By Brian N. Willhite
Ralph and Cheryl Renz
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop
Ralph and Cheryl Renz have made their 1955 Bel Air a prized family possession, one they hope will stay in the family for generations.
“It’s been in our family since 1955,” said Ralph. “My wife’s aunt bought it and the only thing ever done to it was that her father put new seat covers on it.”
The all-stock Bel Air was passed down to Cheryl by her father, and she hopes to pass it down to one of her children some day.
Through the years, they’ve steered clear of making sporty modifications, respecting the wishes of Cheryl’s father, who didn’t want it to be turned into a hot rod.
The car is special, she said, because of the “family history behind it.”
Dan Vaughn’s wish to someday own a hot rod has become a reality, and he’s now the proud owner of a supercharged 1955 Chevy. His highly modified ride flaunts a supercharged Big Block 540-cubic-inch Chevy engine and is primed for burning rubber on the drag racing strip.
Most of this Chevy still contains its original frame, though the back half has been cut and modified to make room for the oversized tires. Vaughn also added a TH-400 automatic transmission with a Gear Vendors overdrive transmission, which produces 1,000 horsepower.
His favorite part of his car is the supercharged engine, custom-built from a Shafiroff racing engine.
1951 Chevy Business Coupe
Larry Turner loves his 1951 Chevy, and said it was destined to be his. He bought it after seeing the car for sale in the paper about six years ago.
The car was kept in original condition but needed to be retrofitted. He added a 350 engine and some modern conveniences like power steering, power brakes, a stereo system and air conditioning. He also kept the car “true to class” by not adding a back seat, which is how the Business Coupe was designed.
“The back wall folded down, so the business man could put things in the trunk all the way through,” Turner said.
His favorite part of the car is its comfort, especially for those Sunday afternoon drives.
“You get in the seat and the way the car just sits, it’s just real comfortable to drive — not like the new ones,” he said.
1954 Mercury Monterey
For Lynn Butterworth, driving his restored 1954 Mercury Monterey is a dream come true, one he has been dreaming about since he was a teenager.
“When I was in high school, this was the kind of car that us kids wanted,” Butterworth said. “So when I found this one, some of the things I did to her were the things we would have done back in the 1950s.”
Butterworth has made most of the modifications using stock items and even restored the original engine and three-speed transmission, although he did add some modern safety features including new brakes.
It’s a car he’s always wanted and finally has, Butterworth said.
“It’s a nostalgia thing for me, and it’s just something that I love.”
1948 Chevy Pickup
For Steven Contreras and his father, buying and working on this 1948 Chevy Pickup has been a bonding experience they have cherished.
They purchased the truck for $75 from a seller in Las Vegas looking to part with a wrecked and dilapidated vehicle.
Contreras said the truck was in bad shape, with no front end and covered in rust. But he felt there was something special about it, and it was waiting to be restored.
Contreras modified the car by adding modern features, including suicide doors, tilted front end and bed capabilities, a 350 engine with a turbo 350 automatic transmission and airbags.
Contreras and his father also did the interior work and paint job.
His favorite feature about the truck is that it comes apart.
“It’s kind of like a Transformer,” Contreras said. “When it’s all together, you could never tell it comes apart.”