CHANNELING
Car Craft|March 2020
Once Owned by “Dyno Don” Nicholson, This ’62 Chevrolet Bel Air Has Been Given an LS Swap by its Current Owner, Frankie Trutanic

There is always an eclectic mix at the Holley LS Fest events with Chevy’s LS workhorse as the glue that ties it all together. Naturally, when you spot a car at one of these gatherings the assumption is that it’s LS motivated. When we spotted Frankie Trutanic’s ’62 Chevrolet Bel Air Bubbletop sitting there with a wicked stance, we figured that it had been the recipient of, what else, an LS swap. We were on the mark with our assumption, but what pulled us in even further was how deceptively dressed it was underhood. The part that really put it over the top was his assertion that it was once owned by “Dyno Don” Nicholson. That affirmation prompted a completely different set of questions, with the most obvious being, why do an LS swap on a car with that provenance? Frankie was very straightforward in explaining that: “I have always been a big fan of LS swaps, and I like to drive my cars.” He is no stranger to dropping an LS into what he owns, with a number of swaps under his belt, and a 1,200-horse LS-powered ’86 Buick T-Type as his most radical to date.

The acquisition of the ’62 Bubbletop was a bucket list item that Frankie wanted to check off at some point. When his search commenced, he quickly realized that they were not the easiest to find—and the few that did emerge in decent condition were fetching a premium. One eventually popped up fairly local to him at a consignment shop that looked like it was in decent condition—with a hefty price tag. In the listing it was advertised as having been owned by “Dyno Don” Nicholson. It also provided additional information stating that he had sold it in 1999, and the second owner had, at some point, performed a full restoration with a fresh coat of Ermine White paint over the original sheet metal. Part of that refurbishment also included a completely redone red interior, a rebuild of the 409ci mill that had been stroked to 472 ci, and a swap of the Powerglide in favor of a Turbo 350. It also noted that after the restoration, “Dyno Don” signed his name underneath the hood of the car, and a photo of him signing the car would be part of the package that included all the documentation on the car. After doing a bit of detective work, he found out who the seller was and contacted him. “The guy who was selling the car was the owner’s son,” he explains. “His dad was fanatical about ‘Dyno Don’ and actually owned a few cars from his estate.” The biggest obstacle that Frankie was facing at that point in getting the Bel Air was the hefty price. He was prepared to pay a realistic amount, but there was a disparity between what was being asked and what he was willing to pay. It was suggested to him that he get a cashier’s check for the amount he wanted to offer, take a photo of it and send it to the consignment place, and see where it went from there. After some back and forth bartering, all the people who had some skin in the game came together and a deal was cut for the car.

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