When you hop into one of these cars you know something different is going on!
General Motors designed and developed a range of family cars in the mid-fifties that went on to be known as ‘America’s favourite cars’, and they hold up today as desirable enthusiast and collector automobiles that represent the social and political optimism of the times, expressed in the engineering, styling, materials and craftsmanship that is evident from travelling within them – either behind the wheel or as a passenger.
It’s all about the colours, the chrome, the ride, the visibility, the space, the white wall tyres, and the gentle beat of those old-school V8 motors … moving you along the highways, laneways, avenues and streets of dreams, when nostalgia was still a thing for the future.
Guests driving with us initially are greeted by the sight of green (lots of) with the additional ornamentation that comes with the cars being Bel Air (deluxe) models. Then there is the feel of the doors, nice and heavy thanks to the gauge of Detroit steel used through out – they close with a nice sounding ‘thunk’. The colourful interior (also in green) adds to the feeling of another era as you sink into the bench seats – spaced for three passengers in the rear and another in the front. Then there are sounds – the period-correct jazz, R&B, early soul, Latin and a bit of rock ‘n roll, followed by the ignition start – there’s a bit of a rumble. The ride in both cars is gentle and soft – suspension does its thing and the soft tyres even out the little bumps. For the temperature conscious folk there is heating for the colder months and the rest of the time … well … we just roll the windows down and let Mother Nature do some work – that’s what these pillar-less cars are designed for! On the road everyone inside gets a good look out, since there is so much glass everywhere – it’s the perfect sight-seeing vehicle. Overall, a big part of the experience of a d’Luxe tour comes from just travelling in the cars … but we’ll make sure you get out a little bit along the way to round things out.
The four-door pillarless sedan was a first for 1956 and provided a stylish low-roof option for care-free travel – roll all the windows down for a fresh, wind-in-your-hair driving experience. This example was purchased in 2017 from a gentleman in Grand Rapids, Michigan and brought to Australia via a wonderful road trip holiday by John Frostell and his sons mid-2018. The car had undergone partial restoration some years ago and has since had further works to complete the process and create an even and comfortable presentation front to back. With easy access via its four doors, the car is the perfect choice for a group of up to four guests and is set for travel in all weather conditions.
The two-door pillarless coupe was modeled on the fashionable (yet impractical) convertible, hence the common two-tone treatment of the roofs and absence of door and window pillars for the open driving experience. This example was purchased from Los Angeles in the 1980s by (then young) John Frostell with the intention to turn it a daily driver car. Of course plans change, and upon sighting the car it was decided to take the imposing piece of ‘Detroit iron’ through a complete restoration and bring it completely to factory standards, just as it had left the dealership back in the day. Completed in 2013, the car has featured in car shows, magazines and TV programs and has also been used in promotions, music videos and the like. A highlight of its early days on the road was a first prize win in the Australian Chevrolet Car Club national concours. With access to the front and rear via the same doors, the car is best suited for couples and those with a nimble step! And due to the finish of the vehicle, inside and out, the car is only made available for fair weather driving – it does not enjoy getting wet! Either way, this 57 Chevrolet represents the pinnacle of driving within these classic American cars.