Tri-Five More Door: 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

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From Barn Finds reader Randy C. comes the tip for this 1955 Chevrolet sedan. It’s located for sale here on craigslist in Winston-Salem North Carolina. The asking price is $12,500.

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At first glance that number might sound higher than it should be for a four door, take a closer look before you decide. The seller says this car is all-original, including upholstery and paint.

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The odometer reading is 69,000. Could this be for real? It looks like it might.  Take a look inside. Although complete interior reproduction upholstery kits are available for this model, this one looks like it might be genuine GM.

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The seller is astute enough to include these excellent photos in his ad, and shows us all the right parts, most of the things we would want to see if we were looking at this car up close.

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Check out the dog-leg, door jamb sill and rocker area on this side. It looks solid and original and great. Nice to see the original trim, color, hubcaps, everything.

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Another view shows the lower left front fender, rocker, and corner of the door. It looks pristine, and as solid as can be.

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A view of the driver’s side rear wheel opening. Another solid dog leg, nice original wheel cover, and even the body-colored wheel.

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The pedals inside continue with the low mileage original look. How about the instrument panel, complete with color matched steering wheel, and factory-installed AM radio?

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But as could be expected with many all-original cars, it has a flaw. The passenger door is dented as shown.

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But rather than downplay the damage with a long view of the dent, the seller shows us up close, so we can get a good look at it, and give us an idea of exactly what we might be dealing with. This doesn’t look so bad, does it?

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A look under the hood shows us what must be the original 265 cubic inch V8. Please remove your hat and humble yourself before the beginning of history. Back in 2011, GM announced they had built the one hundred millionth small block engine. To call it one of the most successful industrial designs in human history is to seriously understate the fact. Right here, is where it all began.

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Variants of the mighty small block are still being made today, by GM and others, more than sixty years later. Elemental automotive history, right under the hood of this car. This one is coupled to a column-shifted Powerglide transmission.

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The weakest of the bunch, is this trunk photo. It shows a new tire, so we might assume the other four are newer too, but the description doesn’t say so, or even whether the car runs or drives. We can see the lower trunk opening surround area is solid, like the rest of the car, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing a photo of the bare trunk floor, and without all the included clutter. One of the boxes appears to be for a remanufactured carburetor, so maybe we can infer some things by seeing this photo after all.

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I love the dealer’s plaque under the emblem on the trunk. The link for this car was forwarded to us as a ‘great start for a project’, but I respectfully digress. Other than fixing the door, the real project here, the real goal, is keeping hands off of this car. To not do too much. Drive and show it occasionally, and beyond that, leave it alone as much as possible. Don’t change a thing. That’s how I see it. How do you see it?

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Comments

  1. MeepMeep

    As it sits, do the expected mechanical requirements then,install a set of fender skirts just to help the body lines flow a little better given it’s excessive doors (which I love)….shoe those factory rims with some wide white skins (as well as the spare), then get in it, breath in the old car funk (aahhh) and drive it ! Open all of the windows, hang yer arm out and cruise it, dreaming of what you’ll do to it to make it your’s. The only music you will need is the sound of that engine…no radio required !

  2. DrinkinGasoline

    That R/F door skin, as well as the stainless trim can be easily massaged back into respectability. A few hours labor at best. My 51 Merc’s R/F door had a similar mishap when I purchased it. One weekend of careful massaging of the door skin with a torch and body block tools, and another weekend for the stainless trim and it was ready for repaint. All using old school wood rollers, 1950’s body hammers and body block tools (My Grandfather’s). Something to be said for hand tools and a little patience.

    • Texas Tea

      Hey DrinkinGasoline, Do you think a good metal man could roll this metal enough to keep the original paint in place and look good enough too without a respray on the door? I think that would be cool and not have a mis-match of colors with the patina. I’m no paint and body man and wouldn’t have a clue.

      Nice old 55 and would be fun to drive.

      • DrinkinGasoline

        It would need an eyeball inspection to see if any paint cracks occurred when it was damaged. If the panel was dented/stretched without the paint being compromised, then yes, it could be massaged out, maintaining the original paint. Lacquer paint (commonly used during this period) is more forgiving and tended to flex with metal. When lacquer was sprayed, it was layered in multiple coats vs. enamels or polyurethanes, allowing for flexibility with heat/cold, expansion/contraction. And yes, It would be very cool to smooth that door out without having to mess with that original paint at all. I would welcome that challenge. Keep in mind though, after the door was done, I’d want to at least detail the complete car…just to blend it all out….just sayin’

    • Ed P

      How many of today’s body mechanics would know what all those hammers and blocks are for, much less take the time to use them?

