Meet Fritz Reich and his hand built 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. This car is so strikingly eye-catching – a serious “head-turner.”
Fritz is a machinist and fabricator by day, and moonlights as a hot rodder. A lifetime enthusiast who got his beginnings early on watching his father drag-race and helping him wrench on cars.
Little did Chevrolet know the successful year to be had in 1955. It was the first year they introduced the legendary small block, and of course, it was the first year for the venerable Tri-Fives. The ‘55 Chevy was a small car for its time, and would go on to supercharge the hot rod industry because of its capable platform and timeless styling.
The keen attention to detail is what makes Fritz’s car stand out in a sea of hot-rodded Bel Airs. Reich himself has constructed many of the parts on his Bel Air over the course of the build, a project that was 2 ½ years in the making.
One particular nuance we found really cool were the seats, out of a ‘98, and specifically selected for their headrest angle, they precisely match the angle of the rear window for an uninterrupted view of the car’s profile. Continuing with the interior, the entire center console, featuring a hidden diagnostic compartment accessible with the twist of a quarter, was custom-made by the man, himself.
A look into the engine bay revealed custom, polished aluminum valve cover inserts (also made by Fritz!) that sit atop an LS2 from a 2005 vehicle. Inside, the LS2 spins a hotter cam pushing exhaust through shaved heads into a custom-made 3-inch-back exhaust.
With the engine mods, the car dynos at 500 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque, all of which are spun via a Tremec 6-speed manual. Another unique feature, for sure…we loved seeing a good ol’ manual on the floor in a ‘55 Bel Air.
When you mention a ‘55 Bel Air, you picture a red one – that’s what we want, and that’s what Fritz has. A glossy and smooth red exterior is covered by factory chrome, of which Fritz has removed some for a cleaner profile.
The chrome Foose wheels bring out the best of the red paint, and that stance, ooh that stance. Fritz has achieved the perfect stance for a Bel Air hot rod with handbuilt suspension systems front and rear. Now, that’s a true hot rodder, but unlike some hot-rod-builder stereotypes, Fritz has built one excellent, fully functional and reliable car.
It’s not every day you see a build like this one that brings both modern and vintage prose.