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Texas Barn Find: 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

When it comes to the Tri-Fives, it’s hard to go wrong choosing a ’55 for a project, and when it’s a droptop plus the more upscale Bel Air model that sweetens the idea all that much more.  This one’s got all those things going for it, and while it does need a restoration I’m envisioning a fine-looking ride once this ’55 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible here on eBay is completed and back on the road.  You’ll find this Chevy residing in El Paso, Texas, with the asking price set at $42,500, but if that sounds a bit optimistic there’s also the option to submit a lower offer.

The seller tells us his Bel Air had been sitting inside a barn for the past 30 years in Texas until recently, although I’m not sure it’s been quite that long based on the subject matter of the front vinyl sticker on the passenger side unless of course that conspiracy-theory tag got added after the car was parked.  It also looks like the bumper has moderately tapped something at some point, but everything else on the front end seems OK and probably salvageable with some refreshing.

We’re also informed there’s some rust present, but overall it doesn’t appear monumental when compared to the larger amounts often found on these cars.  The body does exhibit some dents and waviness in places along with a few areas showing cracks in the finish, but from what I can tell the rockers don’t look all that bad and the underside also seems reasonably solid.

It appears the interior got some attention a very long time ago including an aftermarket Stereo combined with door panel speakers, and although there’s a wiring mess under the dash the cluster itself looks decent.  On top, the canvas is basically non-existent but the convertible frame is still intact, and while the railing isn’t pretty things could be promising that with some work there may be hope here for saving.

No attempt has been made to start the engine, and also no mention of whether or not it will turn, so if the next owner retains this block I’m guessing an overhaul is going to be in order, based on age and decades of being idle.  But I also wouldn’t be surprised if this one ends up with something more potent under the hood, as it seems ripe for an upgraded motor.  It’s going to take some effort to bring this ’55 Chevy back to its glory days, but I’ve seen far worse starting points on numerous tri-fives in the past and feel this one’s worth the endeavor.  What do you think?


  1. MGM

    I bet this was a looker in is prime. Lots of work to be done. But it’s worth it. Front bumper looks spray can, no big deal. There’s enough good things about this 55 to make it really sweet,but you’re gonna need a few bucks. Hopefully who ever makes the investment will do it right and do it original stock.

    Like 15
  2. Bub

    Tut tut Connecticut mark. Review the comment rules please.

    Like 7
    • Rw

      You are correct Bub,No whiners

      Like 6
  3. Chris Cornetto

    Yup, like my 62 hardtop and some others I have and drove eons ago. This was someone’s late 70s or 80s cruiser. Nice, solid, a great car and a convertible.

    Like 4
  4. Seasport


    Like 4
  5. Claudio

    But, the sticker is right !

    Like 1
    • James Ford

      Looks like a decent car for total restoration since its a convertible. Radio speaker may have come from a 210 or 150 since most drop tops were Belair. The serial # would shead more information on that subject. All in all any Tri-Five is worth what you want to pay for it if you gotta have it!

      Like 0
  6. Jay E. Member

    Price is too high. Even at 20k, the minute this is in your driveway you will be upside down wit a top and paint. It was a very nice car at some point. Looks like a replacement engine. Alternator and power brakes.
    As a DIY it would be doable but not but not at a shop

    Like 25
  7. Shuttle Guy Shuttle Guy Member

    Asking price is embarrassing!

    Like 21
  8. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    My personal favorite of the Tri-5s. Reminds me of the movie “The Morning After” with Jeff Bridges, Jane Fonda, and Raul Julia. Bridges drove a version as ratty as this one around LA in the movie.

    Like 4
  9. Jim

    I remember my Brother picking up a 55′ Chevy convert for $50 with no engine or tranny. At the time we both worked in the same gas station. He traded a 35 hp Johnson outboard for a Vett 327 & 4 speed our boss had laying around. We installed it in the 55′, on the maiden run, he blew a rod through the pan, I dug it out of the street. He then got rid of the car. one of the many 55′,56′ & 57′ Chevys he had back in the 70’s most for around $100………….

    Like 2
    • Jon.in.Chico

      In 1970, I bought a ’55 two-door hardtop for $15, a tray of eggs (we had a chicken farm then), and a half-used can of Turtle Wax … it was orange, had a 409 with cracked block, no tranny, bubble hood, straight axle, and a chair for the “seat” … towed it home with the tractor and took the engine apart (it had an Edelbrock manifold and finned valve covers) … shortly afterwards I left for work – and my girlfriend – in Chicago (drove there in my ’59 Chevy, 283, three-on-the-tree) and signed a $200 loan at the bank (yes, a $200 bank loan) with my grandfather as co-signer as “seed money” for my trip and expenses … a couple months later he said I didn’t have to make a payment as he sold “my old car” and its parts for $25 … some of the memories from “the old days” are quite memorable …

      Like 2
  10. kenzo

    Price is down to $40,000. Maybe it’ll come down to low 5 figures.

    Like 2
  11. Mountainwoodie

    I’d say the ASK is an inside job. I hear crickets chirping.

    Like 3
  12. Charlie Member

    Bent up bumpers may just be result of using bumper jack, notorious. Seats not original, but steering wheel is. Wavey panels are a caution. Had many fine times in a 2 tone green one in the day.

