“I wasn’t looking for one,” Jeremy Anderson told me about his 1961 Bel Air Sports Coupe. “I wanted a 1960 Impala. But a family friend had a relative who was selling it. His wife said he had to because he had too many cars.”
And so in the summer of 2005, Jeremy had himself a classic Bel Air Bubbletop.
I saw Jeremy’s Chevy on his @bagged_bubbletop Instagram account. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
But like all good hot rods, it’s not just about the looks.
Underneath the Bel Air’s generous hood is a 396 big block Chevy. It features an Edelbrock intake manifold and four-barrel carb. There’s an MSD electronic ignition lighting the intake charge, and headers and dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers taking care of the spent gases.
Originally equipped with a 283, the Bel Air still sports a stock Chevy radiator, but one with enough cooling capacity to handle the big block. Jeremy’s got a Turbo 350 automatic driving a solid axle rear end.
The combo works great, but a drivetrain upgrade is on Jeremy’s to-do list. “I want to upgrade to an LS-3 with a 4L70 transmission,” he told me.
Since he’s owned it, Jeremy has given a lot of attention to the Bubbletop’s suspension and brakes. A complete Ridetech suspension has been mounted to the Chevy’s X-frame. Tubular control arms and air springs replace the factory parts at all four corners. Front and rear sway bars keep the Bel Air flat in the corners.
And Jeremy sings the praises on the AccuAir Endo CVT air management system that keeps his suspension right where he wants it. CVT stands for compressor, valve, and tank and all these components are combined in one assembly. “I absolutely love it,” Jeremy said, “It’s whisper quiet, and gives a very clean looking installation. All you see is the tank.”
The brakes have been upgraded with CPP Big Brakes at all four corners. The power-assisted disk brakes use cross-drilled, gas slotted rotors – 13″ up front and 12” in the rear. Jeremy still using the factory manual steering box in his Bel Air.
Detroit Steel Wheel Company wheels are one of the great details that make Jeremy’s car really stand out. The wheels are painted the same color as the body, and have been fitted for the original factory hub caps, giving the car a clean look. Amazingly, the wheels are 18 x 8 in the front and 20 x 9 in the rear, yet still fit inside the wheel wells. Sumitomo tires were customized by Diamond Back Classic Radials for a retro look with modern performance.
Those wheels, and the Bel Air’s very straight and rust free body, have been repainted with the car’s original factory color, Jewel Blue. It’s the perfect color for the unique lines of the Bubbletop.
The Chevy’s interior keeps a stock look, with bench seats and a column shifter for the TH350. The previous owner recovered the seats with a custom tweed, but Jeremy wants to return the interior to a completely factory look in the future. There’s no air conditioning at the present time, but Jeremy may include that along with the LS swap later on.
The Bel Air was built originally in GM’s Los Angeles assembly line, but Jeremy acquired it in Washington state, where he and the Bel Air have spent most of their time.
In a bit of a homecoming for the Bel Air, Jeremy moved to Southern California about a year ago. He drives the Bubbletop regularly, and his Instagram posts show off not only his car, but the beautiful California scenery he’s been exploring while hitting the cruise-ins.
And since they’re in Southern California, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Bel Air is already a bit of a celebrity. Jeremy listed it on a web site called Vinty (www.drivevinty.com) where people can rent unique cars for photo shoots and promotional events, and his Bubbletop has already gotten some gigs.
As if beautiful looks and big block power weren’t already enough, Jeremy cemented the Bel Air’s GHR credentials when he told me, “Anything that’s done on this car, I do myself. I do all the work.” That’s why his Instagram posts have the hashtag #builtnotbought.
His determination to do his own work was tested when he had to replace the transmission by himself. In his garage. Without a lift. But he succeeded. “It’s all just nuts and bolts at the end of the day,” Jeremy said.
Maybe it wasn’t the car he was originally looking for, but with a combination of state-of-the-art suspension, big block Chevy power, and great looks, Jeremy’s clearly enjoying the hot rod his Bel Air has become.
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Anderson.
You can follow Jeremy on Instagram at @bagged_bubbletop
Click here to see more photos of Jeremy’s Bubbletop.