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Tag Archives: Bel Air
SEMA ACTION NETWORK UPDATE Michigan Introduces Bill to Expand Use of Historic Vehicles Michigan, the birthplace to many of the collector cars we cherish, has introduced legislation (S.B. 1146) that would amend the state’s current law governing historic motor vehicles … More
The Iola Old Car Show and the Vintage Military Show aren’t the only hip automotive events to hit the greater Iola, Wis., area. The Symco Shakedown rumbles the tiny town of Symco, Wis., with throaty pipes, chirping cheater slicks and … More
John Romppainen grew up during the “Happy Days” era of the 1950s. And there may not be a car anywhere that better represents that golden decade than Romppanien’s lovely 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.
Todd Newton had never had to worry about making one of his restoration projects TOO good before. But then again, he had never tried to authentically resurrect a genuine, family heirloom, grassroots race car, either.
Such was the challenge Newton’s Auto Restoration — the shop in Spring Green, Wis., that Newton runs with his father, Ardell — faced when they tackled a 1957 Bel Air hardtop that had been a racing demon back in the 1960s for Merle Newton., Todd’s grandfather. “I really had to be careful not to over-restore it and make it too nice,” Todd Newton said. “The rough edges around the windows and the holes that they cut in the floor — I left them all just the way they were. I didn’t smooth things out or try to do anything different. We didn’t want anything to be too good. If they torch cut something, I did too.”
Todd and his father, Ardell, are probably two of the only guys around who can judge whether the car looks better today than it did back in its racing days, but its pampered life is certainly different now than it was four decades ago.
The 1957 Chevy Bel Airs were in tune with the times. They were “ Sweet, smooth and sassy,” according to one ad. And they are just as popular today, more than 50 years after their debut, as they’ve ever been.