Photos Jason Huynh
Howard Irvin is a retired military veteran and police officer who was born and raised right here in Rome, Georgia.
“I’ve been in a uniform for all of my life. Whether its Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, football player, Army and as a police officer,” explains Irvin, who finally retired in 2011 to take up two new hobbies. “My favorite pastimes then became riding my horses and working on my car.”
Irvin’s most prized possession is his 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air; a big red beauty if you’ve never been fortunate enough to lay your eyes on one. He purchased her two years ago after searching for one for months. “It was about half finished so I had to tie up some loose ends, but I also wanted to re-do the car my way, because I wanted it to be my car, and not someone else’s,” he says.
He installed new felt to the interior of the car, had new red carpet placed in the floor to match the red exterior, and also had the most beautiful red, 1955 original upholstery placed into his ‘baby,’ which he so fittingly named ‘Double Nickel.’
The motor in this masterpiece of an automobile is a 5.7 LS1. Yes, it is the original motor of the 1955 Chevy Bel Air. The car sounds like a modern muscle car when Irvin cranks it up. With 10-inch chrome wheels on the front of the car and 12-inch wheels in the back, the car itself sends you back to the days of sock hops, milk shakes and drive-in movies.
Irvin says he has been purchasing Bel Air’s since he was a teenager. “I purchased my first one at 17 years old and all through the years, I’ve always had them and sold them,” he explains. There’s no thought of repeating that pattern with ‘Double Nickel’ though. “I’m going to keep this one. This here’s my baby,” says Irvin, proudly.
Howard Irvin is member of a local car club called the Old School Cruisers. His club hosts car shows of their own, but as a member, Irvin is ineligible for prize consideration. He plans to enter ‘Double Nickel’ into other car shows and, “I hope I start winning prizes with it, soon.”
It won’t be long before Irvin takes home a trophy.