Meet Shannon Leon, 36 year old, mother of two and proud owner of not one but two classic cars in the process of being restored by Anaheim Rod and Custom. This is the story of her and her 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. Shannon spends her day emerged in car culture, writing automotive insurance policies Monday-Friday for the past 16 years and her free time on Facebook chatting with like minded Car crazy individuals. It is on Facebook actually, that she came across Anaheim Rod and Custom as a potential shop to take on her projects.
“Matt was the only one willing to go out to the location to take a look at the cars to write a formal estimate,” Shannon explained. “It’s sad, but everyone didn’t seem interested in the project. I began to get worried, but then I met Matt and he was very enthusiastic about the Bel Air.” That is when she knew that she wanted Anaheim Rod and Custom to work on this project vehicle that is very near and dear to heart.
“The Bel Air was my dad’s car. As the story goes, I was two years old, in 1981, my father had seen the Bel Air for sale for $50 and bought it. When he got the car he held me in his arms and pointed at it and said when you are old enough this will be yours,” Shannon recalls. Shannon wasn’t always into classic cars however, most of her adolescence she sheepishly admits to being more interested in boys and her hair and makeup. “When he passed I knew it was something I had to do—get his cars running.”
When the car arrived to Anaheim Rod and Custom it hadn’t been driven in the past twenty years. The first few man hours were spent clearing out the cobwebs, cleaning the car, draining all the old fluids, flushing out the brake, fuel and cooling systems. Parts and components that were rusted and in disrepair were removed. This included rodding out, cleaning and pressure testing the radiator and installing a new water pump, thermostat and all new hoses and radiator cap in its place. After the fuel system and engine were flushed a new gas tank was installed. The existing manual transmission was removed and a new 700r4 overdrive transmission with flex plate and stall converter was put in its place along with a custom built cross member and new transmission cooler lines. The conversion involved switching transmission mounts, repairing and shortening the drive shaft as well as switching the steering column and converting it to work with the overdrive trans. The brake system was completely restored. A disk brake conversion was completed to work with the original style wheels. A disk brakes kit, rotors, loaded calipers, bearing seals, dust caps, spindle nuts, hoses, booster, master cylinder and new hard lines were installed separating the the front and rear brake systems. The drums were turned and new wheel cylinders, shoes and flex hoses were fitted on the ’55 with its new tires. The wiring harness on this project had to be pulled out and a Painless Wiring kit was put in its place along with a new battery, ignition switch. A new park/safety switch was integrated into the new wiring system. The gauge cluster and lighting was repaired also. The engine received a tune and timing and headers were repaired and coated before being placed back on the block. The team at Anaheim Rod and Custom got Shannon’s ’55 back on the road and delivered to her just about one week prior to the one year anniversary of her father’s death. An American Graffiti movie night delivery party was held at the shop in his honor because Shannon said that her dad described that movie as the story of his youth.
“My favorite thing about this car is that it was my dad’s”, Shannon explains. “I have memories of playing in the car pretending to race. Every time I get into that car I feel like he is right there. I love that rumble sound!” she continues. “We never got to go to a car show together in this car, so that is what I am looking forward to doing— showing it off. My dad would be thrilled that the cars are still here, we are still driving them, and that they mean something to us.”
Shannon has been enjoying driving her '55 to and from work. Her future plans for this 1955 Chevy Bel Air includes, redoing the upholstery and paint, showing the car at plenty of car shows and racing it!