'53 Bel Airflow Shelby : Rusty ol American dream! Pg 17!

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In 1953 my dad took his second teaching job in a new town, about three times the size of the school district where he was previously employed. To celebrate this, he went out and bought his first ever new car, a 1953 Chevy Bel Air.

The car was his biggest investment ever, to that point in his life. He had served 2 years in the Navy during WWII after he graduated from high school, gone to college on the GI bill, received his 4 year bachelor's degree (first and only member of his family to do so) and had launched his teaching career in 1950. He was still single, but at the teacher orientation in the Fall of '53, he caught the eye of a new grade school teacher as the new teachers were introduced. The rest, as they say, is history.

This 1953 Shelby Airflow frame is from the last year of the Shelby Co. produced Shelbys. I picked it up on the 'bay in 2019 and had planned to use it last summer, before my mind's eye caught the Spectra-flame idea of RaTs GaSs, that is. So it has been hanging in the BACK40 since, gathering dust and ideas.

Today I am travelling to my hometown to visit my mom, who has been single since my dad's passing for 13 yrs now. She is doing very well, but the month of May is always a significant time for her with Mother's Day and my dad's birthday both landing in this month. We will spend the day reminiscing, planting some flowers, and probably digging out the photo albums as we look fondly on the past, and press on confidently into the future.

Dad's 53 chev.jpg


The farm boy showing off his new car on a Friday night drive back home to the family farm.

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RaT oN~!
 

kingfish254

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Cool story, cool car, cool bike!!!
Have fun with moms!
Hard to go wrong with a Durante Shelby Springer.
 
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I love that Dad put on a pressed suit for the Friday night drive, what's the point of new wheels if you aren't looking tight?

"Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don't know where I am goin' to
Silk suit, black tie, I don't need a reason why
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man-
 

furyus

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Great pic of your dad. My dad had a ‘53 too. Great looking cars. So what’s the story with “The Bismark?” Love how it’s misspelled and has a happy little curl of smoke from the stack. Fascinated by that ship when I was a kid as well.

furyus
 
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I'm in!
I love that Dad put on a pressed suit for the Friday night drive, what's the point of new wheels if you aren't looking tight?

"Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don't know where I am goin' to
Silk suit, black tie, I don't need a reason why
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man-
School teachers dressed that way in the '50s. In fact, my dad didn't wear a 'colored'shirt till the '80s to school.
 

Captain Awesome

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My dad had a 54 Chevy Business. I'll be following :thumbsup:
 
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Great pic of your dad. My dad had a ‘53 too. Great looking cars. So what’s the story with “The Bismark?” Love how it’s misspelled and has a happy little curl of smoke from the stack. Fascinated by that ship when I was a kid as well.

furyus
Not sure where The Bismark comes into play. No worries though, it will soon be erased.
 
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Great story, men always dressed well back then. Love the frame and fork combo.
Funk, my dad always looked good. We would be in the middle of a big task, fixing a tractor or painting a fence, or planting seedlings, and if he had to go into town for a part or more paint, he would splash water on his face and hair, comb it and make sure his shirt was tucked in and go.

He only wore jeans on rare occasions. Cotton work pants were his thing when not in the classroom. Or white 'painters pants', which he wore often in the summer at his second job. We worked hard, and we played hard in our family. Dad always made time for both.
 
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My initial ideas for this Shelby Airflow build were based around an old hot rod look; fenderless, whitewalls, and keep the patina and maybe add a little surreal rust myself. Then, this past week, another idea struck for more of a custom rod with fancy paint scheme, still the whitewalls, and a blacked-out parts look.

After I pulled the frame down off the wall on Friday, aka RRB BO Eve, and examined it more closely, I found this serial number plate and did some investigating about the Shelby Co, or in this instance S H E L C O, brand and labeling.
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The Shelby Bicycle Co. is not known for their accurate serial number codes, but the "No. 53" is identified as the label for the year 1953, their last in that location under that ownership.

That year reminded me of my dad and his '53, and that photo we had archived off of the many thousands of slides that my dad had taken on his 35mm camera in the '50s - '70s. Now my bend is to go the way of shiny, and try to bring out some of those traits of that fabulous '50s design in the Bel Air. We shall see.

This April I came back to work at my local bike shop, the start of my 33rd season as a bike shop employee either part-time or full-time. Just a couple days a week this year, enough to keep me relevant for all things bicycle, and to get inside scoop on parts through our main vendor Trek Bicycle Corp / Electra Bikes. Found a pair of Electra Delivery wheels in the dark corners of the Trek warehouse and picked them up. Shimano Nexus 3 spd rear hub, and a cool and unique Shimano Power Modulator hub in the front; designed for the Shimano Roller brake.

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My tires are an Electra Retrorunner 26 x 2.125 in the front, and a Deli 26 x 2.35 in the rear.


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RaT oN~!
 
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One of the aspects I've always enjoyed about this Forum, and the Build Offs, is resourcing parts that are actually produced by members on this site. One of my favorites that I have used as my 'go to' for laid-back seat posts is Chad Morgan, owner and operator of Chop Shop Customz.

They produce custom bars, seat posts, BB's shells, and even frames. His solid steel seat posts are the best I've found anywhere! Check out his facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ChopShopCustomBicycles

Once again this year, I will be using a 'Chad post' on my build. Had to file the top of the inside of the seat tube on the ol' '53, and loosen up the seat clamp, but with some grease applied it is now a part of my RRB BO 16 build!

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RaT oN~!
 

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