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3/4 Sized? 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Shorty

It’s hard to imagine an auto line-up from the ’50s with more iconic lines than the tri-five Chevrolets, with arguably, a styling improvement progressing from 1955 through 1957.  That being the case, why take a ’56 Bel Air and hack out the middle, thereby bestowing it with the punitive name of “shorty”? Because you could? Maybe, who knows for sure but here’s just such an example to examine, and maybe the question will be answered. This creation is located in Buckeye, Arizona, and is available, here on craigslist for $9,800. Thanks to Pat L. for this tip!

This custom has a lean listing. You always want to know a little back story or what drove the motivation to conduct such an undertaking. And this custom was no mean feat, it’s a lot of measuring, cutting, welding, reinforcing, etc. Was it worth the effort? Well if you enjoy the fruits of your labor, absolutely! If you decide to part with your creation, and it’s in hot demand, then yes again. Otherwise, you’re stuck with your effort and perhaps the nagging, “Why did I do this?” thought.

While this shorty isn’t for me, I really admire the metalwork. My metalworking skills would probably stop at about the level necessary to concoct a crude looking still, and I actually worked in a body shop at one-time, so I truly admire the effort. The C-pillar treatment, and its integration into the rear window, is really well-done. Styling cues like that take a lot of imagination as there really isn’t an existing template that can be plagiarized. The simple orange finish is in good condition, with some depth but not a great shine. The chrome, bumpers, etc., looks a bit thin, they’re totally presentable, just old. Where things don’t really work well is when you view this Chevy in profile, it just doesn’t flow properly. And I don’t think it’s because there is a nagging image of an unaltered ’56 Bel Air in my consciousness, it just looks off. That said, there are no obvious body scars or misfit panels so thumbs up overall.

Under the non-altered hood is a Chevy small-block motor, one of over 100M produced since 1955. But which one? The seller doesn’t elaborate, but he does state, “Fresh V8 with aluminum intake and Edelbrock 4bbl HEI Ignition, dual exhaust, Fresh Powerglide automatic transmission runs drives good.” The Powerglide, IMHO, is a poor choice, especially when there are so many better alternatives available. Considering everything that has been done to this Chevy, a better transmission would have been a small item.

The interior is pretty fair, a repainted dash, bucket seats coopted from somewhere, auxillary gauges added and good carpet in place. The door cards are home made and cheesy looking but that’s a minor matter. The B&M style racing shifter, with the aforementiond Powerglide, looks out of place. And yes, I know heavily modified PG’s are used in top-fuel drag racing but that hardly describes this car’s station in life. What I would like to see is how the interior C-pillars are finished, unfortunately no images are included.

Cool? Yes in an endearing sort of way but I bet the appeal is very limited. What do you think, good alternative to a full-sized ’56, or OK in its own right?


  1. Avatar photo Joe Daniels

    Well, it was just a 4-door anyway, so I guess it was better than crushing it.

    Like 2
  2. Avatar photo 73 AMX

    I guess a guess a guy could get some usable parts from it for a real 56

    Like 6
  3. Avatar photo John Wilburn

    If you’re going to ruin the car, at least put a V6 in it to match the shortened look.

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo sign guy

    Can’t help but wonder why they put a dinosaur on the roof for a couple of the pictures.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo carl pederson

    My vote for the ugliest car of the year for 2020

    Like 7
  6. Avatar photo Chuck

    Unless all the trim has been changed out this is not a Bel Air probably a 210.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo steve flynn

    nice garage… :)

    Like 4
  8. Avatar photo Steve R

    I like how the fuel cell is held in place with water heater straps. If that’s any indication of the quality of the workmanship that went into this car it’s a hard pass. Of course, the sellers of these monstrosity’s never show what’s really important, how the frame was spliced together. There is a reason for that. Another thing to consider, even when these cars were being built, nobody hacked up a nice car to make one of these.

    Steve R

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo grant

      Those aren’t even water heater straps. It’s just p-tape. Yikes. If you have this around your water heater you should go to home depot and get real straps, btw.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Paul L Windish

    Any truth to the rumor the current owner has a red ball nose, baggy clothes and way over sized shoes? CLOWN CAR.

    Like 5
  10. Avatar photo Doc

    Lord. W T F

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Russ Ashley

    From the comments it seems that most here feel the same as I do about shortened vehicles. I don’t remember ever seeing a shortened vehicle that didn’t look out of proportion, and this one is no exception.

    Like 5
  12. Avatar photo Jeff

    What can I say that has not already been said?
    Ho Hum….

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Joe Btfsplk

    This car would look much better as a roadster.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    Could this PLEASE be the end of shortened vehicles
    on this site? PLEASE!!!

    Like 4
  15. Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

    The ONLY thing missing is a porthole window.

    I knew a guy in H.S. That took a hacksaw to a perfectly good ‘55 Bel-Aire. Yes, it was now a convertible, but at the 40th Reunion, he was STILL kicking himself for doing that.

    Oh, well…

    Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Tirefriar


    Like 2
  17. Avatar photo Ian C

    I remember submitting this one last year, so I looked back to see if the price/location were different. No mention of price in the last write up. Anyone have a better memory than me? (not that it would take much)

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff


      Thanks for the note, you did in November 2019. I generally don’t like to cover items that have already been published before, and had I known about the prior post, I would have passed on covering it again. The last time, “shorty” was located in Las Vegas and listed on craigslist and you’re right, no price was referenced.

      I gather our readers aren’t a fan of these – I get it.


      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Ian C

        No big deal at all. It is kind of interesting to see if some of these have changed after a new owner takes possession.

        As far as people complaining about them… I am not a fan of many shorty’s, but some are interesting. Like the dually Suburban or ’65 ElCamino that were featured here in the past. Someone is going to complain about every car featured. When I see something that I don’t like, I scroll to the next one. I know it is a bizarre concept, but it works for me. I think all of the writers are doing a great job!!

        Like 3
  18. Avatar photo lary waldman

    Is there a good idea for a shortened vehicle ? Perhaps a 12 cyl. Volkswagen Phaeton built by Bentley for Volkswagen. It is just a thought!

    Like 0

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