An old wives' tale that started circulating as soon as the new 1959 Chevrolets hit the streets set out to doom this new styling from the beginning. It stated that the cars had a bad habit of lifting off the ground in the rear at high speeds because of the large horizontal tailfins. A small grasp of simple physics would never let you believe this tale, but it has survived nonetheless. Another even more preposterous myth has to do with the physical damage the same tailfins inflicted on many an unsuspecting pedestrian. The damage was everything from a cut to stories of vehicular homicide. None of these "tales" have ever been proven to be factual.
For Jerry and Cheryl Krob, the only flying their '59 Chevy Bel Air is known for is down the highway with all four wheels firmly planted on the pavement. But a perfectly sound craft is not how Jerry first found his finned flyer. Through a tip from his brother-in-law, Jerry went to check out a car that was supposedly "ready for paint." All that description meant was that the car had been hastily sprayed in primer. Jerry also found that the floors, especially inside the trunk, were almost nonexistent. The seller wasn't all that car savvy, and after teaching him a good lesson in car condition, Jerry took home the Chevy for one-third of the original asking price (and still felt like he might have overpaid).
Jerry drove the '59 home with its tired 283 and immediately tore into the project. With some help from his friend, Richard Beeton, Jerry crafted all new floorpans and a trunk lip completely from scratch. While the body was getting its share of attention, Jerry upgraded the drivetrain with an owner-built four-bolt main 350ci backed by an automatic overdrive he picked up at a garage sale. The chassis was next on the upgrade list and it too received its fair share of Jerry's attention. Jerry's plan called for rebuilding and upgrading the factory design, keeping it as simple and cost-effective as possible.
With the chassis and body cancer taken care of, Jerry prepped the long and lean bodywork and sprayed the Guards Red paint himself. The eye-popping paint is accented by silver powdercoating on the bumpers, grille, and side trim for a great low-maintenance finish.
Jerry can do a lot, but when the build required some stitchwork, he had to turn the car over to someone else, and Scott Downey matched the quality of the owner's hard work with a stunning tan leather stitch job over a pair of '97 Cadillac bucket seats and custom-built door panels.
Jerry and Cheryl made a great addition to the '05 running of our Asphalt Ego-Rama, and they were thrilled just to be a part of the competition with their car that would make any owner/builder proud to call their own.
Jerry and Cheryl Krob
1959 Chevy Bel Air
Built to be a cruiser, the driveline is mild enough for comfortable long-legged jaunts but can be quickly woken for spirited blasts when the mood strikes. The heart of this performance package is an owner-built 350ci mill that started with a freshly machined '79 four-bolt main block that was filled with a set of TRW slugs and a COMP Cams bumpstick. Closing up the package is a pair of GM cast-iron heads, a four-barrel carb, and aluminum intake and an HEI ignition system. The power is passed to the stock rearend via a 700-R4 transmission.
Keeping everything close to stock with a few well-planned upgrades makes the underpinnings easy to maintain and as reliable as "Ol' Faithful." Mindful modifications include McGaughy 2 1/2-inch dropped spindles with 11-discs up front, a Corvette dual master cylinder, and a GM variable ratio steering box. Proper stance is set by reworked springs on both ends. Gabriel gas shocks on all four corners smooth out any imperfections encountered along the open highway.
Wheels & Tires
Timeless good looks in the wheel department are supplied by a set of 17x7 and 18x10 American Racing Torq Thrust rims spinning a set of 245/45ZR17 and 295/45ZR18 Nitto NT555 tires.
Body & Paint
While the body left much to be desired when Jerry first encountered it, he felt up to the challenge and immediately upon arrival in his shop, the tin started flying and rusted panels were quickly replaced with fresh ones. Once the bodywork was again sound, Jerry sprayed on the smooth coat of Guards Red paint and dressed it up with silver powdercoated trim and bumpers.
Tan leather upholstery by Wichita stitcher Scott Downey is the only portion of the build not handled by owner Jerry. Comforts for cruising include '97 Cadillac buckets, Vintage Air climate control, and tunes from a Kenwood system. Auto Meter gauges provide the vital information and a LeCarra steering wheel atop a Chevy van tilt lets Jerry keep the '59 pointed in the right direction.