Last post on Aug 16, 2009 at 7:20 PM
You are in the Classic Cars
What is this discussion about?
Chevrolet, Classic Cars, Sedan
#1 of 36 54 Chevy Bel Air hartop
Aug 30, 2007 (2:03 pm)
Trying to restore a 54 Chevy bel air sedan.
Anyone have some knowledge you may drop on the subject? Stock specs or any mod suggestions?
Still has the stock inline 6 with a 32/36 bolted on , any suggestions for better carbueration?
This is my friends project and we are both new to restoration but looking for any knowledge that one may be able to drop on us. We don't mind the challenge/task n headaches cause we're here to learn, we believe you gotta start some where so any help will be appreciated, thanks for your time peace, justin
#2 of 36 Re: 54 Chevy Bel Air hartop [ogre_bear]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 30, 2007 (4:46 pm)
I think I'd approach the car in this order:
1. What do I want to end up with? A stock /54 restored like Chevy made it? OR an "improved" /54 Chevy that looks real stock but has better motor, brakes, exhaust and is more fun to drive? OR a real "rod" with big motor, radical paintwork, big wheels, unusual interior with digital gauges, super-sound, etc? OR do you just want to tinker with it WHILE you're driving it, like a p/t hobby car that you can use?
2. Once you know your goal, then you work up a budget. How much money do you want to have in this car as a grand total? Have you added up all that you want to do? Are you numbers realistic?
3. How much of the work can you do yourself and how much will you farm out? Where will you do this work? Do you care how long it takes?
So once you have a plan, a place, and a budget, you can start on it.
#3 of 36 Re: 54 Chevy Bel Air hartop [Mr_Shiftright]
Aug 31, 2007 (6:58 am)
A guy I worked with (he's now retired) has a nice 54 Bel Air. 350/350 GM drivetrain, body bone stock, lifted slightly in the rear with classic American Racing alloys. Upgraded interior. It's a classic ride.
#4 of 36 Re: 54 Chevy Bel Air hartop [burdawg]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Aug 31, 2007 (7:36 am)
That's really a good way to go. Sensible guy. I'd add power steering and front disk brakes and one of those add-on vintage AC kits. Then it's just about the perfect ride (for me). Those old barges were really hard to steer and you got lots of engine and trans heat through the bare firewall and floors.
Oh yeah, I'd put Dyna-mat down on the floors and inner firewall, too, to keep heat out.
Sep 02, 2007 (7:42 am)
Well, our much respected host and I disagree on this subject.
The bottom line, do you want a cool 1954 Chevy to drive around in or do you want "something else"?
Do you want it stock as it was designed or do you want it "Mickey Moused?" I can give you a strong argument either way. Just remember, they are only stock once.
I had a 54 Chevy Bel Air and it was one sweet ride in it's stock condition. It steered well, stopped well and cruised the freeways of So. Calif at 70 MPH with no problems.
I never felt any excess heat through the firewall although this can be a problem with some old cars.
It did have a split manifold for that wonderful sound only a Chevy six can produce. The 235 engine is a strong workhorse, and if it has a Powerglide, it will hold up well.
Usually, these arent daily drivers. They don't have to handle or stop like a BMW.
Is it a hardtop or a sedan? You weren't clear. If it's a 2 door hardtop, then it would really be a shame ( I know, my jaded opinion) to make it something it never was intended to be.
Sorry, Joe, I respect and even agree somewhat with you on this but to me, it's a shame to mes with an old Chevy!
Now...if it were a Ford we were talking about....
#6 of 36 Is there any way...
Sep 02, 2007 (8:01 am)
to add the stuff like power front disc brakes without actually butchering the car up? For instance, if all the old hardware was held onto and put into storage, would it be possible to just bolt it back on, if some future owner wanted to put the car back to original condition?
Or would doing those mods require a bunch of cutting, welding, etc, to the point that the old stuff would never go back on?
#7 of 36 Re: Is there any way... [andre1969]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Sep 02, 2007 (8:06 am)
The poster did say "sedan" so I was working on that premise, that this is a 4-door car. Isell and I aren't so much in disagreement about not chopping up a 2-door hardtop, but a '54 Chevy sedan is the type of car you want to consider very very carefully before investing a lot of money. Not only is it modest in looks and performance, but very few people are going to stop and appreciate it.
However, if you give it some juice with nicer wheels and a good V8 rumble, well then the picture changes. Then you have a mild street rod. You have more fun. The spectator has more fun.
Yes! You can modify to power steering and disk brakes without cutting or changing anything permanently. It's not that easy but you can return the car to originality--although again, with a sedan, I don't know why you would.
Just look at the value of a Ford or Chevy sedan from 1927. In 80 years, they are still worth less than a used Hyundai---so with an early 50s sedan, you aren't sittin' on a gold mine here.
#8 of 36 Re: Is there any way... [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 02, 2007 (8:52 am)
In the heading of his post it said hardtop and later, he said it was a sedan so I don't know.
to answer Andre, yes, they can be converted to disk brakes without butchering the car but, WHY?
It's almost like some people think the old drum brakes were dangerous or inferior. If they are adjusted properly and working well, they will quickly skid the car to a stop if necessary. Yes, disks won't heat up or fade as much, but, again, people shouldn't drive a 54 Chevy as they would a modern car and any sensible person wouldn't.
Last night, at the local car show, thre was a 1953 Chevy convertable. At least it had been at one time. Undr the hood sat a small black Chevy engine of some kind. The Powerglide had been replaced with a floor mounted who knows what. The stock guages had been replaced with modern digital ones etc. It was a nice car to be sure but it sure wasn't a sweet, stock 53 Bel Air convertable.
To each his own...
#9 of 36 Re: Is there any way... [isellhondas]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Sep 02, 2007 (8:56 am)
The disk brakes are only necessary if you swap out the anemic 6 for a big V8. If you keep the stock 235, then drum brakes are fine. But with triple the horsepower, you'd better have disk brakes on there. This is exactly what the Big Three did anyway, as their HP increased in the 1960s.
Sep 02, 2007 (9:45 am)
If you're going to drop a V-8 in there the car is pretty much doomed as an original so what the heck.
I don't think once a V-8 has been installed that it would be possible to return the car to stock. Too many things have to be cut.
One time I decided to see what the top speed of my 54 Bel Air was. I got to 92 MPH and it wouldn't go any faster.
It wasn't TOO anemic for what it was.
Another time I blasted through a tunnel at about 80MPH with my dual pipes blasting like mad only to discover a motorcycle cop hiding outside the tunnel.
He was NOT amused nor was he a big fan of split manifolds and 18" glasspacks!