Ready for Finishing: 1956 Chevy Bel Air

There’s a point in every project where you’re either in or you’re out. Once you start buying enough parts to stock a Pep Boys and leaving engines with machine shops for months at a time, you’re signing up for the long haul – or so you may think. Sometimes, the projects simply stall no matter how much prep work is done. This 1956 Chevy Bel Air here on eBay is an unfinished project with some heavy lifting already done but more yet to do. 

You can tell there were big plans for this car, not only by the spare parts that will come with it but also because the engine was removed for paint and is now just sitting in the engine bay, waiting to be hooked up. Equipped with a 265 and Powerglide, this would make a darn nice cruiser once it’s finished. The seller alludes to “amateur” body work, which could be perceived one of two ways: good enough to be a Sunday driver, or not good at all.

On the insides, the front floor pans were replaced. The rear pans still need work, and the seller expects to have the carpet work finished before the next owner takes possession. That seems kind of pointless to me if the rear floors need replacing, but that’s the seller’s call. The interior overall looks decent, with an attractive dashboard, presentable steering wheel and recently reupholstered front and rear seats. There’s also rust present in the door bottoms and some areas in the trunk.

That looks to me like a collection of spare parts, but I suppose they could be junk, too. Whatever it is, it’s hiding the rust in the trunk floor! Bidding is approaching $14,000 and the reserve remains unmet, but it’s clear bidders see potential in this unfinished Bel Air project. The work that has been done appears competent, and saves the next owner some of the more time-consuming tasks like fitting up a new interior. What do you think would be a fair price for this unfinished project?


  1. 68 custom

    looks like a rusty 56 pretending to be a decent 56. the undercarriage looks worrisome. to bad cause I love the 56’s and this one is nicely equipped good color combo ETC.

  2. John S

    According to Hagertys-
    Current Values

    #1 Concours$57,500
    #2 Excellent$41,000
    #3 Good$29,600
    #4 Fair$21,600
    Value Adjustments

    -20% for 6-cyl.

    • G.P. Member

      Rich people driving up the price for rich people to sell.

  3. Ben T. Spanner

    Some before pictures would be nice. Hard to judge from published pictures. How about a picture of a magnet sticking to the lower quarter panel. It may not.

    I like tri fives. Value all depends upon condition which would require a personal inspection. Per the previous post, values swing thousands depending on condition.

    • Jerry HW Brentnell

      pictures lie like rugs! for instance anybody on here remember bob wingate out of california! he had a magic camera! he used to advertise in the back pages of hot rod! tri five chevs were his specialty a customer bought a mint 57 bel air hardtop of him in the pictures it was sweet! but it needed everything! didn’t even run!

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I don’t know if I could justify the price. From what I see underneath, I’d want to pull the body right off and do it up properly. The frame itself makes me nervous. Other than that, the ’56 is my favorite of the Tri-Fives. The 265 is a plus although I’d want to know more about what shape it’s really in.

  5. JW

    Seems pretty silly to buy all these parts and redo the seats rather than tackle the body work and paint first, he is covering up rust issues. Not good… Pass !!!

  6. Woodie Man

    From the peanut gallery perspective seems like the project was done assbackwards…beautiful interior but given the obvious metalwork that needs to be done, one wonders why. Pulling the block to paint the engine compartment and then what……discovered that the frame was so rusted it needed attention? Clearly being sold by someone other than the person who did the work. Hmmmmmm…

    That said, nothing I would rather have than a ’56 2 door hardtop. Back in the mid eighties I passed on an absolutely near perfect w original plastic covers on the seats turquoise ’57 hardtop for 11K. I thought it was too expensive!

    But as others have said, even as a driver this will need the body pulled to arrest the rust. Nice color combo too.

  7. Fred W.

    When the seller says “amateur bodywork”, its time to arrange a pre purchase inspection.

  8. Howard A Member

    I’m a big Adam-12 fan, and on season 4 episode 9,( 1971) the “boys” get called to a disturbance at a used car lot.( a Corvair, $100, a Falcon, $299, among others) There they find the lot owner, Mr. Moore ( Robert Emhardt) arguing with a man, about him wanting to return a used car he just bought, but was unsatisfied, and wanted his money back. The car was a ’56 2 door, just like this. Malloy, who sides with the buyer, exclaims to Mr. Moore, “you’re asking $600 dollars for this heap?”

