The iconic second-generation Chevrolet Bel Air is one of the most popular and sought after muscle cars for car collectors and automotive restoration enthusiasts. From 1950 to 1975, this full-size car was dominating the premium segment of the market attracting buyers with its unique design and luxurious trim options. These are the reasons why so many fully preserved and well-maintained Bel Airs survived to this day.
When we saw the first picture of this menacing blacked-out 1956 Chevy Bel Air nicknamed a Matte-Black Unicorn, we were skeptical at first. It didn’t seem real at the first glance. The car looks like a render from a video game. Such an automobile could be a vehicle of choice for some badass gangster. But, as it turned out, it is very real. Internet is flooded with new videos of this mean machine rolling on the streets and turning heads at car shows.
The vehicle’s owner, Matt, being a family man, was looking specifically for a 4-door sedan, even though 2-door Bel Airs are more common in the custom mods scene. In 2009, he found one in Pleasanton, California, and bought it with a road rallying project in mind. It was in good running condition with perfect lines between body panels featuring the classic black and red color scheme. He was even able to drive it back home to Orange County. Two years later Matt blew the stock 350 small-block engine and thus the complete teardown began. Planning to install a larger motor, Matt knew that he needed to get a beefier chassis, but he decided to keep the original frame and simply reinforce it.
To fit the crate AMA 525 horsepower LS3 engine, the owner had to cut the firewall and modify the air intake system. The powerplant was mated to a 6-speed LT80 transmission with paddle shifters. The Borla exhaust sounds menacing even though it’s supposed to be the mellow tone. The 4-link rear suspension combined with A-Arms at the front uses the Air Ride Technology with bags front and back. It is fully adjustable and offers a comfortable ride. Massive CPP big piston brakes ensure all the necessary stopping power for this big cruiser.
The exterior was completely reimagined resulting in a unique killer looks while maintaining the classic feel. Continuing the original 50s color theme of the Bel Air, Matt decided to put gloss black paint on the trunk, rear fenders, and the roof, all the areas that used to be white originally. The front, sides, and lower portion of the body that used to be red and all chrome trim elements were made matte black. Shaved doors and fenders look smooth without distracting door handles and mirrors. A set of old-school Raceline billet edition wheels with gloss black lips and matte black finish along with modern LED headlights complete the look. The interior was built around the stock dash painted black with subtle custom details with dark leather and Alcantara upholstery maintaining the overall classic feel of the car.
Specs 1956 Chevy Bel Air – 4Door:
- It was a clean starter – the car was in a great running condition.
- Continuing the original 50s theme of the car he decided to put gloss black on the areas that used to be white originally, and matte black on the areas that used to be red.
- Reinforced frame
- Crate LS3 engine (AMA 525 HP edition)
- LT80 transmission – 6 speed
- Fully adjustable Air Suspension with bags front and back.
- 4 link rear suspension and A-Arm on the front
- Old-school Raceline billet edition wheels – gloss black lips with matte black
- Shaved doors and fenders
- Borla performance exhaust
Watch the progress and find out more about this 1956 Chevy Bel Air – 4Door project by visiting the Instagram profile of the owner: @matteblackunicorn!
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Automotive journalist and technical writer with more than 10 years of experience. Specialized in aftermarket parts and performance modifications. Loves everything on four wheels and obsessed with modified muscle cars, both classic and modern.