’53 Chevy Bel Air

Anne Dahle • Oslo, Norway

When mechanic and hobby photographer Kari Kaldahl found out about the PHR photo contest, she made two calls—one to her friend Dag Sandnes (owner of this fine four-door ’53 Chevy Bel Air), and the other to her best friend and hobby model, Anne Dahle. In Kari’s letter, she describes both Anne (47) and the Bel Air (now 59) as looking young and fresh because they’ve both been well cared for, and share a lot of pride and self esteem. Car owner Dag says that the Bel Air came to Norway in 1958 with his uncle, who left the car with Dag upon his death in 1993. After a lengthy restoration between 1997 and 2000, Dag has driven it every day, in spite of it looking like it never leaves the garage. He even brought the Bel Air to America on vacation in 2006 for a ride down historic Route 66—a leisurely cruise down the streets of Beverly Hills being among the highlights. (Why no drive through Bel Air? We’ll never know.)

’05 Cadillac CTS-V

Jillian Carlson • Southington, CT

Car owner Matthew Ehmka doesn’t say much about his model, Jillian Carlson, other than she is a friend of a friend who loves the car, and really digs the idea of being in Popular Hot Rodding. (Here’s your big chance, Jillian!) Matthew’s ’05 CTS-V, however, is not your run-of-the-mill LS6-powered Caddy. Having purchased the repossessed CTS-V from a bank in Texas for pennies on the dollar, Matthew had a few dinero leftover for a Magnuson MP112 blower, Kook’s 1⅞-inch headers, a Z06 clutch assembly, MSD coils, starter, and voltage booster, and a bigger in-tank fuel pump. Instant gratification? Uh, not exactly. The combo threw a ton of codes, and only after shelling out another $800 on some custom tuning did the Caddy throw down 450 hp to the wheels. Finally, Matthew’s CTS-V was laying down some serious snot, but alas, the happy automotive situation must come to an end. Supporting his two daughters and paying for a fresh master’s degree forces him to sell it. Oh well, at least this story will allow Matthew to fondly remember the one that got away!

’79 Pontiac Trans Am

Kimmi Harmon • Damascus, MD

Reader Kregg Reynolds of Knoxville, Maryland, always sends us plenty of cool cars (mostly Pontiacs … ) with hot ladies—let’s just say it looks like he’s leading the life we all dream of! This year, Kregg sent pics of a ’79 Trans Am he pulled out of the woods six years ago. It was covered in leaves, but Kregg still saw a lot of potential in it. After striking a deal with the owner, he stripped the whole car down, inside and out. Then, Kregg added a built 355ci small-block Chevy (Dart 215 heads, Doug Herbert solid-lifter cam, Strip Dominator intake, and 850 HP carb), a 700-R4 overdrive automatic with 3,000-stall converter, and 4.11 gears in back. “My goal with this car was to make it run faster but to have a stock appearance—sorry, no Pontiac motor for me!” So far, Kregg’s ’79 has run a best of 12.19 (quarter-mile) on the motor, and 10.90 on the nitrous. That’s not bad for a $15,000 total investment. And Kregg’s model of choice this year? The lovely 21-year-old Kimmi Harmon!