1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan

Owner: Larry & Julie Vannoy, Shoreline, WA 

 

We (my wife Julie and I) bought the car just over a year ago. I had been wanting to start a project car of my own as I had been helping a friend on a 54 Metropolitan and thought I should be doing this for myself if I was going to be doing it. As it happened my friend with the Met ran across this car and told me about it. A couple was splitting up and needed to divide assets and the 55 was one of them.
 
From what I could tell they had not done much to it since they purchased it.  The seal around the heater motor and the seal at the back of the hood were both missing so as it sat out in the rain, water found it's way through the heater opening and right into the floor board. Rather than fix it they just ripped the carpet up and stuck rags up under the firewall pad to keep the flood out.

Having purchased it in mid summer I really wanted to drive it a little before I started working on it. After all who wants their car down in the few months of good weather we have. So I began to clean it up and do a few things to stop the water leak and the bare necessities to get it going. For the most part the car is original. There are a few things that got changed down through the years obviously but nothing so major that kept me from thinking I could get it back to it's original state (or close to it). It came with Power Brakes but someone in their infinite wisdom took that off and jury rigged a master cylinder onto it. I still have hopes of getting that returned to original but have had difficulty finding parts. So if anyone has any parts or ideas let me know. All that was left of that system is the brake pedal and the vacuum canister in the fender well. So it has a ways to go.
 

For the rest of the summer I drove it some while I cleaned and observed and noted what I thought should be done. If I had been thinking I would have taken some pictures of the condition it was in as I started tearing things apart as winter approached, it would prove to be a shortcoming on my part as well as a lost history of what it had been. I knew it was time to see how bad the floors were going to be. I thought when I got the underlayment out of the floorboard that it would be really rusted but the drivers side wound up being worse than the passenger side. I thought I could just get by with taking the carpet out but the more I worked the more I found and soon all that was left in the inside was an empty dash. The question was would I ever get it back together. My wife kept telling me that I should put something back together since it was really getting to a be a daunting task with parts everywhere and I had never had a car down this far. But being the male that I am I did not listen. Ha!
 

Fortunately none of the floor panels were very bad so with a lot of sanding, rust inhibitor and primer I think and hope that I have stopped the rust (for now at least).

The headliner was way past gone and when I finally got around to tearing it out the roof has covered in rust also. More sanding and primer took care of that. So now it was time to put something back together. I had absolutely no experience with installing a headliner and by the time I got back around to installing it I had forgotten what it looked like when it was finished (remember the pictures I should have taken). But thanks to Gina who responded to my call and let me look at her four door I was able to get it back together. For the first time I think we did pretty good, but we learned some hard lessons. I think the windlace was the hardest, especially after I finally figured out what they sent me was sewed up wrong.
 

So from there we put in the firewall pad, carpet steering column, and all the wiring and instrumentation under the dash. What a difference it made.

When we got the car it still had the thick plastic over the rear seat. The top of the back had long since been rotted out by the sun but the seat part was almost like new when we took the plastic off, amazing. The only thing bad with the back was the top part so being tight on money and wanting not to waste what was good we ripped the stitching out and bought some vinyl material, sewed it back in and painted it with the original coral spray paint. For now it looks pretty good (until we can do better). The front seat was a total mess so new foam and seat cover was a must.

That is pretty much where we are at on it. It still has a long ways to go. The front end needs a total rebuild (next winters project) and the engine and engine compartment will come in time. The paint is well fair. The coral part has not been painted from what I can tell. The gray has been painted and there is a funny story that goes with it but I have gone on too long already I am sure.

Larry.