MONTREAL - If you just happen to be cruising down the streets of Dallas this summer and spot a blacked out '56 Chevrolet Bel Air, Jordie Benn might very well be the man behind the wheel.
On May 15, the 29-year-old defenseman shared photographs of his prized possession on his Instagram account - @jordiebenn - after it received an extensive paint restoration and ceramic coating treatment at Detail Werkz, a local high-end detail center in Big D.
Benn acquired the vehicle late last year with the help of a contact in the Los Angeles area, who scoured the country looking for his "dream car". It just so happened that a classic car dealership in Detroit - Vanguard Motor Sales - had exactly what the Canadiens' No. 8 was looking for.
"When my guy in LA saw the car, he said it had my name written all over it. I told him I was specifically looking for an old Bel Air. He texted me and then we just went through the process of getting it. I fell in love with it right away. I had to pull the trigger on it," said Benn, on securing the classic ride. "He sent me pictures of a couple others before this one. They were alright, but something about this car just caught my eye, so I picked her up."
Benn's interest in classic cars really took off with the release of the 2000 action crime thriller, Gone in 60 Seconds, starring Nicolas Cage as an infamous car thief forced to come out of retirement to steal 50 cars in one night to save his brother's life. One of those cars just happened to be a '57 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible, but it was Cage's quest to get his hands on a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 - a.k.a. Eleanor - that really captured his attention.
"Good old Eleanor," said Benn with a laugh. "Ever since that movie came out, I'd say I had a thing for old cars and old muscle cars. It just stuck with me. I've just always wanted to be able to purchase one and have a little gift for myself, so I found it and I said, Why not?' Ferraris and cars like that are cool, but I don't really see a point in buying one when you can have a Chevy Bel Air."
So, what does the six-year NHL veteran enjoy most about his new toy?
"Probably just how it's all blacked out with a little bit of grey - the bumper and all that is matte grey. I know most Bel Air guys really like how a lot of them come in red and have chrome rims like that, but I really like how this one was dark and the rims were dark grey," said Benn. "It's got the roll cage in it. It's got pocket race car seats with the shoulder straps. You can do a pretty good burn on it, that's for sure. The engine's also pretty big in it, so it sounds cool when you drive down the road."
Strutting around sporting one of the best beards in the League, Benn is used to getting noticed anywhere he goes, but these days his follicles are taking a back seat when it comes to earning compliments from strangers.
"A lot of older people give me the thumbs up out the window," said Benn, before recounting the reaction he's gotten from local police. "When I first got it, I just drove it up the street to take it to the gas station. I had two cops following me, so I thought I was going to get pulled over. I drove in, turned the car off and they just pulled up and yelled out the window, 'Beautiful car! '56!' They just said sweet car and drove away."
Tooling around in his new whip is quickly becoming a favorite summer hobby for Benn, but like any outdoor activity, his plans revolve around Mother nature.
"Everything in there is brand new, so technically I could drive it every day. But I won't take it out if it's raining. Actually, if it's even a cloudy day, I won't take it out, either. If it's nice and sunny, I'll take it out for a rip," mentioned Benn, who enjoys riding it to and from the gym for workouts with former Dallas Stars teammates like Jason Spezza and his younger brother, Jamie. "If it's a nice day, I'm probably in it."
Unfortunately, he'll be leaving it behind when he makes his way back up to Montreal in early August to continue his offseason workouts at the Bell Sports Complex and get settled in before the start of training camp.
"It's not going anywhere," cracked Benn. "There's too much snow there."