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Patina Queen: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Patina, and originality, is a trend that has grown tremendously in the past few years. There are folks who appreciate rust, and on the other end of the spectrum, there are folks who like survivor type vehicles. This Bel Air has plenty of patina, but is not a survivor, nor is it original. Last registered in 1996, this Chevy has a gruff appearance, but seems fairly solid. Having been repainted at some point in its history, this 2 door could stand to be painted once more. Bidding on this patina machine has reached $4,090. Find it here on eBay out of Essex Junction, Vermont.

Clearly this Bel Air was built as someone’s restomod back in the 1980’s, having been repainted, and receiving a 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8. Although sitting since 1996, this Chevy was last running 3 years ago. Since then, the 350 has gone untouched. The engine bay is a little messy as the paint prep, and actual paint work looks to have been subpar work. It would appear that this Chevy was originally a seafoam green type of color, and the red has chipped off over time. The brake master looks like a newer unit, and the inner fenders and fire wall look solid and rust free.

What little that can be seen of the interior looks to be in fair condition. There is no carpeting, and the floor has some minor rust with a couple of rot areas that apparently need some attention. Underneath of the dash is a wiring bird’s nest, but the dash, its components, and the door panels look nice. There are no detailed photos of the seats, but the headliner can been seen sagging, through the windows.

It is more than obvious that the paint is in need of some attention, but looking past this poorly executed paint job reveals a not so bad off body. With the paint in this condition you do have a chance to look the body over for filler, and other concerns. This Body does have some rust, but it could be managed with a few patch panels.  The front fenders and rear quarters are described as being straight and with no evidence of repair. There is some rot in front of the rear wheel arch on the driver side, and the driver side rocker looks to have some surface rust, and maybe some rot as well. The passenger side rocker and front lower portion of the fender has some mild rot, but getting past those places of concern, this Chevy looks pretty good. I suppose this car could be enjoyed a few different ways. You could enjoy it as is, with some mechanical work, or you could take on a more extensive effort, and take on a restoration of this 50’s icon. If you had the opportunity, what would you do with this ’56 Chevrolet Bel Air?



  1. S Ryan

    It’s been washed! All barnfinds are supposed to be covered in dirt. Probably cost seller thousands.

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  2. 68 custom

    56 is my favorite year of the tri-fives and this one looks fairly solid and probably a factory V/8 car. dual circuit master cylinder and disc brakes are a bonus. love to own it! good find! interesting how it has one 55 V/8 flag under the left tail light, wonder what thats all about? right now it is cheap too…

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  3. JW

    I love the 56 Chevys, I would get mechanicals / brakes / wiring in working order then restore the body to original along with the paint. My dads 56 was that green & white. Wonder how high bidding will go.

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  4. Todd Zuercher

    Interesting, and good, spot for a fire extinguisher!

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  5. Had 2

    It has been to Mexico at least once for the Tuck & Roll upholstery.

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  6. Woodie Man

    Loooing at the dashboard gives me a serious case of deja vu. Had a 4 door canary yellow in…………1972………..love the dash. Love to have another one..this might be more work than I want though.

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  7. Woodie Man


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  8. madbrit

    Worse place in the world for a fire extinguisher. If the motor catches light, never throw open the hood unless you want to encourage a fire flash. Crack the hood and fire the extinguisher at the source through the small gap and then slowly open the hood when you are sure the flames are out, keeping the extinguisher ready to use instantly.

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  9. Howard A Member

    1st of all, this is NOT patina. It’s a decent ’56 Chevy 2 door that needs a paint job. I too, liked the ’56 of them all, and still do. Patina, I feel, is something you’d leave alone to enhance it’s classic, “as found” condition. This, as is, looks like crap, and this could be a sharp looking car once again. I’d love to have it.

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  10. Mark S

    In away it’s good that the seller washed it, it proves that this paint job was not bonding well to the surface. Sanding and repainting would have led to a mess the first time you washed it.

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  11. Fred W.

    A pressure washer would probably take this down to the next layer in an hour.

