Beyond Help? 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

Yesterday I wrote about a 1957 Bel Air Convertible that showed a lot of promise as a project car. Today we have a ’56 Bel Air that would seem to sit at the other end of the scale. It has copped the double whammy of accident damage and rust, and the reality is that it will probably serve as a donor car for another project. It is located in North Augusta, South Carolina, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $2,800 in what is a No Reserve auction.

If you are as passionate about your classic cars as I am, then you will find the sight of a car like this to be painful. The Bel Air has suffered some significant accident damage at some point, and I suspect that this is why it was initially parked. Since then, it appears that it has been ransacked for most of its useable parts. There are still some salvageable components left, but not that many. It isn’t clear whether the frame was damaged in the accident, but the level of bending and panel movement suggests that this is a possibility. If the Convertible has been sitting in this spot for an extended period, there is also the chance that rust has done even further damage. The panels themselves are beyond the point of no return, as is most of the chrome and trim. The frame for the convertible top is present, which could be restored for use in another car.

There is no upholstery left inside the Bel Air, but there is still a reasonable amount of hardware. The seat frames are present and appear to be restorable. Door and window mechanisms are also present, as is the steering column. There isn’t much else that can be salvaged. The story is similar below the skin. The drivetrain has all been removed. However, the pedals and booster for the power brake system are present and could potentially be restored. There are also a few smaller items like suspension arms, but that’s about all there is.

I am an optimist by nature, but even I am willing to admit that this ’56 Bel Air Convertible is beyond saving. It would have been a wonderful classic once, but those days are a long way behind it. When I look at what is on offer here, I note that the VIN and Cowl Tags are present and that the vehicle has a clean title. That is where the value rests with this car, and I think that the low bidding reflects this fact. I hate to see classic vehicles dismantled for parts, but if this one has to be sacrificed so that another one can live, I’m okay with that.

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Comments

  1. Steve Bush Member

    Assuming the bids are legit, and who knows if they are, we’ll see how much people are willing to pay for 1956 Bel Air convertible VIN tags. Interesting that the seller seems to be thinking the same way as he makes it very clear that he has the correct tags.

    Like 15
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sweet Mother of God! Aren’t there enough ’57 Chevies in the world?

    Like 18
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    I meant ’56 Chevies. Or 55! Dis-missed!!

    Like 16
  4. Mitchell Gildea Member

    “Beyond help” Really what gave it away?

    Like 21
    • Al

      I think it would make a delightful center piece for a man-cave.

      Like 12
  5. Fred W

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see $2800 here. I barely see $400 scrap value here. What a shame the old girl was left outside for so long.

    Like 22
  6. Will Fox

    If someone is dumb enough to bid $2800. on this roached shell, they have more money than brains. It needs so much that in order to even get the basics together to even start restoring this would be at least $10K-$15K. It never ceases to amaze me what someone sees in an ancient wreck to try to restore. There isn’t even enough of this left for parts.

    Like 11
    • Mike1955

      Calling bidders dumb for bidding on what they need?
      If they have a good car, Title and vin could be worth that easily?

      Like 13
      • Vince H

        Putting the VIN on another car is illegal.

        Like 19
      • Poppy

        By “good car” do you mean a “good stolen car?” Why wouldn’t their “good car” already have a title and VIN?

        Like 26
  7. Murray Shane

    Yard art at its finest

    Like 6
  8. David Mika

    Sad. It is also heartbreaking to see that ’63, ‘63.5 Galaxie ‘vert lurking in the shadows…

    Like 3
    • Jim & Marilyn B

      1963 Chevrolet Impala convertible back ground 👈👀… Marilyn

  9. Mark

    Ads like this are an insult to the intelligence of the common man.
    What riverbed was this thing pulled from and dragged out into the air woods to air dry?
    Love pic 12 showing what the car could look like….reminds me of the C’list ads where the owner has done the homework and figures it will only take $800 of parts from Pep Boys.
    The people who buy junk like this for the VIN tag to swindle people are a plague on the car hobby.

    Like 26
    • DON

      There are hundreds of cars like this in old time junkyards , they probably came in after 10 years of road use , then for the first few years it got picked clean of its useable parts, and then just sat in all sorts of weather for 50 or so years . I used to walk around some of these yards and take pictures in the 1980s to early 90s , sadly many yards were crushed out when the price of steel went crazy and/or the owners passed away .

      Like 10
  10. sg

    Don’t laugh at the price…10 or 15 years ago the top bows, trim, trunk hinges, and convertible quarter panel parts were unobtainium and worth several thousand dollars by themselves. Now I believe they’re all available aftermarket so there’s not as much demand.

    Like 4
  11. Stan Marks

    What a waste of pictures.

    Like 7
  12. Steve Feld Member

    The restoration of this old timer would be great reality show viewing and a real test of skill where most of what’s left would have to be used to qualify as a restoration for the show.

    Like 5
  13. Bob C.

    The only halfway decent thing on this is the right side door handle.

    Like 7
  14. Chris

    When I saw this I leapt back like Dracula from the Cross …. what a horror movie that would be …better bring a slab of cash to throw at it ….

    Like 4
  15. Ross

    Yeah it can be helped. Helped straight to the mill!
    End of story.

    Like 2
  16. Tom B.

    Paging Greg Brady…..

    Like 2
  17. Ken Pavlic

    RIP Rust In Peace

    Like 3
  18. Robert White

    “You can’t polish a turd’ see Christine the movie!

    Bob

    Like 3
    • BlackTa

      Stephen King himself could not resurrect this “vehicle”.