    • Woodie Man

      A renaissance man you are Howard! lol. My taste ran to Highway Patrol…..

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Highway Patrol for me too, Woodie Man. I just got through watching all of the episodes on YouTube….

  9. Had 2

    Hooray. Nice to see a Bel Air without a post. A hardtop.
    Thanks for posting Barn Find

  10. Kevin Wernick

    Oh look, another shevy. Yaddy yaddy yadda

    • Rex Kahrs Member

      I can’t understand why BF feels it’s necessary to “hide” a comment. I mean, the guy is just expressing his opinion, which the First Amendment grants to us Americans.

      And if they are trying to protect the readers from opinions that would be unpopular, well, that’s censorship and it isn’t necessary…we’re all big boys here, and we can read a comment like that and decide for ourselves. There wasn’t any violation of the posting rules…no profanity, politics, or personal attacks, so why hide the comment? Hiding the comment only makes me want to click on it so I can read it. Thanks but no thanks for the censorship.

      • Kevin Wernick

        I’m with you. I’ve had several comments hidden. If someone doesn’t like someone else’s opinion, they’re free not to read it

      • Woodie Man

        While I too find the hiding of comments to be unnecessary, it has nothimg to do with the First Amendment. If this were a government website and the government censored your comment you might have a case… the First Amendment applies only to govt suppression of speech

        Given the tendency of people to be a little expansive in their comments on the Internet , i.e., lacking the filter one acquires in face to face communication, this may be an attempt to keep comments free of bile. Personally I don’t favor it but it’s not my website.

  11. Mark S

    In the top set of pictures when you get a look at the floor pan work it looks like the pan is held in by a ton of silicone sealer and some screws, this will need to be redone and fully welded in. Then on the lower set of pictures #11 I think there is a picture of an external body panal with 2 bondo patches on it. Know I’m not against bondo when it’s properly applied on solid metal. ( not rust holes ) I’d say there is a good chance based on the evidence that this is a bondo buck. Know that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be saved but what it does mean is the new owner is looking at a body off restoration. You’ll be pulling those seats out and door cards off and putting them into storage while you go through every inch of this car to do it up right. All that said I think I’d want to pay a lot less for it.

  12. Rustytech Member

    Nice looking car, but for the money I’d rather have the Plymouth!

  13. bob

    am i nuts? to me people are way over paying for some of these “barn finds”. unless they can do most of the resto by themselves, they could never break even on most of these cars. big block, limited production maybe, but just run of the mill cars, it just doesn’t seem to make any sense. what goes up, must come down.

  14. RicK

    Am I the only one on BF that remembers Greg Brady’s $100 ’56 Chev convertible on Season 3, Episode 4 of The Brady Bunch “The Wheeler Dealer” (1971). Look for a young Charles Martin Smith as Greg’s” mark”.

  15. Dave

    I sold my 55 2 door post with great body and new 327 with Muncie 4 speed for $650. My friend sold his 57 2 door post with a brand new 427 and brand new Muncie for $1200. We were both glad to get those prices. The year 1969. I knew a guy in town who bought a 69 L88 Corvette new for $4400. That was a lot of money for me who made $80 a week. To bad nobody makes a new steel 55-57 Chevy. I know they make the 49-53 chevy truck for $5500. A new Art Morrison chassis another $6000. I would go that way.

  16. Brad

    I thought that these came with white front turn signal lenses, with clear bulbs. Were the amber lenses an option ?

  17. Rex Kahrs Member

    Point taken Woodie. There’s some irony in your comment, in that these days it’s the government that has no filter!

    • Woodie Man

      Unintended irony I assure you!

  18. joeinthousandoaks

    Speaking of TV shows. Greg Brady bought a black ’56 Convertible from a friend and thought he’d gotten taken because it didn’t make home. I think he paid $200 for it and tried to shove it off on another unsuspecting teen. Man I wish I had that deal. This car however needs everything, not finishing. The colors look odd to me. Is it faded red or salmon?

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