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  12. Vin in NJ

    What did they use to repaint this car? watercolors?

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    • Mark S

      It’s all in the prep, paint won’t stick if the prep is poor. It helps to use good paint, I’d say that the prep was very poor. Had this car been repainted over the old paint without stripping it off the first trip to the car wash would yeald this result.

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      • Steve H

        So true. IMO this is a case of extremely poor surface preparation and perhaps cheap paint as well. Patina usually looks pretty cool. This does NOT look cool. Still, I would love to own it and after getting all of the mechanicals in tiptop shape it would go straight to the bodyshop for a nice new coat of Matador Red and India Ivory.

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  13. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I was waiting for the photo of the goofy cheap replacement racing steering wheel, which all amateur restores can’t seem to resist (like Cragars!). I was pleasantly surprised to see the original wheel in place.

    Like 1
  14. Rustytech Member

    Light patina ( paint thin, or light surface rust ) while not usually my cup of tea is ok. This is not patina, it looks like someone took paint remover and a puddly knife to it. This would look snappy with a new red coat and white hat!

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  15. charlie Member

    I owned one, steering wheel is lethal, that point will drive right into your sternum, no breakaway steering columns, let alone steering by wire, there is a good reason to put in an aftermarket depressed center steering wheel if you are going to drive it, I put lap belts in (from Sears) in ’59, and shoulder belt/lap belt combos in ’66 from some auto parts store, complete with bolt and plate on outside of the B pillar. I think one reason the ’55, 56, and 57’s are so beloved is that they were so reliable, compared with the ’58 and ’59’s, and a V8 was available compared with just the 6 in years before. lt was the most reliable car I ever owned until I owned Toyotas.

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  16. John C.

    How many of you guys remember where the gas filler cap is at on a 56 Chev?

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  17. Jack Quantrill

    Came upon a car on fire with the hood up and a guy running to the roadside for handfuls of dirt to throw on it. I had a 2 3/4 lb extinguisher and put the fire out. While looking at the smoking engine , the radiator hose ruptured. We both got covered with rusty red water! Unusual place for an extinguisher, under the hood.

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  18. erikj

    I have a 56 project. I will have to check the gas filler location. Is it like the 57-flip the lid under the taillight ? I will be selling my 56 2 door springtime. Very nice body, it was owned by previous owner since 1981 and taken apart, frame off cleaned ,painted and the body back on. Its a roller with all and more to put back together. Been in a garage all the time. Factory v-8. Now has a 327 or a 283 to go with and a 4spd.

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  19. Fred

    looks like someone added a duel master cylinder. do my eyes deceive me? looks like copper brake lines!

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  20. Dusty Stalz

    This car definitely has character. I’d go thru the underpinnings, drivetrain and interior and make a really dependable driver out of it. After a while when no ones lookin BOOM body and paint.

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  21. charlie Member

    gas filler under left tail light, you turn the vertical chrome piece clockwise and it opens on a hinge. When it was young the gas station attendants knew where it was, when it was 15 I had to open it for them, practice for self service gas I guess. By 1969 when I sold my ’54 Corvette the gas station kids had no idea what it was.

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  22. Had 2

    I had both a Bel Air Coupe (Hardtop) and I then had a 2 door post (B Pillar).
    Is this car a rare one with a post on a Bel Air? Or is it the photo?
    Or did someone add trim to maybe a 210? Help me out here. It’s been many years but I loved ’em both. Won’t say what they sold for then,
    as there were more around.

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    • Rocco in Florida Member

      I had a factory 2 door BelAir with a 6cyl. & 3 on the tree, in ’65. So there were BelAir post(sedan) cars.

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  23. Had 2

    Thanks Rocco. My 2-door hardtop Bel Air had a 265 V8 and a
    Powerglide transmission. (Slip and Slide with Powerglide).
    I wrongly assumed the Bel Air option meant no post. Saw
    some other Bel Airs with no post. The 56’s running around
    locally had the post and were not Bel Air’s.

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  24. Broadside

    Id get it running and drive as is

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