Baker Kirkpatrick’s ’52 Chevrolet Bel-Air

The Hot Rod hobby has undergone seemingly unlimited changes through the years from low riding customs with nothing but being cool and outrageous to stuffing the largest engine into the smallest and lightest body focusing strictly on how fast will it go. Muscle cars, Street rods, restorations and then the latest trend that has the best of all worlds, newstalia, yea, building what should have been built, a mix between new and nostalgia.

Baker Kirkpatrick of Gallatin, Tennessee has a perfect example with his ’52 Bel-Air. Taking a Hardtop DeLuxe, removing everything that shouldn’t have been, large hood ornament and badge, two piece windshield, antiquated suspension, six volt electrical system and a power plant that was everything but powerful, the blue flame (belch fire) inline six. 

Starting upfront with a Jim Weimer Mustang II IFS with tubular control arms and two inch drop spinals with eleven inch disc brakes. The rear was treated to a set of Posies dropped leaf springs being rolled around via a Nova ten bolt differential. The frame having been media blasted and powder coated and fitted with a Bob Drakes sixteen gallon fuel tank provides a sturdy reliable foundation.

Knowing full well that had the parts been available in 1952, Chevrolet would have put the 350 V8 engine under the hood and offered it with a four in the floor. So, Baker had Mike Frazier build him an M20 Muncie combined with all the pedal, bell housing and clutch system from a Camaro. With the four barrel carb and Street and Performance headers he found the horses to make it worthy of the Bel-Air name.

After months of building panels and fitting up the body Baker laid down some cool white / ghost gold pearl on the roof and wrapped the body in a custom PPG mix of MGB Sunglow Yellow paint. Vintage Glass provided the green tinted glass to give it that classic touch and provide the look that would have been had it been available.

The real prize is when you open the doors. Having owned a ’56 Bel-Air prior to his military service, Baker never lost the love for that timeless design. So, he contacted Ciadella Interiors and had them stitch the original ‘56 Bel-Air cloth with graphite leather into the stock ’52 seat covers along with making matching door panels. The custom covers were installed along with the German square weave carpet by Chuck and Allen Bennett. Bennett’s upholstery in Hendersonville, TN. also worked their magic with the matching pin hole headliner and custom trunk coverings. Owner built indash AC vents to make it look as if the ’52 left home with factory air and thanks to Autosound it has a hidden audio system with Sirius XM radio.

Having combined the best of the early and late fifties it wouldn’t have been complete without adding a little sixties flair so Baker decided to have it roll out on a set of Crager wheels smothered in redline Diamond Back Michelin tires. 195/65/15 on the front and 235/65/17 out back give a great stance and wonderful ride.

So, hot rod, custom, street rod, muscle car, classic, yea to them all and if the designers at Chevrolet in 1952 could have seen into the future, I imagine the Bel-Air just might have been unveiled a year earlier and headed into another direction with top styling trim, road course handling and performance engineering.

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