      • DrinkinGasoline

        I know, and I do, but I get Your point.

  3. Woodie Man

    Love the color,screams fifties. Kind of strange that a stripper four door came with a V8….it looks like it should have a Stovebolt.

    But they’re only original once so what it’s worth is what someone will pay…if it is all original kind of remarkable that it has survived in such fine fettle

  4. MeepMeep

    It is a BelAir ,so the V8 option is not that unusual during that period given that the OHV V8 was being introduced during that time. I am old enough to remember when cars could be ordered in many configurations…lol, dating myself. I digress.

  5. DrinkinGasoline

    At My age, I do realize that body panel repair is a lost art. I grew up with a Father and Brothers who had many vehicles over many years that required many repairs, body and mechanical, all of which were done in our garage. I was fortunate to learn quite a bit. At 16 years old, my first car was a ’39 Chevy four door sedan. “Never trust a dealer, they are crooks” my Dad said. Well, I went on to work for those dealers, and Dad was right, they where…..crooks. Guess I had to learn the hard way. What does all this rambling mean? To most, not much, but to some, it may mean tackling a Barn Find Project and maybe realizing a dream (I hope) !

  6. Kemosobe

    Ted Vernon on the show South Beach Classic’s stated on a recent show that Cuba is going to need a lot more taxis now that that our relationship is changing. This would be a great candidate for a taxi as old cars will be part of Cuba’s history for a long time.

  7. SHO-NUFF

    Original 265 V-8 correct with the add on oil filter mounted on the water outlet.

  8. Alan Brase

    GREAT color combo, coral and charcoal. WAY too nice to be a Cuban taxi. Having seen (and destroyed) a couple original 1955 265 engines, I have to say, this one does look completely correct. Bypass oil filter on top, early exhausts, early air cleaner. Also, I notice it has the optional electric wiper motor. Very much nicer if you need wipers very much.
    And, DrinknGasoline: do tell more. Where can I learn more about old school metal finishing and WOOD ROLLERS?

    • Garage Maven

      If you’d like to learn about massaging metal pick up “The Key to Metal Bumping;: An instructive manual of body and fender repair practices” it is the definitive book on old school autobody. Complete with pics!

  9. DRV

    Having having the dent wizard to my house last year, I had him do dings in 3 different cars. His modern favorite metal to massage was my 2000 BMW , and he took,out what I thought was impossible and stretched.
    He said the thicker after the American cars were much more controllable and predictable to remove the larger dents

  10. DRV

    The above was not correctable on my iPad..correct please “thicker after the 40’s American cars” ….
    This car is in the same condition my 544 is , which I found here 6 years ago. The black finish rubbed out beautifully, but gets oxidized with shorter and shorter time. I am going to coat it with a water based clear poly which was designed for fiberglass gel coat on boats, with a brush. Don’t laugh, I have seen it and it was great and easy.
    Has Anybody here done anything like that?

  11. Rando

    The seller here seems to have right many cars listed “for a friend”. Not sure of the story there, but I have seen several cars with that same style of listing. If anyone were interested, I could possibly go take a look. If it’s in King, NC, that’s 20 – 30 minutes from me. If I had the money, you guys would be reading this about MY new find…LOL

  12. Mark S Member

    One thing that must be said about four door cars is when it comes to getting the family involved in show and shine or old car rallies they are much more pleasant than your 2 door coupe and hard tops. I’m restoring a two door hard top and I have to say getting in and out of the back seat is a royal pain in the @$$. I’ve noticed by watching this site that with the shrinking supply of restoreable 2 door cars there seams to be a growing exceptance for 4 door cars, which is great as they are also a big part of automotive history. As for fixing the door, I’m not a professional body man but I have some good success pushing out similar dent in my car by placing a piece of 1/4 or 3/8 plywood on the dent from the inside of the door and with a 2×4 on thecentre of the plywood pushing with even pressure was able to reverse most of the dent. The bigger the ply the better. Be care while you do this watch the dent closely, the 2×4 can be back stopped against the tran tunnel. After that then go back and finish up with body tools.

  13. bowtiecarguy

    Also has a signal seeking Wonderbar am radio. Paint colors are Navajo Tan and and Shadow Gray. The coral color has a little more pink to it.

  14. Charles

    My favorite color combo for 1955. Really in great shape, would not take too much to repair the passenger side door. Give the car some intensive TLC, clean the engine, clay bar, clean and wax the paint, change fluids, belts, hoses, etc., ready to go!

    • Ed P

      I love the colors also. They just scream 1950’s.

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