We had the opportunity to meet with and interview some of the attendees at this year’s 2020 Detroit Autorama. When you talk to the car builders and owners you understand the true passion behind all of these amazing automobiles. One of the car builders we had the pleasure to chat with is Craig. Craig is the proud owner of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. This head-turning hot rod has a 383 stroker with automatic transmission, a custom Art Morrison chassis, custom interior and Kindig-it door handles.
Our interview with Craig is a perfect example of the passion behind the car. Hear the enthusiasm as Rick gets the scoop on his awesome custom-built 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
Rick: This is Rick Drewry, I’m with Classic Auto Insurance at Detroit Autorama. I’m here with Craig from Top Fuel Garage, and they brought to us a beautiful 1955 Chevy Bel Air. Now, Craig, you’ got to tell me a little bit, how long did it take to build this? Because, I can tell there’s a heck of a lot of work in it.
Craig: Yeah, a whole lot of work. About two and a half years we spent on it getting the build done and getting it off to SEMA last year for 2019.
Rick: Okay. So, it did get displayed at SEMA as well.
Craig: It did, it was at SEMA. This is its third outing. SEMA, and then last week at World of Wheels in Milwaukee. It was our own backyard. We took it out and showed its ass a little bit, and then brought it up here to show up for Detroit Steel Wheel Company.
Rick: Very cool. Yeah, and this is a show to bring it out to. Yes.
Craig: Yeah. Yeah, especially show out for them. So, we’re happy to have it out here.
Rick: Okay. Well now, you got to tell me a little bit, what kind of condition was this car in when you got it?
Craig: It came out of a field in Kansas City. Yeah, yeah, it was the chassis and the body and somebody’s project. They kind of already started it. So, the owner thought he was getting in pretty good as far as what he found, but when we got the body off, the chassis-
Rick: Yeah. You were finding stuff.
Craig: That’s when we found the chassis.
Craig: The chassis had been dinged up at one point, so that set us down the road of finding a donor chassis. By the time we started looking for locations, we called Art Morrison.
Rick: I was going to ask, did you just pull the trigger?
Craig: We pulled the trigger.
Craig: Yeah, yeah. We pulled it in a major. Actually, at that point, the budget was good, but when the powder coating happened to the Art Morrison, we knew we were past it.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. You had to do it.
Craig: Yep, yep.
Rick: All right. Now, what color scheme is this?
Craig: This is a graphite gray and then just the black on top with some underlays. That, I’m not allowed to tell you.
Rick: Oh, that’s okay. Trade secret. Yeah, that’s all right.
Craig: Yeah. Yep, yep.
Rick: What kind of drivetrain? I see it’s an LS, but…
Craig: Yeah, LS3, just a 383 Stroker hooked to an automatic transmission. So, nice and drivable for the owner. Yeah, just a fun, fun ride all the way around.
Rick: I know you went with Art Morrison, what kind of breaks do you have, suspension?
Craig: Norwood all the way around. Then as far as the suspension, we hooked up a QA1 on all of that stuff. Yep. So, we’re happy. Yeah, she’s super. Rides great. We’ve had it out a little bit.
Rick: Cool. Just a little bit.
Craig: We had to make sure the wheels were tight.
Rick: That’s right. Well, you got to break them in a little.
Craig: Yeah. Right, right. Absolutely. So no, I was super happy.
Rick: Looks like you got some Kindig-It door handles.
Craig: Yeah. I don’t know if we can walk around it and do this, but I can give you a tour of the car too if you guys want to. Yeah.
Rick: Let’s try that. Yeah, come on. Craig’s giving us a tour, so let’s see what happens.
Craig: Right, right. We do have the Kindig-It door handles. Sent in from Baylee Kindig-It herself, so we were super happy with those.
Rick: Very cool.
Craig: Yep, our Eddie Motorsports billet stuff, they hooked it up on this one for us.
Rick: Check out the interior.
Craig: Full custom interior. If you get a chance, shoot the headliner, because everybody misses it.
Rick: You build the console?
Craig: Yes, the center console was all custom built by us. Yeah, the staff up there in Milwaukee. We were happy to get it out here and show it off.
Rick: Okay. I’ll tell you what, this doesn’t look black on top.
Craig: It’s the light.
Rick: I know you’re not going to tell me.
Craig: Here, I’ll show you.
Rick: But, the gray, I mean, it’s great.
Craig: Yeah, the gray. Different…
Rick: But then you look at it this way, it’s black.
Craig: Yeah, you get it in another light, you get it outside as black.
Rick: No, that’s cool. Yeah. No, I can see it.
Craig: This car in the sunlight is ridiculous.
Rick: All right.
Craig: But no, outside, she’s black. Inside, she’s that off.
Rick: Now, who did the upholstery for you?
Craig: Oh, it was a guy out of Waterford, Wisconsin, Inside Rides.
Rick: Okay, all right.
Craig: Yep, yep. So, we’ve got another ’55 going on in the body shop as we speak for-
Rick: I was going to say, what’s your next build?
Craig: We met a gentleman out at SEMA and he had a ’55 he’d been dying to get built.
Craig: 13 years, it was on the shelf in a warehouse. He’s interviewing builders, saw this thing and fell in love, and we were home from SEMA two or three days and got confirmation he was shipping it to us from Maryland. So, we got that going on right now. Follow that on Facebook.
Rick: There you go. Very good.
Craig: So, follow along. We have a lot of fun. Sponsors are giving stuff away, so we call it Free Hat Friday, stuff like that. We have a lot of fun with it, but the build’s going on live as we speak.
Rick: Okay. All right. Well, I can tell you, you guys do really good work. I mean, really good.
Craig: Right, right. Yeah. This is Bettie Mae and the new one’s Phyllis. We’re kind of dubbing as Bettie Mae’s big little sister.
Rick: Why not? Why not?
Craig: That one, they shoved an LT4 in.
Rick: Oh, very cool. Yeah.
Craig: Yeah, yeah. You can have some fun with that one. The owner’s all about, same way, drive ability.
Craig: All these vehicles will be on the streets, so we have fun with them.
Rick: That’s the way you got to build them. Build them and drive.
Craig: Thank you. Yep, yep. Absolutely.
Rick: Well, awesome work, Craig.
Craig: Thank you, thank you.
Rick: Your shop does great work, man.
Craig: Thank you.
Rick: Looking forward to seeing the next right.
Craig: Sounds good. All right, perfect.
Rick: Thanks, man.
Craig: Sounds good, thanks for stopping by.
Craig: Awesome I got to show you guys.
Rick: You too.
Craig: Thank you.
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