Manda Groves’s 1962 Chev Bel Air wagon

Manda Groves grew up with wagons and her '62 Chev Bel Air wagon dubbed Lola is her dream car

Photographers: Steve Kelly

LONG-roofed Yank tanks really are the cat’s meow. And Manda Groves’ 1962 Chev Bel Air wagon is the perfect example, with its hectares of sheet metal punctuated by long, sleek brightwork. The huge wheelarches easily swallow the massive Intro rims as the wagon lowers its belly to the earth. So, let’s hear more about this dual bench-seated ride.

This article was first published in the August 2019 issue of Street Machine

Sweet wags, Manda! Tell us about it.

It is a ’62 Bel Air station wagon called Lola, which I bought four-and-a-half years ago. Before Lola I had a ’63 Chevy Impala four-door pillarless that I basically sold to buy this, my dream car. I grew up with wagons, so I’ve always liked them. Plus, my family are really into Chevs, especially my dad who has a ’55 Chevy 210 four-door, which he’s given a ground-up resto to, and a ’55 Chev pick-up truck.

Where’d you find Lola?

In California – I had Wayne from USA Cool Classic Rides Australia check it out, then import her for me. She landed in Melbourne, so my partner Nick and I drove the wagon from there to Brisbane in 24 hours. I did most of the driving, as I was running off adrenalin and happiness. And she only took $385 in fuel! There were no issues, though I was nervous as I hadn’t driven left-hook too much, but I really got to know Lola during that drive.

Have you done many mods?

I’ve added a 350ci Chev, to replace the smaller 283ci. She already had the Intro 20-inch front and 22-inch rear rims, with the airbag suspension. That was all done by The Hot Rod Shop in California, where they add an interior trim kit, big wheels and sound system, then sell the cars off.

Chev Bel Air wagon engine bayWhat do you get up to with Lola?

It’s great to go for a cruise and then stop at the meeting point and pop the tailgate down so that I can sit and hang out with my mates. I’m in the Chevy-oriented 55-56-57 Shoebox Club of Queensland, and we go to runs and car shows. Also we’re running the Real Steel & Chrome Car Show on 18 August at the Yatala Drive-In – I’m the main co-ordinator. I started the pre-’79 show last year, as I wanted a broader show that included all makes. We had 78 cars entered, which was impressive for our first year, and I’m hoping that it’ll grow this year. I love the atmosphere of the car scene and being around anything tough, especially V8s.

Future plans?

I don’t want to do anything else to Lola, though everyone’s trying to convince me to get a big-block. For me it’s about the fuel economy, plus it’s currently turn-key without any issues; Lola is just my cruiser. Now I’m on the hunt for a ’64 Nova wagon that will run a 420ci with 15-degree heads, NOS, tubs and ’cage for racing. Nick races his HR Holden wagon in the Kenda Tires 660 Drag Radial Series, so I want to get into that too.