Classic, With a Twist

March 1, 2012
A group of Ohio Technical College students restored a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to look like a Hot Wheels car and gave it as a gift to Vic Edelbrock Jr., a champion for both students and cars.

This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is not your average restoration project.

Tom King is vice president of enrollment management and technical training at Ohio Technical College in Cleveland, where a group of students restored the car and modeled it after a Hot Wheels version of the vehicle. They gave it as a gift to the legendary Vic Edelbrock Jr., whose performance parts company, Edelbrock Corp., provided funding to the technical college to create the only racing program of its kind in the country. The program begins in the first quarter of 2012, and will train students to work for race teams and performance shops.

As a way of saying thank you, King wanted the students to get hands-on experience rebuilding a car they could give to Edelbrock.

“We found this vehicle, this model, and thought it would be cool to bring this car to life,” King says. “It was a tremendous experience for the students.”

So in April 2010, students and instructors began their work. The vehicle was in a “complete state of disrepair … it was a disaster,” King says. It had no trim, no interior. The dash was missing.

The Bel Air started in the classic car restoration program, and was passed around to different departments so students could get experience working on it. It was even included in the syllabi of some courses.

First the car needed metalwork and fabrication, which took months because of rust and body problems, King says. Dents and rust spots were removed, and metal for the body was shaped, formed and fixed. Fenders, bumpers and doors needed repair.

By November of 2010, King and the school’s students were ready to take the body, which was primed and on its frame, to SEMA in Las Vegas. They were also able to mount a new engine—an LS3 that makes 600 horsepower, with an Edelbrock Supercharger.

When the students came back from SEMA, the car needed reassembly and paint. It got a two-tone silver base with red on top and silver on the bottom. From there, King says, they worked on mechanical parts. They installed wiring harnesses, brakes, and steering, mechanical and suspension systems. They also installed upholstery, seats, carpet, gauges, trim for the dash, and pieces such as window seals and lights.

By May it was 85–90 percent complete. A group of three students (of about 10 total who worked on it) and King drove it out to a charity event that Edelbrock puts on each year, called Rev’ved-Up 4 Kidz. “The car garnered a lot of attention,” King says. “Students stayed on for three more days, and worked with Edelbrock folks on the engine, exhaust tubing and some of the mechanical work.”

In June and July, students tweaked the vehicle more, working on the high-performance engine, painting graphics to duplicate the Hot Wheels design, adding the Edelbrock name and number 23 on the side of the car. The car was road-tested, polished, buffed and finished for show time in October.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for our students to be involved with a project like this,” King says. “Certainly it raised the understanding of what schools like ours can do.”

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