Second-Chance Chevy – After Missing Their First Opportunity to Buy It, Jerry and Tara Patterson Ended Up With an Even Better ’63 Bel Air
It’s safe to say that every person reading this article has a story about “the one that got away.” Obviously, we’re not talking about fishing here, rather the cars and trucks many people have missed buying at some point or another. We all share memories of being the guy who called right after that great deal was already sold, or maybe deliberating too long only to have someone else swoop in to make the purchase.
Jerry Patterson is one of the rare examples of a second-chance case – someone who missed the deal the first time, only to be able to score the same car a couple years later. Back in 2018, the Jerry noticed a nice, clean ’63 Bel Air posted for sale on a website. He had been looking for a fun family cruiser to spend some time with his parents at car shows. He grew up around hot rods and also got involved in car audio shows, following the competitive circuit for a couple years. This included owning a number of tricked-out trucks, but you can’t pack your wife and two daughters into the cab of a pickup for a weekend cruise, especially one that’s packed full of audio gear.
The Bel Air that was for sale seemed like a perfect car for the Patterson family. It was purchased from the original owner in Arizona and brought to the Midwest by Matt Fontenetta and Bryan’s Auto Rebuilders, who stripped it down and painted it in a subtle Classic Clay from the Kindig-It color catalog. The interior was updated by Vos Upholstery, where they reworked the factory seats for comfort and stitched a caramel leather hide over them along with the door panels. A 383c.i. small-block was installed with a fresh 700-R4 transmission, making it a smooth highway cruisier with room for everyone.
Unfortunately, the car sold quickly and just wasn’t to be for Jerry. At least, not yet.
It turns out that the buyer was fellow Ohioan who placed the Chevy in the hands of Boris Maryanovsky and his team at Street Machinery in Euclid, Ohio. These guys have a knack for making full-size Chevys sit perfectly and deliver solid drivability over the road. They proceeded to update the suspension with an EZ Air Ride system along with Corvette disc brakes and their requisite Billet Specialties wheels – 18x8s in front and 20x10s in the rear.
The Street Machinery crew also went to work under the hood by installing a list of performance parts to the top end of the small-block and cleaning up the entire engine bay. An MSD Ignition provides the fire power for the air/fuel mixture passing through a Holley carb and polished Edelbrock intake. Sanderson headers expel the fumes to a 2.5-inch Flowmaster exhaust with a mild hot rod rumble. A classic oil bath air cleaner adds a vintage touch to the sanitary and simple engine compartment, which is finished in the same clay exterior color with satin black highlights.
The interior also received a few more updates, including a new instrumentation from Dakota Digital combined with a touch of bling via Billet Specialties handles, pedals, and steering wheel. The air suspension controls and gauges were centered under the dash in a custom panel for easy access to set the Bel Air down low while parked.
Once back in the hands of the owner, for some reason the Bel Air was swiftly traded for a Tri-five Chevy and shipped off to Oregon. Jerry had lost track of the car but remembered the one that got away and couldn’t believe his eyes when it popped up in Oregon during another online search for a family cruiser. This time he was ready, though making the transaction across the country with an inspection and shipping during the thick of Covid chaos proved to be a bit of a challenge.
It took a couple extra years, but Jerry was able to land the same ’63 Bel Air that he missed out on originally – and it was in even better condition than the first time. Since bringing it home, he’s been able to follow his folks in their ’47 Ford to a number of cruises and shows to make some new family memories. For Jerry, it seems that holding out for a second chance with this Chevy proved to be a winning strategy in the long run.
Photos by Jason Lubken