Solid Potential: 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

A recent Barn Find that could use some help, this 1954 Bel Air isn’t a driver but has some “solid” qualities that make it a worthwhile car to invest some time and effort into. Fairly complete, this Bel Air has a great patina as per the seller’s description, but this Chevy may be better suited for a restoration. With 6 days remaining, the opening bid of $2,250 is still open or the buy it now price of $3,000 will get you this Chevy. Check it out here on ebay out of Point Clear, Alabama.

The original 235 cubic inch inline 6 is still present, but is locked solid without a cylinder head, and some other missing parts. A Chevy 350 V8 would propel this car nicely, and this is even a factory 3 speed manual transmission car. There is a generous amount of surface rust all over the engine bay, but there doesn’t appear to be any rotted or thin areas. The inner fenders are solid, as is the firewall, giving some hope for this American classic.

Inside there is a worn bench seat, and some beat up door panels. The dash wears a nice patina and the dash trim is all accounted for. The temperature control is misaligned, but the remainder of the dash components are in place. Surprisingly the steering wheel is in nice condition with no cracking from heat or sun exposure. The interior carpeting is missing but in this case it is nice as the floors can be examined. There are a few rust spots in the floors, but the flooring is quite solid in this Bel Air. There is a hole near the driver foot area where the frame and body meet. Also there is small area in the driver rear foot well. These areas although rusted do not appear to be terribly thin, where patch panels could likely be used instead of replacing the entire floor. The passenger side floor looks quite solid, as does the trunk floor.

The exterior is lightly glazed with surface rust, but there are a few minor areas of concern. There is a small rectangle about 2” by 5” cut out of the driver side door along the trim line. There was surely some rot there that has been cut out there as well as on the driver side lower quarter panel. Also there appears to be a small area of rot on the “C” pillar between the rear window and the side window. Also the rockers are borderline crispy with rust, and perhaps some rot as well. It is difficult to make out from the images. Despite the heavy patina and other flaws, this Chevrolet looks like a worthwhile roller that could certainly be put back on the road. Would you jump on this Bel Air project for the $2,250 asking price?

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  1. glen

    I’d have to be doing some serious drinking before I could leave a comment like that! I’m giving you a thumbs up.

  2. GP Member

    I just got done cleaning the beer out of my key board on that one. It looks a lot better now, I saved that one.

    • geomechs

      For me it was tea. But tea still stings my sinuses….

  3. Dave Wright

    Comment of the month……and a candidate for best in the year…….

  4. geomechs

    That IS funny!!!! I also agree that this is a worthwhile car to restore. These old ‘jellybean’ Chevies have got a class all their own and they need to be preserved/restored and enjoyed.

  5. Rock On

    Would keep a straight 6 in it, but a 292 GMC for a bit more grunt.

    • Dave Wright

      Or really surprise people with a warmed over GMC 302………….I had a buddy with one set up like that…..would really run.

  6. Blyndgesser

    An Art Morrison chassis would be a nice choice here.

  7. Rock On

    The 292 bores out to a 302 when you clean it up with an overbore and some new pistons!

    • Dave Wright

      How do you change the stroke to 4″?

  8. Dave Wright

    As I remember, the 302’s came with all forged internals and a larger bearing surface. My buddy had a 3 carb set up, a high lift cam, high compression flat top pistons, a shaved head, header performance exhaust with a cutout. He drove it every day. I like the 292’s a lot but they are a cut below the 302.

  9. jmuder

    The hole in the door is there because both inner and outer door handles were bad.

  10. XMA0891

    This is the first car I remember my parents owning. So many memories: The three-on-the-tree, the dash, the big steering wheel, the bench seat. Theirs was also a two door and had a two-tone paint. Even as a tot in the front – without a seat-belt – I can remember my mother telling me where to place my feet as I got in, lest I risk putting them through the floor. How did any of us make it?

  11. Howard A Member

    This is a great find. Seems everybody has a early 50’s Chevy story. My buddy John’s parents down the block had a Chevy like this. It was one of the 1st cars, other than the old man’s DeSoto I remember riding in. I remember watching John’s dad row the gearshift lever. (My dad always had automatics).How this car escaped the hot-rod scene is a miracle in itself. This ’54 Chevy “Highboy”, as it was called, was THE Chevy to have for drag racing. Many were turned into gassers, but the rest, were just good ol’ shade tree mechanics cars, with who knows what kind of motor, usually an Olds. That’s what I’d do with this, make a retro hot rod out of it.( not too nuts though, something driveable) There simply can’t be many of these left. I made several models of this car as a kid.

  12. Cebo

    Not a Bel Air. It’s a 210

  13. Joseph

    Any stove bolt inline six would be nice in this chevy. With putting a 292 .the bell housing bolt holes are the same as a small block chevy which will not accept the o.g. 3 spd. There are however conversion kits forbetween the o.g. bellhousing and 292 or sbc v8s . A 235 would work geat. This in turn will save you alot of money by not having to change out the whole driveline due to the enclosed driveshaft problems.I learned the hardway. Hope this helps.

  14. Rustytech

    My grand dad had a 53, green with white top, it was his first non Studebaker. He always said it was “ok” but was no Studebaker.


    Just saw this post, here is my 54 Chevy story: In 1972 I bought one, I think it was a BelAir. Had a clock, a tube radio, and an automatic. Was that the first year for Chevy automatics? Anyway, I paid $20 for this beauty, and it burned 2 qts of oil per day, and just barely got me to High School and back, every day. Many folks would shake their fists at me (rightfully so) because it smoked so bad. I looked like the mosquito abatement guys. The radio would only work about 20 seconds after going over a big bump, when the tubes warmed up. One day, I pulled the head, not sure what I would find, and I could wiggle the pistons inside the cylinder.One piston had a large chunk off the top, at the edge…wonder where that went? I put it back together, and gave it to a friend of mine. We were both happy. I saw the friend a couple months later, asked him if it still ran. He shrugged his shoulders and said “I don’t know, somebody stole it from me” Still makes me laugh. Kinda felt sorry for the car thief.


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