      Like 5
  19. RNR

    Real Deal Steel lists a new ‘56 convert body including top bows but excluding front sheet metal (which are also repopped) for $19,350.

    That’s the cost/benefit benchmark for restoring this hulk.

    Like 6
    • Arthur

      That has me thinking … if the front end and other parts from this wreck could somehow be salvaged, it could be a donor for a project involving the ’56 convertible body from Real Deal Steal.

      Like 2
  20. Ike Onick

    I know the real story behind this car. It 1958 the CIA Chief-Of-Station in Saigon, Cameron “Skip” Vanderhoof III, decided if he was going to be in Saigon for an extended period, he would need some of the comforts of home shipped from his residence in Fairfax County, Virginia. Everything was going well until Skip decided he could not live another day without his prized 1956 Bel-Air convertible and had to have it shipped. The freighter with Skip’s furnishings was ready to sail from Norfolk and there was absolutely no room for the Chevy. “Nothing to worry about” He knew the CIA’s airline of choice, Southern Air Transport (SAT), had a weekly milk run to the Saigon “area” and the SAT Cargo Master owed Skip for a few “favors” during their time on Korea. I use the term “area” because most of what SAT delivered would not have ever cleared Customs if you get my drift. The car was loaded on the next C-130 out of an un-named airfield in Maryland. Unfortunately for Skip and the Chevrolet, all of the cargo on the night flight had to be dropped from the back of the C-130 as the area was too “hot” for a standard landing and unloaded. As you can plainly see, a few of the parachutes failed to deploy. To this day no one really knows how the remains of the Chevy made it back stateside.

    Like 11
    • Paolo

      I read about that. The story goes that the ’56 was hidden inside a giant block of heroin which was disguised as an extra jumbo C-ration can of “Ham and Lima Beans”. Since no one was interested in ever eating “Ham and Lima Beans” the contents escaped scrutiny when it was shipped back to the United States sometime before the fall of Saigon. It sounds crazy now but that’s how it was back them.
      The remains of this 1956 Chevrolet will make a fine ash tray.

      Like 11
      • Ike Onick

        Paolo (if that’s your real name)- Good story but I know my facts are the correct ones. I got the scoop straight from a certain cargo airline employee whose job it was to clean the cargo holds after the freight was unloaded. He heard the “Skip” story one night at Dulles Airport on the overnight shift. One of the Co-Pilots, A guy nick-named “Shipwreck” told the cleaner my EXACT story while having a smoke near the AvGas storage area. (It was quieter back there) Apparently “Shipwreck” heard it on a four-day layover in Anchorage from an Uber driver named “Frenchy” who had recently moved to Alaska from Hong Kong where he worked as a short-order cook at a dive called “Madame U-wong’s Noodle House and Typing School. The story was found on a balled-up piece of carbon paper found in a freezer at the U-wong Noodle House. Got It?

        Like 9
      • Stan Marks

        Did they find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, too?

        Like 5
  21. JAMES KAUFFMAN

    This makes me think of Greg Brady’s first car, although his was in much better shape than this one.

    Like 4
  22. George Mattar

    Ship it. Sadly to a crusher. Too far gone and yes putting that VIN on a new Chinese made POS is illegal. Some things are just to far gone.

    Like 4
  23. Mike

    The only way this would be a candidate for a restoration if it was owned by someone really famous or took part in a famous (or infamous) part of history.

    Like 3
    • Ike Onick

      That’s what I been telling you!!!!!!!!

      Like 4
      • RNR

        It’d have to be iconic….

        Like 2
  24. ACZ

    Is there a car in the photo?

    Like 4
  25. T

    This is an insult to this website.

    Like 3
    • Shan_Paramus

      i agree, this is an utter embarrassment. There are limits to everything. Might as well have showed it crushed up into a square foot cube

      Like 3
      • Stan Marks

        It would be an improvement.

        Like 1
  26. Morley Member

    You guys are to cruel. It is a Chevy and a convert. Has to be worth a heck of a lot more than the crumbled and burnt Mopars that keep showing up.

    Like 3
  27. Joe Btfsplk

    There are the makings of a fine classic Chevy coffee table in that presentation.

    Like 2
  28. R Soul

    Not much meat left on this bone.

    Like 3
  29. Al Loncto

    Nothing to see here! Pure junk, not worth saving.

  30. nlpnt

    Ran when parked, in 1969. I agree that someone will use this car’s identity for what’s effectively a brand new all-repro ’56 Chevy convertible, almost certainly with a modern LS powertrain.

    Like 2
  31. BR

    Ready made rat rod.

  32. Phlathead Phil

    You would “hate to see it ‘dismantled’ so that another car could live?”

    Hasn’t it already been dismantled?

    Why not just buy a ‘56 steering column and power booster and start from there?

    Seems a lot cheaper and less work.

    A dreadful sight to see.

    Like 2
  33. Robert

    $2800, what is he thinking, and switching vin is illegal. Piece of junk.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      It’s bid up to $3,300 with 10 bids…

  34. Paolo

    Just in time for Halloween, it’s a very stylish vehicle for the undead. Use it as the centerpiece for the Halloween banquet. Make sure to wear a mask(!) and practice social distancing while you frantically dance, dance, dance to the Gypsy music desperately seeking to keep the Red Death at bay.
    “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

  35. Oldskool

    This is for someone who needs a “re body” restoration. Real Steel sells a replacement body for 16k. The vin tags are worth that much

  36. Chuck Dickinson

    Remember P.T. Barnum’s quote: There’s an ass for every seat!

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