Last post on Jan 09, 2007 at 8:32 PM
You are in the Classic Cars
What is this discussion about?
Aug 19, 2002 (12:53 am)
As you can see, it will be a lot of work. Removing the modifications, will not be too tough of a challenge, it's the rest that will take effort. Returning the car to original factory specifications, or as close to as possible, will be the ultimate goal.
#15 of 63 Mr_Shiftright's opinion...
Aug 19, 2002 (1:48 am)
You say the '51 Chev "...isn't all that valuable or interesting..." It may not be either of those to you, or to anyone else out there for that matter. Not the case for me though. This particular car was purchased brand new in 1950, by my Great Grandfather, and has been passed down through the family line. It is quite valuable, and very interesting to me.
When you say it was "mass produced" and "not a rare" car you imply the old cliche that they are a dime a dozen. That may be true where you live, but not where I live. There are quite a few 55's, and 57's around, and even a couple 56's. But only one 51. In fact I have only ever seen one other in my whole life. I saw it at a classic car show in a really small town somewhere between South Lake Tahoe, and Placerville California. I have been to many classic car shows, and never before had they been graced with a 51 Bel-Air, it was good to see. It sure made a nice sunny day in beautiful central California, a whole lot better.
#16 of 63 Both of you are right...
Aug 19, 2002 (7:59 am)
1951 Chevys were quite plentiful and aren't really anything special I suppose.
Still, for me, they are cars that I remember from my youth fondly. I grew up in a " Chevy Town" and just love those old Chevys.
The only modification I would make would be to split the manifold and add a nice set of glasspacks. Nothing sounds sweeter than a six cylinder Chevy with a set of duals.
However, hondarulesall, I know that Chevy is very dear to you since it belonged to your great grandfather. Still, the cost of putting it back to stock will FAR outweigh it's value.
This will be a VERY EXPENSIVE labor of love if it's even possible. Hopefully it didn't get butchered too badly.
In my hometown most of these got turned into lowriders and one by one, they slowly disappeared.
Hard to believe they are more than fifty years old!
Aug 19, 2002 (8:02 am)
Shifty, did you catch the fact it's a Bel-Air?
Those were the nifty two door hardtops. Not that many were produced. Not like it's a four door sedan as most were.
Aug 19, 2002 (10:17 am)
Yeah, sure, I caught that. But I think it would make a much niftier modified car that you could actually drive somewhere than putting back a 216 engine with anemic power and babbitt bearings and 15 lbs working oil pressure and splash (oil dippers, no full pressure) lubrication.
My goodness, I'm not advocating destroying the car. Everyone will see the same car on the outside and it will be safer and faster modified anyway.
Of course sentimental value cannot be replaced. I'm only saying the car itself was a very ordinary piece of work with no outstanding technical or styling features. It doesn't have to be preserved in its original state, especially the cranky engine. The Smithsonian won't sue you and car collectors worldwide won't weep in anguish if you put in a V-8, it's okay to do it on a car of this type (if you want).
Going back to stock is going to be a huge amount of work and when you're done, you'll have to live with very limited performance on modern roads.
This is why the modified 50s Chevy market is booming right now. People want power steering, disk brakes and the ability to go 70 mph.
#19 of 63 I think for that era...
Aug 19, 2002 (11:13 am)
...a Chevy would be one of the coolest cars to have. I never really liked the Fords from the '49-54 timeframe. The '49-50 or so were more modern-looking for the time, but just not classically handsome like the Chevy. They were also some serious rusters, too. The later Fords, while they had a few more modern features like integrated rear fenders, were just kinda dowdy looking.
Same for the Plymouth. The '49-52's aren't ugly, just kinda dowdy, compared to a Chevy. And the '53-54 were just too stubby, having a roofline of near DeSoto or Chrysler proportions, but on a smallish Plymouth chassis.
As for 6-cylinder engines, how would a 250 inline compare to that older 236? I'm sure the 250 would be plenty durable, and a bit more modern, as well.
