Gasser Or Restoration? 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

With most project cars, I lean towards restoring rather than customizing them. There are cases though when a car is either missing lots of parts or is just a little too rough to justify a restoration. This 1955 Chevy Bel Air is right there on the edge, so I thought I’d see what you think. Should it be fully restored or is this a candidate for restoration? You can have a closer look at it here on eBay in Stafford Springs, Connecticut with a current bid of $5,600.

At first glance, the outside of this Chevy really doesn’t look too bad. The paint has definitely seen better days and the chrome needs redone, but I don’t see any give rust holes. Take a look underneath though and things start to get a bit scarier. We’ve seen worse saved, but it’s definitely going to need a ton of work just to be driveable. And that’s the first issue that makes me think it would be better to customize it. Since this is a body-on-frame design, you could pull the chassis out and treat it to a full restoration. Personally, if there are any areas with major decay, I’d scrap the frame and slip an Art Morrison chassis under it. While it wouldn’t be original or cheap, at least you could feel confident that it isn’t going to collapse going down the road.

As we move into the inside, I’m seeing more reasons to go the custom route. For one, the drivetrain is missing and there’s no word as to what engine it originally came with. The VIN and trim tag are displayed, but there’s no engine code visible. There is a “C” stamped in front of the year on the VIN, which denotes this as being a Bel Air. Something about the stamping seems a little off to me, but the trim tag shows it is a Bel Air as well. Without the numbers matching engine, this car isn’t likely to fetch the same kind of money as a survivor will. In my opinion, this makes this one a project for someone looking to create their dream car. Whether that means dropping in a rebuilt 283 or going wild with a supercharged big block, is up to the builder.

The interior is another area of concern, but few cars have the level of parts support as a Tri-Five. You can get every nut, screw, and bolt to make it correct. It all just comes down to your budget and goals. If I were to take it on, I’d go the custom route for the interior. I’d keep it as simple as possible, but with a few Gasser-style touches to give it a period hot rod feel. Heck, someone already changed the door panels out with custom ones, so I’d probably run with that look.

However you do it, this is definitely a huge project to tackle. For the right price though, it could be a fun build. The rust is likely the biggest issue to deal with, as parts are readily available for these. I envision the body left ratty, but ridding on a modern chassis with a 327 under the hood and a black with red accent interior. We all have our own tastes and style though, so I’d love to hear what you would do with this one if you were to take it on!

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Comments

  1. Spudoo

    Maybe “Restoration” or turn into something more interesting? Aren’t we done with the ridiculous “Gasser” thing yet. Good grief.

    Like 7
  2. Derek

    Nah, that’s a 50 quid car to sell to a teenager – who then learns about stuff and gets mobile.

    Like 2
  3. Steve R

    Gassers are getting played out. Original Gassers and those that are built with nostalgic, period parts can be cool. However most seem to be built with the sole purpose of drawing attention at a car show, those aren’t well though out or executed, that has the effect of diminishing the ones that have been done well.

    Steve R

    Like 6
  4. GCS Member

    Looks only to really need floors. I hate gassers so I’d restore it.

    Like 5
  5. Doug from MD.

    The great thing about the tri-5s has always been that they can be built petty much anyway one chooses. There’s really no wrong way unless you don’t know what your doing. Sad thing is today everyone wants LS motors special built frames and multiple mega buck rides. Nothing wrong with that but it to will tire and become same old same before long. Still let the buyer decide and build yours the way you want.

    Like 4
  6. Haynes

    That’s the good 55….hardtop…nice…shave the hood…8 stacks peaking out…white headers behind front skinnies…not too high in front so gasser-haters won’t obsess,perfect glass,perfect trim,no paint,photoshop a front bumper to see if you like it;4discs, 4speeds badass suspension then tell your kids college isn’t for everyone

    Like 4
  7. A.G.

    If the VIN starts with a C, this came off the line with a six.

  8. Troy s

    Why not something in the middle, it doesnt take much for a ’55 Chevy to look “hot”, just the right color and a set of 60’s style Torque Thrusts will still to this day draw attention.
    A lumpy idling 355 with cherrys and of course the 4 speed shifter sticking out of the floor. We all like ’em.
    Gassers……well what look do you like best on the famous ’55 from Two Lane and American Graffiti. Same car(s),,, I like both styles but the black version in AG won my heart over as a kid. Nasty machine.

    Like 3
  9. Richard

    I agree vin with VC would have come off the line with a 8 cyl plus the tail fins would display the V on each fin.

  10. Robt

    Awesome yard art.
    So done with gassers. Gasser are great, but rare these days to see something interesting. Same with the over restored.
    Needs a lot of work no matter what if you want to put it on the road.

    So I return to ‘awesome yard art’.
    But not at price it’ll reach.
    Dang.

  11. Frank

    How about two for the price of one? So many years later and still restoring it. Family, kids, college and weddings. Then the dreaded kids electric cars show up in the driveway. Its now a full-fledged antique!

  12. Tort Member

    New floor pans, possibly a new frame , quarter panels, fenders, and door skins along with bumpers, grill before addressing a complete interior, glass, brakes, wiring , paint, engine, trans and it goes on and on. If a person has lots of skills to do the work and lots of money go for it but if not it will be a heck of lot better to search for one that’s ready to jump in and cruise or show and would save money and grief.

  13. Ron

    When I was in high school in the late 60’s, I worked part time with a guy by the name of MC McGinnis from north Nashville who drove a ‘55 two door hardtop like this with a 265 and a 4-speed, rode to lunch with him one day and could not believe how that thing ran, he wound it so tight before slamming the next gear I was sure he was going to blow it up, he just laughed, fun times…

  14. Dave Peterson

    The kids who got these towed home and took them to auto shop class when 15 years old are now passing. In 20 years this will be like a Model T is now – curiosity but not a hot button car. My first was a ’56 post with 265 and three speed Hurst shifter. Chrome reverse and an 8-track player with Blues Project blaring. I thought I was Joe LaCou personified.

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