A Bay Area Original – Kirk and Elaine Jennings’ 1957 Chevy Bel Air
In our opinion the Sierra Gold/Adobe Beige color combo of the 1957 Chevy Bel Air is one of the most appealing color combinations to ever be offered by an American auto maker. If it has a sleek stance and local history, all the better. You’re looking at Kirk and Elaine Jennings’ latest and greatest collectible – a classic cruiser that checks all the right boxes. It wears its 62 year old patina well.
Like most old classics, it has a great story to tell. Dewayne King of Martinez, California bought this Sierra Gold stunner many years ago from his family for $250 bucks! It sat covered in Dewayne’s garage since 1975 only being used once in those 43 years as the honeymoon car for his niece. The original owner was a man named Charlie Porter who bought it new from Parker Robb Chevrolet in Walnut Creek, CA.
It was assembled at the long defunct GM “Oakland Assembly” – the first automobile plant in Northern California. This Bel Air is San Francisco Bay Area through and through.
Sadly, Dewayne passed away in December of 2016, the 1957 Chevy still covered and sitting in the garage. But it’s journey was far from over. Enter Kirk Jennings, who had met and befriended Dewayne one day in 2013 at Sears Point Raceway. They instantly hit it off, sharing their east bay roots and passion for racing and customizing cars. In the spring of 2017 five months after Dewayne’s passing, Kirk asked Dewayne’s daughter Allison if he could buy it and put it back on the road as a tribute to Dewayne. Not only did the sale happen, Allison and Kirk keep in touch regularly, connected by the familial bond of the old Chevy. She even spots him around town and sends him a smiley text to let him know it’s lookin’ good going down the road. Better yet, Allison was able to attend the Autumn Get-Together and ride with Kirk and Elaine on Sunday as they accepted the Fuel Curve Pick.
As you see it, the Bel Air is perfectly appointed for new Millennium hot rodding yet with old school flare. The factory 283/4bbl engine (complete with power pack cylinder heads) was gone through meticulously and freshened. With only 80k original miles on the clock, it was a relatively lite freshening. The power glide transmission engages just as it did in ’57. The interior is mint.
The “make a grown man cry” stance was achieved by tried and true methods. To get it to the desired ride height, Kirk “cut the coils” and installed one-inch lowering blocks out back. No need for a fancy schmansy hi-dollar chassis. For the rear suspension he went with reverse eye Posies leaf springs. Air shocks cushion the inevitable California potholes. Underneath the Tri-Five, the entire underside was painted PPG satin black. It’s as clean as the sunny side.
Now about the wheels. They are 1953 15”x6” Buick Skylark wires and they are spot on! Kirk had Gary McLean of Rally America completely rebuild them then re-chrome them before adding new stainless spokes. They make all the difference when it comes to a sexy profile only enhanced by the thin white stripe tires.
Everything on the car was locally sourced from private collections or swap meets or simply word of mouth. Growing up in 1970s Northern California, Kirk has always been plugged into the local classic car and custom car communities. You might remember his pearl and flaked yellow ’62 Cad we featured in the Goodguys Gazette back in 2015.
Kirk and Elaine drive their cars and their beautiful 1957 Chevy Bel Air is no exception. It has graced all of the Bay Area backroads and interstates while carrying the King family legacy with it wherever it goes.
It’s a neighborhood favorite and as you all know, that is how the seed gets planted. Some teenager riding by on his bicycle will be stopped dead in his tracks by that twinkling chrome. His eyes widen, his heart pounds and he gets bitten. That is how we become car people.