At Cool Rides Online we like to feature members and their rides and let them show off their cool rides. Today we are posting a special feature on Rick Boutwell; an active member in the CRO Forum and a charter member of the CRO Champions team. Rick and his 1955 Chevy Bel Air was featured this month in Chevy Classics Magazine and we wanted to share his story with the entire Cool Rides Online community.
The journey of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air hardtop from under tarps in a garage to a complete restoration is an inspiring one. Rick Boutwell had long dreamed of owning a ’55 Chevy hardtop. The previous owner had trailered just such a Chevy to his residence with an intent to restore it himself. Due to health concerns, he went on to sell it to Boutwell. A tricky 20-mile ride home with bad steering, worn brakes and dry-rotted rubber ensued.
From Swap Meets to Paint Booth
In the years following his 1997 purchase, Boutwell diligently searched swap meets for the many parts that a quality restoration would require. The serious work began in 2002, and the Bel Air hardtop was ready for the paint booth six years later. In December 2008, a local dealership provided the use of its paint booth at no charge. There, the 1955 Chevy was painted with Viper Blue, White with blue flakes and a clear coat. The interior featured upgraded matching blue leather upholstery.
The following summer, Boutwell brought his beauty to its first car show, Dayton’s Hot Rod Power Tour Car Show. At its very first show debut, the Chevy Bel Air attracted the attention of a local television station. The media outlet went on to do a feature story on what had certainly become one cool ride.
Boutwell’s Chevy sports a 383 stroker engine mated to a TH350 transmission. Under the hood, there’s also a Holley 750 cfm 4-bbl carburetor and a certain amount of chrome. According to the dyno, the powertain sends 350 hp to the rear wheels.
Stopping power is enhanced by the use of front disc brakes to accompany the rear drums. The Chevy has been lowered with 4.5-inch drop spindles in the rear and 2-inch spindles in the front. Boutwell went with 15×8 rear wheels and 15×7 front rims. This classic ’50s hardtop rides on Firestone tires.
Boutwell’s meticulous work on his beloved Chevy has been more recently recognized in a big way. When he brought the Bel Air to its first Eckler’s Class Chevy International Car Show, his masterpiece was awarded 970 points out of 1,000, a score good enough to garner a Platinum Certificate.
Dayton’s Gem City Classics was founded in 1979, and member enthusiasts gather for weekly car shows. Boutwell has gone on to become the organization’s elected president. He is also an active participant in the Cool Rides Online community and a CRO champion.
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