Aug 19, 2002 (11:34 am)
A modern six with seven main bearings and full pressure lubrication would be a big step forward.
Personally I'm okay that it has the 283 and four speed. It's a very "period" hop-up in that lots of people were doing it in the '50s and '60s. The swap also makes the car a lot more fun than the stock drivetrain--probably transforms it.
However, I can see how someone like Isell who has an emotional attachment to these cars would want to keep (or re-create) the original driving experience.
The '49-54 Chevies actually weigh more than the '55-7s, even with the same drivetrain. I think it was Andre who mentioned that the pre-'55 Chevies were the last built to stand up to dirt roads.
My impression of the differences between the low-priced Big Three in those days is that the Ford V8 was the hot rod, Chevy had the build quality and Plymouth would run forever with minimal maintenance. Of course by the early '50s the flathead V8 was obsolete. There seems to have been a fair amount of interest in hopping up the Chevy, and more interest in the larger Jimmy sixes.
Aug 19, 2002 (12:26 pm)
Cadillac became a very popular choice for hot rods and track specials before the Chevy 265, as it was one of the first of the post war short stroke V8s (like the Olds Rocket 88).
Regarding the '51 Chevy, I don't see where it makes any more sense to bring it back to original specs than it would to take a modified Ford Model T bucket and turn it back into a Model T roadster.
Sure, if it were already completely original and in good original shape (the proverbial "old lady car"), then maybe, as a 2 door hardtop, you could justify a parial street restoration of an already sound and clean car....but to undo all the damage done from the V8 installation, and to track down a 216 engine, and then all the paintwork, etc.....well, personally, I don't see the wisdom of this type of project. The car's significance doesn't justify it.
However, if you were born in the back seat or something, well, you can throw common sense out the window and enjoy yourself, since you probably aren't into any kind of monetary or status/awards payback.
Aug 19, 2002 (5:16 pm)
If you're talking about GM engine greats then sure, Cadillac was a highly regarded engine throughout the '50s, generally considered the best all around engine, but it fell by the wayside in the '60s.
In the early '50s the Cad and Olds were two of the most modern (and two of the largest) engines but that was when even many mid-range makes were still getting by with small displacement engines dating from the '30s.
By the late '50s Pontiac in particular had caught up in size and was much more performance oriented.
The Ford flathead accounted for most of the hot rod movement into the mid-'50s but the Cadillac and Olds took it to the next level. The Chevy small block's contribution was to bring cheap reliable high performance to the low-priced three.
#23 of 63 some very good points...
Aug 19, 2002 (11:07 pm)
Mr_Shiftright and isellhondas... You both bring up some very excellent points. While the Bel-Air has sentimental value, (semi-mental value as a friend puts it), I definitely was not born in the back seat. Removing the V8 implant and un-doing the "damage" done by it is probably just me dreaming too big. As for the rest of the car, however, it is in amazingly great shape. The only rust spots are on the front bumper, and the rear end/filler panel, between the rear bumper and trunk opening. The bumper is only a couple surface spots and is repairable; all it needs is to be stripped, and re-chromed. The end panel is a different story, you can poke your finger through it. I have a line on an aftermarket replacement, made out of aluminum. I also have some friends keeping an eye out for one at car shows and swap meets in Washington State and around Portland OR. There are a lot of classic car events in those parts. Believe it or not, the rest of the car has no rust, or dents!! And get this... it is the original paint job! Probably does not quite shine like it used to, but it still looks great. And all of the chrome accents are complete and intact. The only things that have been changed are the engine, trans and rear end. Still has the original interior, steering wheel, and even the radio and antenna. It really is a beautiful car, I really love the look of the split windsheild and back glass.
Since this message is getting longer than anticipated, I am going to leave you with a query... As I mentioned before, the 283's bottom end is seized, I have completly rebuilt the heads, but have yet to pull apart the bottom to see if it is even salvagable. If I stay with the V8, and the 283 turns out to be nothing more than a boat anchor, what would you recomend I put in its place??
Sorry it's so long, but again thanks for your help and advice.