It's no coincidence that Nick Hild's first new car was a '62 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop. It had a 327 mill, Nassau Blue paint, and (after a trip to Tijuana) a $99 tuck 'n' roll job. Nick sold the car when he started college in 1965, but obviously never forgot it. "Fast-forward (actually, slow-forward) 30 years," Nick wrote to us. "I wanted to replicate that original car, using modern components."
In 1994, Nick paid twice the price of his brand-new '62 for this one, a retired drag racer complete with blown-up motor, stripped interior, and hewed-out wheelwells packed with cheater slicks. After a frame-off rebuild, Nick wasn't satisfied and took the bubbletop to Tony Kilby at The Cobbler's Shop in Apache Junction, Arizona, for a complete '60s-style redo. The idea was to create a mild custom evocative of the '60s, but with modern perks. The body panels were shaved and accented with side trim from '62, '63, and '64 Impalas, engine-turned and fabricated to fit the '62 Bel Air lines. The custom aluminum grille is now flanked by Lucas-style headlights from Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California, with chrome bezels from Pete's Chrome in Phoenix. Below that is a filled custom bumper, created from a pair of originals. Taillights are off of a '59 Caddy, shortened and frenched into the lower deck. BFGoodrich Radial T/As roll on 14-inch chrome reversed rims with original Cal Custom spiders. Springs from Classic Chevy drop the frontend 3 inches and the rear 2, while maintaining the stock spring rate. Finally, the car was finished with House of Kolor Violet Pearl over '00 Taurus Dark Blue, applied at The Cobbler's Shop.
Shorty Kaller from Standard Machine in Glendale, Arizona, performed much of the hot rodding on the 348ci "W" motor, fed by dual Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs through an Offy manifold and tricked out with a bunch of finned components. A Muncie four-speed with Hurst linkage, controlled by the original '62 shifter, sends torque to a 12-bolt rear with 3.36:1 gears.
In lieu of another trip to Mexico, Nick delivered the Bel Air to Top Notch in Mesa, Arizona, for a first-class interior job. The '62 Super Sport seats, rear bench, side panels, visors, and trunk were finished in white vinyl tuck 'n' roll by Gil Curley in Mesa. White vinyl also covers the Billet Specialties Classic steering wheel. Gauges are from Mooneyes, and door handles, window cranks, and armrests were provided by Big Al's.
Nick calculates the total cost of his custom bubbletop at approximately 15 times the bill for the one he bought new. That's called appreciation, which has also been expressed in the form of a bunch of awards from Goodguys, KOA, and KKOA events. Add to that the appreciation of driving an updated, much-modified version of the car he loved as a kid.