One of our Danish Club Members has a big passion for the iconic ’57 Bel Air
By Owner: Morten Gadegaard Holstebro, Denmark photos by MINGO Photo
My interest in American cars started a long time ago. At the age of seventeen, I bought my first U.S. car. It was a 1964 Chevrolet Bel Air and the year was 1984. Due to Danish law, I was not able to drive it before I turned 18. In the meantime I got the car fixed up and ready for the road.
About the same time clubs for American cars were starting in Denmark, in Holstebro (where I live) we also started a club and named it after the famous boulevard in LA; Van Nuys. Lots of fun began for 10-15 young members of Van Nuys Car Club, and the hobby grew fast over the years. Today the club counts about 160 members and over 125 cars. www.VAN-NUYS.DK
When U.S. car meets started in our country– cruises and shows became a part of my life. In Sweden they were (and are still are) way ahead of Denmark when it comes to the U.S. car hobby. In the summertime we often went to some of their big car meets with up to 6,000 American cars. We were amazed, and compared to meets in Denmark with up to 150 cars, there was quite a difference. Today, the local meets in Denmark attract up to 1,000 cars, while the Power Big meet in Sweden is among the biggest in the world with up to 20,000 cars.
After a year in my ’64 Bel Air, I had laid my eyes on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door hardtop. It had always been my dream car, and suddenly I was cruising in a Harbor Blue ’57 Chevy.
The car was in very good driver condition and I took it to many shows and meets over the years. I also dated my future wife in that car! In 1988 I became a member of CCI and was able to read about my fellow members all over the world. Receiving that monthly magazine has over the years been delightful and still is. When it shows up in the mailbox my wife and kids know that I am out of reach before I have read the magazine.
A lot of parts have been provided by the club, and all the articles in the magazine have kept the flame burning. Over the years I have often thought that perhaps I should send in a story, telling that we do have a lot of U.S. cars in Denmark, now I think it’s time to do so.
The 1957 Chevrolet became my favorite car, and I started to collect all the giveaway showroom items from ’57: banners, paper bags, napkins, cups, perfume, etc., also any literature that found its way to Denmark. It was before the Internet, which made it a bit more complicated, but perhaps also more fun.
In 1992 I went to the International Classic Chevy meet in Pleasanton, CA. At that meet I saw a lot of frame-off restored cars, and many other fine vehicles. Parts and accessories went in my luggage, and the dream of buying a frame-off restored convertible went home with me too. I knew that dream had to wait awhile, but it was there for many years.
Finally in 2006, my dream came true. A Harbor Blue frame-off restored example loaded with accessories came for sale in Knoxville, TN. The car was exactly what I wanted. Pictures, lots of emails, and some negotiation went on before I flew to Tennessee and saw the car. I was not disappointed. The moment I saw that ’57 I knew that it had to come home to Denmark with me.
The car is completely immaculate. The restoration was originally done for Ron and Gene Gad by Don Trivett of Volunteer Classic Chevy Parts. Work was also done by Steve Dickson, Ray Eller, and Gary Lenard.
Mr. Gad wanted the car to be correct in every way; hours have been spent on small details and nothing was spared in the frame-off process. Mr. Gad passed away and that was the only reason the car became available for sale. I drive it to meets and conventions in Denmark and Sweden. The car won numerous awards in the U.S. and now also in Europe. Note the license plate Ø157. Ø it is one of the three capitols we have extra in the Danish alphabet (Æ Ø Å ).
Personally I have added a few more NOS accessories, such as an Autronic Eye and third note horn, which I bought from Wendell Snowden (former president of CCI). Also I have added an NOS odometer that registers in kilometers. In Denmark we don’t use miles.
The Fuelie is a recent purchase– it is probably one of the finest restoration jobs I have ever seen on a ’57 Chevrolet. It is detailed down to the smallest nut, overspray underneath, factory correct markings, etc.
Jeff Steinmentz and his father purchased the car in 1985 and had it ready in 1996 to show at the national level. The car did very well, and was the two-time winner of the SoffSeal Attention to Detail Award, a CCI winner in Florida, and much more.
Many NOS parts went into this car– all stainless, bumpers, and Continental Kit. The engine, fuel injection unit, and all the fittings etc., are correct date-stamped for the car. It is believed to be from Florida originally; one of the 68 convertibles made with fuel injection.
My plans for the car are to enjoy it and trailer it around, perhaps add a few accessories.
About my cars: If anyone out there has some information on my cars, previous owners, photos or anything, I would very much appreciate that info. Thank you.
My e-mail is Morten@Herning-Laaseservice.dk
Shop for Tri-5 Chevy parts at www.ClassicChevy.com
Follow us on our Tri-5 Facebook page. Click here and Like us!