Retro Designs Restores 1954 Chevy

North Carolina’s Retro Designs recently unveiled a fully restored 1954 Chevrolet Bel-Air.

“Over the Bel-Air’s twenty-five-year production run, the Chevy model had several different iterations. Retro Designs wanted to reimagine a coupe from the first generation, so our production team focused on finding and restoring this 1954 model,” said Retro Designs General Manager Daniel Valjevac. “The Chevy Bel-Air presented an interesting challenge. We wanted to preserve the integrity of the original design and not lean into anything outlandish. Our goal was a sharp, crisp restoration of the car while subtly reengineering almost every facet of the automobile to make a hot rod suitable for today.”

An LT4 640-hp engine gives this Retro Designs Bel-Air hot rod status with a custom cold air intake alongside an ATI 9.17 lower pulley and balancer. Further performance is provided by a Billet Specialties front drive system and Ultimate headers. Valjevac engineered the finned Bel-Air to sit on a custom Scott’s Hot Rods chassis with a special Ride Tech Air Ride Suspension.

Featuring a restoration that took thousands of hours at its brand-new 28,000 square-foot shop, Retro Designs channeled the rear of the 1954 hot rod exterior almost imperceptibly for a sharper silhouette. The Retro Designs Chevy Bel-Air incorporates an 8L90 transmission with a Lokar shifter. The Retro Designs Bel-Air also features Wilwood 4-wheel disc brakes on a set of Boze custom billet wheels with specially fabricated wheel tubs. The front of the car sits on Michelin 245/35/20 Sport Cup tires and wider 345/30/20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cups on the rear.

To provide ground clearance for the low-profile ride, Retro Designs fabricated a specially made oval ss exhaust, Valjevac said. The 1954 Bel-Air includes a new TANKS fuel system and features an American Autowire harness for supporting all electrical systems. Period correct Dakota Digital gauges and entertainment provided via a Rockford Fosgate controlled by a 400-watt 4-channel AMP make sure every part of the Bel-Air remains classically inspired.

The Bel-Air custom features a cool blue two-tone paint job via Axalta. Retro Designs employed multiple artisans to restore and upgrade the cabin interior made possible through hundreds of hours of restoration work, the company said.

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at ahecht@cahabamedia.com.

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