1953 Chevy Bel Air Sedan

Greg Zyla
Q: Hi Greg, I just read your column “The Cars of my Early Childhood” in my local paper and it brought back many fond memories. Like you, I was drawn to cars at an early age when my dad and his two brothers operated an automotive upholstery shop in my hometown of Fall River, MA.
They did all kinds of work on cars from landau tops (remember them?) to convertible tops, seats, carpets, armrests and trunk pads. My cousins and brothers worked there at various times as well, so it was sort of a family affair.
When my mom and I would stop by towards the end of the workday (usually on Fridays) to pick Dad up after work, I would wander through the shop and the parking lot and sit in many of the cars while Mom visited with my aunts who worked in the office.
Over the years I have sat behind the wheel of many classic cars from Ford Model A’s and T’s to Corvettes and T-Birds and various models of Fords and Chevys of the 1950’s and 1960’s. I was even given a ride once in a Rolls Royce owned by one of the local car dealers that frequented the shop. It’s therefore no surprise that I have a passion for cars from that era.
The shop only recently closed following the passing of my last uncle. But before he died, he helped me with my restoration of a 1953 Chevy Bel Air Sedan. Nowadays, many car interiors can be purchased as a kit, but the headliner is a very tricky installation. So, my Uncle at the age of 80 years, helped with that part of the restoration and there is not one wrinkle!
It looks great and the project is nearing completion, only needing some minor bodywork and a paint job to return it to the original colors. I have attached a few photos showing the current state of the project.
While the car is not one of the more favorite Chevy’s of the 1950’s (like the 55’s through the 57’s), it is a head-turner.
Each time I take it out for a ride, people usually wave, give me the thumbs-up or simply beep their horns in appreciation for the classic looks of the car. If I stop for gas, total strangers sometimes approach me usually saying that they either learned to drive in this model or their grandfather or father once had one long ago and it brings back many pleasant memories.
Due to the amount of chrome (which has been professionally restored) on the car, I have named it “the Granddaddy of Bling.”
Thanks again for your articles, I look forward to them each week! I hope you enjoy the photos of the car. Best Wishes, Dave Hague, MA .
A: Dave, thanks for your kind words and the outstanding photos of your 1953 Chevy Bel Air. It is a beauty from front to rear. Your upbringing and close family ties sure made for a great way to learn about and love cars.
To this day, there was never a decade that featured more cars and trucks by so many manufacturers as the 1950s, and I’m happy you shared with my readers your early life experiences. Continued success to you and yours.

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