Last post on Jan 09, 2007 at 7:32 PM
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Aug 16, 2002 (10:30 pm)
Can anyone tell me what the OEM engine would, or could, have been in a 51 Chev. Bel-Air, 2dr hard top?? All I know is that it was a flat head.
#2 of 63 I'm no expert....
Aug 17, 2002 (6:54 am)
but I'm pretty sure it was a version of the famous
Chevy "Stovebolt Six". This was perhaps the second greatest engine ever made by GM, it dated back to at least the mid-30s.
Better do some research if you're going to undertake a project like that. Perhaps Hemmings can help.
#3 of 63 specs for the only '51 Chevy passenger car engine
Aug 17, 2002 (1:42 pm)
Cast iron, OHV Inline six, 235.5 cubic inches, with Rochester model BC one-barrel carburator. Bore and stroke=3-9/16x3-15/16", four main bearings, hydraulic valve lifters, Compression ratio 6.7:1, 105hp 3600 rpm.
I would definitely consider putting in a small, very mild V8 in this car, unless you want to do 'all factory'.
Aug 17, 2002 (3:56 pm)
That's right, not a flathead. Was the 235 optional or standard in that model? I always thought you had to wait until '53 to get the 235 standard, but my memory is hazy on this one.
It's a car you could either rod or leave stock, since a restored stock one or a nicely done rod would be worth about the same---perhaps the rod even a bit more.
Aug 17, 2002 (4:43 pm)
If that Chevy came with a Powerglide (automatic) transmission, then it would have the 235 with hydraulic lifters etc.
If, on the other hand it's a manual transmission it would have the 216 engine. These still used babbit bearings. They were pretty tough but not nearly as durable as a 235.
And I strongly disagree with ghulet. If the car is a nice original please do not Mickey Mouse it up by stuffing a V-8 into it.
If you really want a V-8 buy a car that came with one in the first place.
BTW...I just love those old Chevys!
Aug 17, 2002 (6:45 pm)
How about one of the Jimmy sixes? What were they, 270 and 302? There was also a 261 truck version of the stovebolt.
Aug 17, 2002 (8:39 pm)
My bad, I didn't realize the 235 was a 'Powerglide only' engine (until 1952; in '53, the 235 was standard across the board).
The standard engine: OHV 216.5 cubic inches, cast iron block, bore and stroke 3-1/2 x 3-3/4, compression ratio 6.6:1, four main bearings, solid valve lifters, and Stromberg, Rochester or Carter one-barrel carbs used in mixed production. 92hp at 3400rpm.
I guess I can see the merits of keeping the car, including the engine, completely stock, if you value originality above all else, including drivability. I can't help but imagine, though, spending more money redoing the weak stock engine as opposed to just dropping a crate V8 (a quiet, mild one; I'm not talking about a monster BB with headers and a hood scoop here) in it and having reasonable highway performance. After all, stock, we're talking about 92 gross horsepower (unless it is a 235/PG, in which case it's 105hp) in a 3215 pound car. I personally don't see the harm, especially in a car that isn't super valuable or terribly dependant on originality for value, in giving it some extra power. Of course, if you do go with a V8, some other things might need changing or upgrading (brakes, steering, suspension, transmission and/or clutch), so keeping the six might just be easier in the long run.
I would keep the body and interior bone stock in either case; stock early '50s Chevies are rare compared to the chopped/frenched/overpainted/tuck-and-roll varieties, which seem to be a dime a dozen.
Just my four cents. Good luck either way. Let us know how you progress.
#8 of 63 thanks for the useful info...
Aug 18, 2002 (12:07 am)
Hi everyone, thanks a lot for the useful info. At this point I am not sure what route to go. The car has a 283 bored 60 over, with 4 speed manual. The motor is cooked, and I think seized. (had some water leak into intake manifold while it was in storage!) I have pulled the heads off, and had them machined, and ported with new sodium filled valves etc. But now I am not sure if I want to keep the mill in it or not. Need to figure that one out before any more time and money is spent on the bottom end.
Aug 18, 2002 (12:15 am)
You are right about the need to upgrade other things with a V8... when the 283 was in its prime, the rear end blew out several times. My Dad used to street race the car on the long praire highways in central Canada. He went through quite a few diffs. I believe it sports a Ford 9" now, but am not positive on that one.
Aug 18, 2002 (8:14 am)
The first post said "restoring the car to factory specs".
It's already been ....well...I'll be nice...."modified".
The "factory specs" went away long ago.
So at this point it doesn't really matter.