1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop Custom Full Body-off-the-Frame Restoration!

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air/150/210 Bel Air

Condition: Used
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Bel Air/150/210
Trim: Bel Air
Year: 1955
Mileage: 7,700
VIN: VC55L-034502
Color: GM Medium Garnet Red Poly
Engine: 350cid ZZ3
Cylinders: 8
Transmission: Automatic
Drive type: RWD
Interior color: Slate Gray
Vehicle Title: Clear
Item location: Bend, Oregon, United States
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Description for Chevrolet Bel Air/150/210 1955

1955 Chevrolet Belair Hardtop

I have owned this 1955 Chevrolet Belair hardtop since 1983. It was built at the Van Nuys, CA plant in May, 1955. Always a desert Arizona car, I purchased it in Douglas, AZ, a small town on the Mexican border. The original colors were turquoise and white, with a matching interior. Its original drivetrain was a 265ci V8 / 3speed manual transmission.

Between 1992 and 1997, I performed a complete body-off-the-frame 1400+ hour rebuilt of the entire car. If you’re are truly interest in it, you will appreciate the detailed information that follows. If you’re just passing through, you’ll probably get bored and move on. Sorry to have wasted your time! :)

Upgrades made during the rebuilt include; 1995 GM ZZ3 350ci engine, turbo 350 automatic transmission, power steering, power front disc brakes, air conditioning, lowered front suspension and dual exhaust. The paint color is GM Medium Garnett Red Poly. The roof color is GM White Diamond Pearl. The interior paint color is Dark Slate. The paint is PPG Deltron Basecoat/Clearcoat.

After completion in 1997, it was judged three times in 1000 point competition;

1997 Classic Chevy Int’l Convention, Reno, NV – 982 points & “Platinum Award”

1999 Bowtie Chevys Int’l Convention, Ventura, CA – 990 points & “Gold Award”

2002 Classic Chevy Western Nat’l Convention, San Diego, CA – 999 points & “Platinum Award” (High Point car, also awarded “Best of Show”)

This classic has been a magazine feature car of both;

Classic Chevy International (CCI) – January, 2003

Bowtie Chevys (BTC) – January, 2000

Since then, it has been maintained in show condition, driven locally and enclosed trailered longer distances. It has been driven less than 7800 miles since the restoration was completed in 1997!

When I purchased the car, it had been built as a reliable driver for the owner’s wife. It was painted gypsy red and had a 1955 6cyl/powerglide combo. It was a solid, complete and well running driver. As a member of Desert Classic Chevys (Phoenix, AZ), I used the car for local events and car shows, including the 1985 CCI Western Regional in Flagstaff, AZ. After moving to Southern California, I used the car for events and activities with my local club; Classic Chevys of Southern California. After attending the 1991 CCI Western National Convention in San Diego, CA, the decision was made to completely rebuild the car. The build would be to my personal preferences, with a goal of testing it, and my work, against the CCI 1000 point judging sheet and the high level of quality displayed at the top points level.

From the beginning, the entire restoration process was documented and cataloged. I followed Harold Louisiana’s book “How to Restore Your 57 Chevy” as a guide for the process. I kept a calendar on the wall and documented, each day, what I worked on/started/completed and how many hours I worked that day. The calendars, along with every receipt, are going to the new owner. I also have photo documentation of the entire rebuild.

The body was completely hand stripped (including trunk, firewall, floorboard, etc.) to bare metal and the original undercoating was hand removed to reveal the rust-free metal underneath. The hood, trunk, doors and various interior pieces where chemically stripped to bare metal. The frame and all chassis components (rear end, springs, A-arms, steering, etc.) were also chemically stripped.

There was no rot repair needed anywhere on the car! A few spots in the trunk, floorboard and over the headlights had minor surface rust. The passenger side rocker panel had an old accident repair, which was replaced with “best quality” reproduction sheet metal. The seams on the firewall were smoothed. When filler was needed in any area, “All-Metal” (a high-end filler that contains metal and works like lead) was used.

The insides of the doors, trunk lid, fenders, rocker panels and rear window “lower” areas, along with the floorboard and trunk floor were coated with POR-15 rust-preventative sealant and primed for paint. The underside and firewall were sprayed with self-etching primer. The underside, firewall and trunk were painted with PPG acrylic enamel.

The dash and misc. interior parts received the self-etching primer and were also painted with PPG acrylic enamel.

The outer surfaces of the body, doors, fenders, hood and trunk were sprayed with self-etching primer and followed with multiple coats of primer-surfacer. Between coats, the panels were long-block sanded to a smooth, even surface. The roof was painted in a PPG 3-stage pearl basecoat/clearcoat urethane. The body was painted in a PPG basecoat/clearcoat urethane. The clearcoat was wet sanded down to 1600 grit and buffed to the final finish.

