1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

A Four Wheel Memorial
Article and photos by Larry Crain
Additional photo provided by Stephanie Sanchez

This article is about how a family is using a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air as a rolling memorial to a father that was a great car builder and a well-loved man throughout the automotive community along the Gulf Coast. Doug Brock of LaPlace, Louisiana passed away in September of 2016 and will always be remembered as a man that loved to build cars and enjoyed driving them just as much. Over the years Doug built seven cars, and one of my favorites, a 1933 Packard, convertible now resides in a museum.

This 1956 Chevrolet was built by Doug in 2006 and driven until 2009 when he sold it after completing his last car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. The 1956 Chevy was sold to fellow hot rodder and auto enthusiast Kenny Frederic from south Louisiana. Kenny was really proud of the car he had bought and kept it in a climate controlled garage while bringing it out only a few times over the years. After Doug passed away, Doug’s daughter Stephanie Sanchez and her husband Benny asked about buying the car back from him. After some negotiating Benny and Stephanie were able to buy the car and bring it home where it was to undergo some updating before they were ready to start cruising and showing the Bel Air as a memorial to her father at events they attended.

The beautiful red and white 1956 Bel Air, built and painted by Doug, rides on a GM chassis outfitted with a Heidts independent front suspension equipped with two inch drop spindles and rack & pinion suspension steering. The rear suspension is a Heidts four link equipped with coil over shocks and a Ford 9 inch rear end equipped with 3:73 gears. Stopping power for this beautiful car comes in the form of a complete Wilwood brake system. The Bel Air’s classic looks are complimented by a custom set of Billet Signature wheels by Boyd, 18’s on the front with 20’s on the rear.

The drivetrain starts out with a chromed out 385 horsepower 350 that is topped off with an Edelbrock intake and carburetor. At the time the car was built, Doug’s transmission of choice was a GM 700R4 that is perfect for cruising or occasionally hitting the “go fast” pedal. All of the new chrome and polished aluminum, along with body color matched inner fenders, were done by Doug’s son, Rickey at Brock's Automotive & Tire Center in Reserve, LA. How appropriate that the 1956 Bel Air Doug had built in that very shop should come full circle back to the same shop to be worked on by his son.

The beautiful leather interior of the car was done by Ronnie Frederick, owner of Airline Glass and Upholstery in Gonzales, Louisiana. The painted dash features a new Dakota Digital gauge cluster, a painted Ididit steering column mounted with a leather wrapped Budnik steering wheel and finishing off the interior is a Vintage Air a/c system.

Benny and Stephanie’s first outing with the Chevy was to the Custom Cruisers Cruise Night in Metairie, Louisiana in October of 2016. This was the custom rod club Doug had belonged to for many years and had cruised many a mile with. Many of the people at the cruise night had attended Doug’s funeral just the month before when he had been laid to rest in a custom casket designed by Trey Ganem of Texas. This casket was designed to resemble the last car Doug had built and driven, a red 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Benny and Stephanie are slowly becoming more known in the custom and rod circle as they travel with their four wheel memorial to her father.

Manufacturers and shops used in the building of this car.

  • Airline Glass and upholstery
  • Brock’s Automotive
  • Boyds
  • Budnik
  • Dakota Digital
  • Edelbrock
  • Heidts
  • Ididit
  • Vintage Air
  • Wilwood
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