Written by Barbara Toombs
Sometimes knowing the back stories of collector cars and the people who restore or build them makes them even more special. Such is the case with two classic Tri-Fives headed to the 2021 Scottsdale Auction, where they will be selling with No Reserve: An original restored 1957 Bel Air hardtop (Lot #1007) and a stunning custom 1957 Bel Air convertible (Lot #1357).
Both cars were painstakingly restored by Patrick’s Classy Cars of Phoenix, Arizona. Originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Patrick drove to Arizona “straight from the altar” with his new bride Jill – his high school sweetheart – in 1987, towing a U-Haul trailer with all their belongings behind his 1969 Pontiac GTO convertible (a car he still owns).
Patrick’s dad, who was a “Chevy guy,” had an automotive shop, and from the age of 10 Patrick started helping out. He knew from the get-go that he wanted to work with classic cars, and because the restoration business was big in Arizona, that became the young couple’s destination.
After working with another Arizona shop for just over a year, Patrick decided to venture out on his own, and Patrick’s Classy Cars came into being in November 1988. Carrying on his dad’s love for the Bowtie brand, Patrick specializes in 1955 to mid-1960s Chevy convertibles, but his “calling card” at Barrett-Jackson has always been Tri-Fives.
Patrick is passionate about what he does. “Working on these cars, buying and selling them and keeping them on Planet Earth is important,” he says. “We crushed enough of these darn cars back in the ’70s and ’80s, so to me, it’s great to get them back on the road. My job is to make them the best they can possibly be for the next person.”
Patrick’s Classy Cars restores and builds both original and Resto-Modded Chevrolets, and one of each will be headed to this year’s Scottsdale event.
The Resto-Mod, Lot #1357, is a deep gloss black 1957 Bel Air convertible. “It has all of today’s technology,” Patrick says. “LS3 and tilt and bucket seats and cupholders and all that nice stuff. You can’t go wrong with that kind of car.” Indeed not. Other modern bells and whistles include power steering, power windows, air conditioning, Dakota Digital VHX gauges, keyless entry, automatic trunk release, and a 7-inch touchscreen with built-in Bluetooth, CD/DVD and USB capabilities.
The custom Bel Air rides on an Art Morrison GT sport chassis and has chrome front and rear suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes and coilover shocks, while under the unique power reverse-opening hood is a 430-horsepower LS3 engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission, connected to a polished-aluminum driveshaft and Jet Hot-coated dual exhaust. The black Italian leather interior features black suede appointments, a leather-covered remote-controlled center console, and a polished tilt column with a customized Billet Specialty steering wheel.
The second offering from Patrick’s Classy Cars is a departure from their usual convertibles: Lot #1007 is a Sierra Gold 1957 Bel Air hardtop. The beautifully restored original car has a 283ci V8 Power Pack engine, automatic transmission, front bumper guards, spinner hubcaps and even a tissue dispenser. Patrick put more than a little TLC into this restoration, and with good reason. It was the last car he and his wife Jill purchased together, back in 2016.
Although Patrick initially bought the car for the parts, he decided to restore it instead. “I told my wife I could have the car painted and put back together in 8 weeks. It’s a simple car to do,” he remembers. “Then we both got sick.”
Sadly, Jill found out she had breast cancer, and Patrick got leukemia. “Everything fell apart,” Patrick said. “The week of my bone marrow transplant in November 2018, I lost her. I never got to say goodbye or anything. It was terrible. Because I never got to say goodbye, I decided that this year, once I was healthy enough to get back to work, I would bring that car to Barrett-Jackson in honor of her.”
Patrick strongly believes that getting back to work played a major factor in helping him heal – both from his illness and from the tragedy of losing his wife. “The only thing I’ve ever had in my life besides my wife and children is my shop,” he said. “My shop means everything to me. This has been my baby – I fed it, nurtured it, raised it from infancy. I believe if I had stayed home and stayed on the couch and felt sorry for myself, I would have passed a long time ago.”
We’re pretty sure that when these two special ’57 Bel Airs cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block and head to their new homes, Patrick’s beloved wife Jill will be looking on with pride.
For up-to-date information on these and other vehicles headed to the 2021 Scottsdale Auction, click HERE.