(Note: I always thought the outside sunvisor was an awesome accessory, plus you rarely see the hardtop version. I stumbled across this NOS visor (still in the GM box) under the table of a toy vendor at the Pomona Auto Swap Meet. He didn’t know what he had, and I couldn’t pay him fast enough! Thus, I added it, plus the required dash traffic light viewer, to the build.)

The engine is a new GM ZZ3 350cid/345hp crate motor, which uses all new components, including the block, aluminum heads, long water pump and an HEI distributor. I topped the engine with a new Holley 750cfm carburetor and GM “ram horn” exhaust manifolds. The transmission is a turbo 350 from Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW) and is a heavy duty “RV” build with an 1100rpm stall converter. The dual exhaust system was built and installed by Thermal Research And Development Exhaust Systems. It is constructed of 2 1/2” aluminized metal, mandrel bent, and exits the back of the car similar to the style used on the Nomad. The power steering is a “605” unit, with the original steering column adapted to fit.

The frame and chassis components were all powdercoated gloss black. Carrera gas shocks are used, along with new lowering front coil springs. The brakes are power disc (front), using a kit from CCI with all new parts. The rear gear is a rebuilt 3:31 unit from a ’57 Chevy.

The interior is a kit designed and sewn by Ciadella Interiors, using medium grey fabrics. The seat frames were completely rebuilt and extra insulating pad was laid on the floor before the carpet was installed. The glass is a tinted, matched kit. All interior chrome trim pieces are “best quality” reproduction items. The A/C is an “Old Air” brand R-12 system designed for 55-57 Chevys. It has held its charge and blown cold since installation! It has a small Stewart-Warner temperature gauge and a USA-1 AM/FM Cassette (remember those!) in the dash. The rebuilt original electric wiper motor does work!

The entire car was rewired using the best quality original reproduction wiring kits and looks factory original.

The wheels are original 15x7 Chevy Rallyes, powdercoated medium grey. The tires are Hoosier P235/60R15.

The rocker mouldings and gravel shields are reproductions. The rest of the stainless is original. It was straightened and polished by an “old-school” SoCal craftsman to a “better than reproduction” finish. The front bumper is the original 1-piece California bumper. The rear bumper is an original wagon 3-piece bumper. The accessory bumper and grill guard are original to the car. Everything was triple-chrome plated by Lemon Grove plating in San Diego, CA. Every hinge, latch, spring and other cad piece was re-plated.

(Note: Back in the 90’s, CCI offered “good” and “best” quality reproduction parts. Every repro part purchased for this car was the “best” quality! Today (in my humble opinion), many of the reproduction parts are not available at the level of fit & finish that I used during this build.)

Everything on the car works wonderfully….though the original electric clock can be finicky….and I could never get the speedo gear indicator to line up with the turbo transmission shifter :)

As I said up top, I built this car to meet my personal preferences. I wanted a car that maintained the timeless, classic looks of the 1955 Chevy; one that would not go “out of style”. I wanted it to look like Chevrolet could have built it this way. I used genuine GM parts whenever possible. I wanted it to ride well and be tight, but to have the feel of a real 1955 Chevy (no Corvette subframes, air-ride suspensions, or computer controlled engines for me). The car was built to last forever! Extra steps were taken whenever the final results could be improved. I was aware of shortcuts that professional shops can take to reduce time and costs, in order to improve profits. But I didn’t have to make those choices. Ultimately, the finished product was better than I could’ve ever imagined!

I also mentioned that I wanted to see how my work would stand up to the 1000pt judging sheet, at a time when big money was behind the CCI show winners. At the completion of this restoration, I had performed all disassembly, preparation, paint/bodywork, restoration and assembly in my home garage. It was truly “by owner”. After winning “Best of Show” and scoring 999pts in 2002, I was ready to move on to other things and enjoy my little ’55. Now it’s time to move on again and I am confident that the car will bring joy to someone else for many years to come…….

(Note: At the time I scored 999, no car had ever scored a perfect 1000pts in CCI judging. I lost one point, when one of the judges deducted a point from every car in the class for “tail lights misaligned” and convinced a second judge to follow. The third judge did not deduct the point. Everyone in the class agreed we didn’t know what the issue was, so the “problem” could never be rectified. It wasn’t until sometime later that a car scored a perfect 1000 pointsg.)

In addition to the car, the buyer will get all records of the restoration, receipts and photos taken during the process. Also, all judging sheets, award plaques, Platinum & Gold certificates, display signs and magazines in which the car has appeared will go to the new owner.

The car can be driven anywhere without issues. I will assist the buyer with shipping the car (I highly recommend Reliable Carriers: their enclosed transportation is first class and worth the extra cost). Alternatively, I can probably deliver the car using my enclosed trailer within 1000 miles of Bend, OR, for $1/mile (one way).

Please look over the pictures and ask any questions. I know every inch of this car inside-out! Inspections welcome and recommended. Buyer pays $1000 deposit within 3 days of auction close. Balance due and payment must clear before the car will be released.

Thanks for looking!


70+ Detailed pictures are available to view on Photobucket.com using this link;

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