John Provenzano’s incredible custom ’56 Bel Air wows at the shows, and brings home the trophies!
Owned by John Provenzano #21339896, Wichita, KS
Photography by Colin Date
I never thought I would be writing about one of my cars for Chevy Classics. This has been a dream of mine for decades. When my classic car addiction began (I was 15), I would read the car magazines and wonder what it would be like to have a truly unique automobile. I never thought it would happen. More recently, in my adult life, I also never thought I would have yet another project car! I already have 1955 and 1957 Bel Air convertibles; and they both took a lot out of me. I thought I was done! However, I’ve had significant influences…
My builder, Mark Bauer, and my three children thought it would be a great idea to have three Tri-5 convertibles, one of each year– I am sure my kids have ulterior motives! My wife (thankfully) has never complained about my classic car addiction. So I called Bob Dietzler to locate a 1956 convertible with a known history. He found me a one-family owned ’56 Bel Air convertible out of New Jersey. I was a little bit concerned about excessive rust, however he had good photos of the car prior to its marginal restoration. So the project began in November of 2011 and was completed in February of 2015. My only two requests to my builder were to use the original frame and to not cut up the body, otherwise I wanted him to think out of the box. He sure did! (more…)
Owned by John and Mary Sue Bedenbender #13054460, Mount Vernon, TX
photography by Colin Date
Right out of college, I shopped for a new 1962 Impala at “Grandpa” Mohr Chevrolet in downtown Dallas. The salesman handed me the keys to a 409, 4-speed SS Impala, and said to take it for a drive– no salesman present! Needless to say, I enjoyed the test drive. I wanted that car but simply could not afford the extra several hundred dollars it cost versus the 327, 3-speed Impala I ended up buying. We sold that Impala sometime in the ’70s, and typical story– years later we wished we had kept it.
Even though I built several other cars over the years, it was always in the back of my mind to someday do a ’62 Impala. I bought this ’62 at a swap meet in 2001, and it sat until 2005. It had more body damage and rust than I first thought– lots of repairs to do before the real modifications could begin.
My plan was to make the car look different than original, but still obviously a ’62 Impala. I wanted to make some body modifications that I visualized; refine and clean up unattractive seams, pinch welds and open holes that were inherent in a production vehicle of that time. (more…)
This right hand drive 1962 Impala Sport Sedan represented top-of-the-line luxury downunder
Owned by Carl L. Kelsen, Victoria, Australia
Photography by John Frostell
Do you believe that only coupes and convertible body styles qualify as collector cars? If you do, then as a Chevrolet enthusiast for over 50 years, I find this opinion difficult to understand. Thirty-five years ago when I was looking for my Impala, I ignored Impala convertibles and coupes for sale because I preferred the look of a 4-door hardtop.
Chevrolet has offered a variety of body styles, and today we are fortunate to see so many restored 2-door models at car shows. Conversely, it’s unfortunate that so few 4-door hardtop examples survive. It’s worth remembering that Chevrolet produced 4-door hardtops for just 20 years– 1956-1976.
In 1962, Chevrolet sold more than a million cars and managed to break worldwide sales and profit records. Of course, the majority of these sales were made not in foreign countries like Australia, but in Chevrolet’s home territory– the U.S.A. In the U.S., Chevrolet was the people’s car. Americans could buy a new one for about one-third of their average annual income. Even a heavily optioned Impala was well within the financial reach of most Americans. The situation in Australia was very different. (more…)