughter that they would take it on a drive one day. Not wanting to break that promise, he wouldn't sell it. Another dead end.
David started searching for a similar car to surprise his father with. He was primarily looking for a 2-door gasser with matching wheels to the old car; paint didn't matter as he could easily get it resprayed.
David listed the Supra for sale, unbeknownst to his family and friends why he was doing so. I remember texting him telling him not to sell it, and being out of the loop completely. Within 2 days it had sold.
With the Supra having been sold, the only deadline left was finding a car before Father's Day 2019. With 2 weeks to go, he found a gasser in Detroit and put a deposit on it. Trailer in tow, truck fueled up, ready to make the 10 hour drive to purchase a car the next morning, David gets a phone call.
The owner of his father's old car had discussed it with his daughter, and if they were to sell the car, David would be the one to purchase it. He asked David to come by before he left for Detroit and see the car. The next day, him and his sister went to check it out, and came to a deal.
David had bought his dad's old car.
Now that he had the car, non-running but rolling, he had to figure out just how to get the car into his father's garage without him knowing.
David's sister came to help here, and kept their father distracted on Father's Day while he snuck the car into a bay. Along with this, David had a local artist do a sketch of a '57 gasser as part of the surprise.
The sketch of the gasser.
Once the car was in the garage, David and his family had a Father's Day gathering and gave him some gifts. David's being the sketch. The drawing alone was enough to get his father emotional, something they rarely saw out of him. Clearly he appreciated the thought that went into that alone, not knowing the best was yet to come.
David and his sister convinced their father to go hang up the sketch in the garage, and once the door was open he was greeted by a '57 Bel Air. This wasn't any old Chevy though, it was his car that he had sold 1977. Not a lookalike, the exact car.
His father was in awe when he saw it sitting there. The moment was unbelievable. He didn't think he'd ever see this car again, let alone in his own garage. The one vehicle he longed for the most was now back in his possession, ready for him to wrench on and love like he did in the past.
The emotional connection someone has to a vehicle was obvious in this moment. As car enthusiasts, young and old, we don't see cars as appliances. We have our passion for them; our love for these multi-ton pieces of steel that roam the world.
This emotional connection brought David and his father together. This emotional connection lead to David selling his dream car in order to revive his father's dream, and create memories that will last for generations.