1957 Chevrolet Bel-AirHard-Top Coupe - ex Ringo Starr
- Year of manufacture1957
- Car typeCoupé
- Chassis numberVC570167756
- Lot number383
- Interior colourOther
- Number of seats4
- Exterior colourBlack
- Fuel typePetrol
Cleared in France (846A)
Chassis # VC570167756
- Exceptional and unique history
- Customised by the 'King of the Kustomizers' George Barris for Ringo Starr
- An American classic in a unique configuration
- Bel Air Ringo Starr for the brand Craig Stereo, customized by George Barris
This is not because Chevrolet is the most popular brand of General Motors that the group neglected it in the mid-1950s - in fact, it enjoyed a revival that gave it a more youthful and dynamic image. Obviously, the influence of Harley Earl, who then headed the famous "Art and Colour Studio" group, is felt and the new Chevrolet line is lower, longer and deliberately pushed into the modern era. Bel Air, which takes its name from one of the most prominent neighborhoods of Los Angeles, received the panoramic windscreen then very popular in Britain and was characterized by a large rectangular mesh grille, which was quite sober. The mechanicals were also completely new, and the engine's design, by Ed Cole, a V8 specialist who had already developed the Cadillac block. He designed a compact and lightweight motor, which used several tricks to reduce weight, such as replacing the rocker arm by a system of pins and shells. This V8 was given the "TurboFire" moniker and was a significant improvement over the previous six-cylinder in-line unit, which it far exceeded in power. And to meet the most demanding customers, it was even offered in 1957 the possibility of equipping the Corvette V8 with this engine, developing 283bhp.
The Bel Air rejuvenated, logically came with an aggressive slogan: "New look, new engine, new everything". There were several body variants (including the famous two-door Nomad station wagon), and from 1955 to 1957, the car kept being improved, before being replaced in 1958 by the next generation, which did not have the same charisma.
The car that we are offering is the latest version of the '55-'56-'57 trilogy, that is particularly popular with enthusiasts. Advertising slogans presented it as a car with a "peaceful mood that hides a fiery temperament", reflecting the mix of comfort and power that characterized this Bel Air. But this Bel Air is very, very special: it has been modified by George Barris, and it was then presented as the car for Ringo Starr...
Having a studio in Los Angeles, George Barris, known as the "King of the Kustomizers" had made a name for the transformations that he had done for the stars - either for a scene or movie - and the special cars made for both the big screen and television. The stars of the calibre of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Elton Jones, Sonny & Cher, John Travolta and John Wayne have all driven cars that came out his studio. For movies, Barris created specials such as the Mercury for Running Wild (1955), a 1956 Ford convertible for Hot Car Girl, provided cars for Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, one of the more spectacular one being the Batmobile for the television series, readied in 21 days. That car sold for US $ 4.6 million last year at an auction in the United States! Among the films in which his cars starred include Fireball 500, The Silencers, Knight Rider and Jurassic Park.
According to David Fetherston who devoted a book to the very unusual achievements of Barris, "In the automotive field, George did not like what was conventional. He was always looking for ways to improve, restyle and for new ideas. His imagination on four wheels - and the talent of the team that worked for him all these years - gave birth to a unique set of special machines for icons in the entertainment industry."
Bel Air Ringo Starr
The Craig Stereo Systems brand, a leader in hi- fi business in the United States, decided to develop a car with character, with a very high rating among the American love for a truly global rock star, Ringo Starr, the drummer of the Beatles! The 'Chevrolet Bel Air Ringo Starr' was entrusted to George Barris. Barris gave the car a much more dramatic and aggressive look by getting it painted in flames on the hood. He replaced the wheels with Cragar style rims and with side tailpipes, he let "free" the sound of the car to match the looks. He tacked on "Kustom Naughyde" yellow and black. Of course, the car was equipped with a Craig audio system with AM/FM/MPX radio-cassette player, amp Powerplay of 72 watts and Speakers Trans-Rib, to belt out the last of the Beatles songs.
Once completed, the car was photographed along with Ringo Starr for advertisements published in Hot Rod and Motor Trend, under the title "Win the Ringo Car", inviting readers to go to the closest Craig distributor and to register for the raffle to win this car. As mentioned by David Fetherston, this transformed Chevrolet Bel Air so pleased Ringo that he wanted one for himself, since the car was for the winner of the raffle. Barris then produced a convertible version modified with Corvette engine, "as fast as it looked!" Ringo visited Barris to thank him and shortly after, when he had spoken of his Barris Custom group members, John Lennon and Yoko came to the workshop to see the Ringo car. "One Sunday afternoon, I arrived at the workshop and a huge limo was parked outside. Dropping the smoked glass down I saw that it was John Lennon. We discussed the Ringo car Ringo," recalls George, "and I invited them to visit the workshop where they remained for some time, surrounded by the cars of films and projects."
Today, this Chevrolet Bel Air is the one for sale. Exceptional because it is linked to both: one of the world's most famous bands and the world of Hollywood through George Barris, and in addition a car that cannot go unnoticed. Piece of custom quality, it is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from George Barris. With the cassette connected to the amp 72 watts, the new owner can easily imagine themselves in the shoes of a star, strolling o, Hollywood Boulevard and will surly win all competitions of customs and Rock 'n' Roll!