    Like 4
  13. Rickirick

    “It’s going to take some effort to bring this ’55 back to its glory days.” No argument there Mike Stephens. Effort meaning a whole lot of time & very deep pockets. $100 g’s ez. As Jay posted, you’ll be upside down just looking at it in your driveway. That asking price for what seller is offering is just too high imo.

    Like 8
  14. George Birth

    This one has potential but at $40K it shyould be a finished running auto. As it sits with no top the tin worm out there notelling if the floors are solit or not.Factoring the amount of work needing to be done on this including the engine, tranny and brakes, I’d value it at $8 to $10K. Figuring it will need some body work and paint at $10K you would wind up arround $50K when finished.

    Like 5
  15. Gary C

    From the yellow repaint, which included ALL of the weatherstripping (around doors-ON door strikers) to the wrong spotlights, wheels, radio, seats, door jamb dome light switches, revising the ‘80s redo’s/mistakes could get pricy.
    You’d have an investment, yes, just maybe not in the black….

    Like 3
  16. Phil Maniatty

    The instrument panel is from a 150 or 210. The headlight rims are incorrect. I suspect that this car did not start its life as a Bel Air and maybe not as a convertible.

    Like 3
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      That looks like Nomad fender trim there…..

      Like 2
  17. Mike Gordon

    40K? IMO this is a 12 to 15K car IF it’s matching #s.Buena suerte guey. You’re gonna need it.

    Like 2
  18. Big C

    Is the tinfoil hat in the glovebox? The seller is living in an alternate universe with what he’s asking.

    Like 7
  19. Jim C

    “Putty and Paint will make it What it Ain’t” , So will lots of CASH. Tri 5″s and Corvette’s are always something that when found. People think there is gold in them Barns.

    Like 7
  20. Wayne

    Having a ’55 Convert in high school and college. I always pay attention to these cars. I have never seen a convert that was not a Bel Air. I’m not the expert and I never really delved into all the options. BUT, I believe that there were more than one trim level available in the Bel Air line. Mine was all original when I got it and it did not have the same rear bumper. The side trim was the same but, mine did not have the fancy headlight trim that this one has. Mine was not original when I was done. It had a very warmed over 283 and a Saginaw 4 speed. And for any of you that has changed a transmission on a Tri-5 converible, it’s a pain! Convertibles have an additional “X” frame and I had to unbolt the engine mounts and slide the engine forward in order to get the transmission “in the hole” before moving the engine back into place. I loved that car and still wish I had it!

    Like 1
  21. Ashtray

    The passenger side is bulging from body filler from years ago. Body filler inside door jam on driver’s side. Hood and passenger side door is badly misaligned, probably from previous body damage etc.
    I don’t think this is a sound body to start trying to make it into a jewel?
    Probably, wrong motor and won’t even run even if it is correct?
    Someone is going to get a surprise when it’s sand blasted. Or, when they hit it with a 36 grit grinder. Then, the real truth comes out!
    Usually body filler hides a lot, but in this case that doesn’t seem to be working too well.
    It baffles me how some of these folks arrive at their prices?
    Surely they don’t expect this kind of money for a train wreck like this car?
    Just my oponion!

    Like 0
  22. Kenny Jackson

    50k for a cheap frame off,what are they thinking asking 40k that needs everything. 9k tops.

    Like 1
  23. Michael G Snyder

    Check out Maple motors they sell some amazing classics for reasonable prices. He always has tri fives running and driving for about what they want for this beat down 55

    Like 2
    • Ashtray

      My Grandson and I check Maple Motors website every Monday morning to see new arrivals.
      They have a pretty good variety of old cars.

      Like 0
  24. John

    I agree with “ashtray”. This car was saved for a while once. Part it out—let it die in pieces. 🫡

    Like 1
  25. Billy

    Well to begin with, I’m a total Ford fan, but I’m a total Gearhead, I have been since I was a kid in the mid-60s. That said, I do have a little experience with these 55 Chevy. Back then my best friend’s mom had a 55 Bel-Air 2 door hardtop. It was coral over dark grey, with matching interior. It was an inline 6 with a column 3 speed manual transmission. It had a very interesting sounding exhaust system that I can still hear in my head. In 1963, my oldest brother bought a 55 Bel Air deluxe. It too was white over yellow two tone paint, but it wasn’t the same shade of yellow this one is, that means it’s already lived through a repaint. Another thing I noticed was it had the same wrong yellow on the dash, that looks wrong too. My brother’s was a 4 door sedan with green interior, an interesting combination. But my brother’s was all original, and quite the car when it rolled off the line. His had the deluxe bumpers like the rear of this one. The deluxe bumpers had extra chrome pieces mounted to the bumpers. This one is missing that extra bumper trim. From reading the comments of the other posters, a lot of you guys found a lot of other things wrong with this one that in my opinion would have to be corrected. That said, and considering the number of other 55s available, many undoubtedly in better shape than this one. Add in the incredibly high asking price, and I will have to agree this one should be parted out for as much as one could possibly get for this non-original example with very little original qualities. Just because something is old doesn’t make it better. RIP.

    Like 2
    • Ashtray

      I’m pretty sure the yellow color is way off?
      Why not at least paint it the correct shade of yellow? It was even prettier than this Earl Sheib color.
      That tells me the professionalism they used to put this car back together.
      Just my oponion!

      Like 0

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