Art Reddick Jr.'s 1956 Chevy Bel Air
(from Volume 26, Issue 320)

story by Art Reddick, photos by Michael B. Kelly


It is always such a nice compliment at car shows to have someone say “thank you for saving an American classic car” after they have looked at the build book of my 1956 Chevy Bel Air 210 Post. Yes the ‘56 was in need of a lot of “T.L.C.” when she was pulled out of a barn in northern Georgia, but that is where most people would have walked away from the build. For me that is where the real story begins.

While it is true that the ‘56 has all the bells and whistles that you can have while building a sleek Pro Touring car, for me it goes much farther than that. I always look at the ‘56 as not something I have built, but rather more a reflection of my mother and father. My mom and dad grew up in the depression area of our country’s history. I don’t think they ever realized how this affected them but the attitude of making the best of what little you had and making the best of the situation has been something that was a way of life for them, and in turn those lessons were passed down to me.

As an only child dad and I spent our time together (when he was home from work) fishing, or in the garage working on cars, trucks and the occasional lawn mower that one of the neighbors had dropped off for dad to work his “magic” on to get it up and running. Dad would always explain why a carburetor or transmission would not work and supervise my work as we would rebuild whatever we were working on. Mother was always in the garage shelling beans, knitting or reading a book, since we did everything as a family!

I always enjoyed working on cars, trucks and motorcycles with my dad, but it wasn’t until we started working on a 1952 International truck that I noticed dad taking extra time and effort in the build. Even to the point of going to the Tallahassee Fire Department to make sure we had the correct fire engine red for the exterior color. When the International was completed dad handed the keys to me and I was the owner of the most beautiful truck in the world.

Fast forward to latter in life, my dad had passed away and my mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s. As an only child I was about to lose the last of my precious gifts in life; my mother. After being a caregiver for so long I wasn’t sure how to reboot my life again, then I remembered how dad, mother and I had always talked about our love for the Tri 5’s and I guess everything started to fall into place.

The car sits on an Art Morrison chassis, and has tubular A-Arms, Corvette C5 drop spindles, and a fully adjustable coilover four link suspension with a panhard bar. Power is provided by a GM Performance LS3 fitted with a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine system, and cooled by an AutoRad polished radiator with dual electric fans. The 525 horsepower is passed thru a 4L65E transmission to a 9-inch Ford rear end with 31 spline Strange axles, 3.50:1 gears, and a Truetrac posi. Stopping duties are handled by a Wilwood master cylinder and Hydroboost power brake system, with 13 inch Wilwood rotors clamped by six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers out back.

The exterior is painted a gorgeous copper and cream, and accented by a set of Coys chrome 5-spoke rims, which on the front are 18 inches in diameter and 8.5 inches wide, while the back rims are 20 inches in diameter and 12 inches wide. Moving inside you’ll find a custom Italian leather interior done up in light brown with cream accents. It utilizes Cadillac Eldorado seats between which rests a custom console that is home to the Lokar shifter, 7-inch monitor for the CD, DVD, and navigation system, as well as the controls for the Vintage Air system. There are lots of billet aluminum and stainless accent items throughout to dress up the cabin, along with a set of Classic Instruments gauges, and a chrome tilt column topped by a retro looking steering wheel.

I am really happy with how the car came out, pleased with the reaction of those who check it out at car shows and cruise-ins, and proud that I have also honored the memory of my mom and dad. So it is true I saved a 1956 Bel Air 210 Post....but in reality the ‘56 saved me - with a little help from mom and dad! CN