383/4-Speed: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? If the object in question is engine power, the answer should be a resounding “no!” This mild-mannered 1956 Bel Air project car should offer most enthusiasts performance that will keep them satisfied courtesy of the warm V8 that hides under the hood. It runs and drives well, which leaves the buyer the option of attending to the restoration process at their leisure. Located in Miami, Florida, you will find the Bel Air listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the auction to open at $14,000, and given what is on offer, I’m astonished that there are no bids. With sixty people watching intently, that situation could change at any time. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D, who has once again demonstrated the ability to spot some great classics for us.

It appears that this Bel Air rolled off the line resplendent in Matador Red and India Ivory. It has received at least a partial repaint at some point because some of the lighter shade has been coated with what appears to be Imperial Ivory. The initial impression is pretty positive, but it’s worth noting that there are a few rust issues for the buyer to tackle before they consider applying fresh paint. The floors will require attention, as will the rockers and the area between the trunk and bumper. Perhaps the worst area is the driver’s side rear quarter panel. As you can see in the final shot in this article, there is evidence of rust and “mucho Bondo.” The owner suggests that the buyer will need to replace this panel, which sounds like wise counsel to me. All of the trim is present and shines brightly, while the glass seems to be in good order.

This old Chevy’s interior doesn’t look bad and would serve its next owner untouched as a survivor. The seat upholstery looks respectable, with no significant flaws that would justify replacement. The dash presents well, but the carpet and some of the other trim items look tired. Someone has installed an aftermarket stereo, but there appear to be no further additions. How the buyer tackles this aspect of the project will depend upon their vision for the car. If they want to retain the survivor appearance, it could be left untouched. Replacing the door trims, rear trims, and carpet will cost around $900. If perfection is the goal, that will take the tally to $2,000. That’s one of the great aspects of this project because it offers the next owner plenty of choices.

I’m disappointed that this is the only shot the owner provides of the engine because this classic’s drivetrain combination is one of its highlights. Squeezed under the hood is a 383ci V8 that the builder breathed on with upgrades to the camshaft, intake, and carburetor. There is no indication of how much power it now produces, but the figure probably hovers somewhere around “enough.” Bolted to the V8 are a new clutch and flywheel, along with a four-speed M22 manual transmission. Bringing proceedings to a safe and effective halt falls to the four-wheel disc brakes. The owner says that the Chevy runs and drives well, making it a prime candidate to be enjoyed immediately and restored as time and circumstances allow.

When an owner makes a value claim for a project once complete, potential buyers will need to consider a couple of factors before they hand over their hard-earned cash to give that car a new home. The first is whether the claim itself is realistic, while the second is whether the project is financially viable. In this case, the owner suggests a potential value of $60,000 once the buyer lays down the tools for the final time. Is this figure based on fact? That will depend on the standard of the finished product. If the buyer completes the work to an extremely high standard, it is possible based on the drivetrain combination and vehicle desirability. Whether it is financially viable is a more complex one and will largely depend on where the auction price sits when the hammer falls. If that price falls below $25,000, that leaves a lot of room to complete the work and should make it worth the cost and effort. As usual, I would advise potential buyers to perform their own research, but it all seems promising. There have been no bids, but would you be prepared to break the ice?


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  1. Terrry

    Nice thing about the 383 is it’s a torquer too. And of the 55-57 Shoeboxes, this year is the one to have IMHO.

    Like 5
  2. LarryS Member

    The body areas from the side spears down are scary. Not much metal there.

    Like 1
  3. Terry McNutt

    Guy in Florida bit off way more than he can chew. Good for you, Scuderia for ferreting out a scam. You will be upside down on this car in a heartbeat. All that panel work and interior and paint, it might be worth $60K when you are finished, but you will have $80k into the project. Trust me I know, I took on a 66’ Chevelle in better shape than this car and ended upside down when all the receipts were added up and mine is a convertible.

    Like 1
  4. 19sixty5 Member

    Ahhh, the 50’s… best concealed gas caps ever!

  5. Johnny

    Sounds like the person who is saleing it. Got burnt and is trying to get some money back for his loss. Lieing to sale something is a felony and the law does go after people on car scamming. I,d want to look the car over really good .From top to bottom.ESPECIALLY UNDER NEITH IT. I found out the hard way too and learnt a valuable lesson.

    Like 1
  6. greg

    rust and bondo for $15,000 plus, nope!

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