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One-of-a-Kind Chevy to Be Displayed on the Diamond During Bellefonte Cruise

by and on June 14, 2019 4:30 AM

It’s been over 45 years in the making, but when Rick Bird recently put the final touches on the 1955 Chevy Bel Air he started building in 1973, the result was an award-winning, one-of-a-kind custom vehicle. This special car will be on display on the diamond during the Bellefonte Cruise car show this weekend.

While his Chevy has been referred to as a “million dollar car,” Bird said that is a bit of an exaggeration.

“I couldn’t afford that,” he laughed. “It’s a nice car, though. It’ll hold its own wherever it goes.”

In fact, according to Bird, the car did more than “hold its own” at one of the top car shows in the country earlier this year, taking a first place award at Autorama in Detroit.

“I’ve always enjoyed being around cars and building them,” he said. “I have a ’54 Mercury I used to bring to the Cruise. I have some street rods and a couple of Corvettes. This is the first of my cars to really ever get into the bigger shows. Some of the cars at these shows get $2 million — it’s unreal.”

As far as the Chevy Bel Air, Bird said, “Everything is customized on it, built the way I wanted.”

Some of the customizations include rear-hinged “suicide” doors, “like the old Lincolns,” he said.

“Custom paint, special frame, special rear end, special engine, the interior is all done over… It looks like a ’55 car, but when you open the hood up, everything is special under there. I put an electrical gas opener on the taillight — so you just hit a button in the car and the taillight opens and you can put gas in the back.”

A Bellefonte native, Bird attended State College schools and is now the owner of R.W. Bird Trucking in Pleasant Gap, along with his brother. He is looking forward to taking his Bel Air to more car shows, including the Goodguys show in Columbus, Ohio, next month.

“It’s just something I enjoy. I don’t get away a lot; it’s hard when you own your own business,” he said. “But I enjoy going.”


The 31st Bellefonte Cruise is Friday through Sunday, with an open cruise and sock hop on Friday; car show, entertainment and more on Saturday; and soap box derby races on Sunday. See the schedule below and for more details visit


Friday, June 14

6-7:30 p.m. — Open Cruise

7:30-10:30 p.m. — Sock hop with The 1910 Fruitgum Company and the WOWY crew.

Marketplace in front of the Courthouse

Kids Zone activities near the YMCA

Saturday, June 15

All day — Marketplace in front of the Courthouse

All day — Kids Zone activities near the YMCA

7 a.m.-noon — Registration

7 a.m.-5 p.m. — Car, truck and motorcycle show

10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. — Frackwater Jack

Noon-5 p.m. — DJ Troy Breon and the WOWY crew

1:30 p.m. — Bike games by USMC veterans

2:30 p.m. — Car giveaway (free entry; must be register and be present to win)

5 p.m. — Car show awards

Sunday, June 16

Noon-5 p.m. — Soap box derby

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Karen Walker
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