You might think that just because we look at the world’s most beautiful cars all day every day that we’d be hard to impress here at RK Motors Charlotte. Fortunately, that’s not true, and this lovely 1956 Chevy Bel Air is proof. I looked at the quality of the workmanship, the level of detail, and the parts that went into its construction, then at the price, and I was flabbergasted. We’ve had cars this nice before, of course, and they’ve all sold quickly for much bigger numbers than the one attached to this one. I’m urging you to take a good, close look at the photos and note the details below, because this car will probably not last more than three or four days on the showroom floor. Not a car this nice, and definitely not at that price.
The 56 Chevys were handsome cars, and the variation of the original Dusk Rose and India Ivory colors on this one is gorgeous. Thanks to straight bodywork, good gaps, and proper panel alignment, the wonderful paint scheme of this 56 works extremely well. Restored cars are almost always nicer than stock, and this one is no exception they weren’t building Chevys this nice in 1956. Look how the trunk fits, how straight and even the trim above the front grille is, and the unbroken reflections in the side panels. The paint is two-stage DuPont urethane, and while the Dusk Rose may have a little more pearl and metallic in it than original, you can’t argue that it isn’t beautifully done.
All of the glass is new, and it includes all new rubber gaskets, window tracks, channels, and felt whiskers so that all the windows open and close effortlessly. All of the chrome and stainless throughout the car has been either restored or replaced, and anyone who has restored a car from the 50s knows that you’ll spend a year’s worth of house payments on the brightwork restoration alone. The stainless Bel Air trim that defines the sides of the car is bright and clear, with no scratches or dings. Tail lights and parking lamps feature fresh lenses and the multi-colored Chevrolet emblems fore and aft are crisp and bright. As I said, the detailing on this car is extremely well done.
This car was originally equipped with a 265 cubic inch V8 (which has been fully rebuilt and is included with the car more on that in a moment), and now sports a 350 cubic inch GM Performance Parts crate engine. With 290 horsepower and 326 pounds of torque, it’s the perfect complement to the easygoing nature of the Bel Air, and it runs happily on 87 octane fuel, making it economical as well. Up top there’s an Edelbrock 600 CFM 4-barrel on top of a polished Weiand Street Warrior intake, and a matching set of finned valve covers and an aluminum air cleaner give it a vintage performance look. Cast iron cylinder heads feature 1.94-inch intake and 1.50-inch exhaust valves, and help deliver good torque and useful mid-range power that make this car a wonderful highway cruiser. A Mallory Unilite distributor lights the fires, and a set of rams horn exhaust manifolds give it a period-correct look under the hood. Other useful upgrades include a big CoolCraft aluminum radiator and a 160 degree thermostat, a dual master cylinder, and an alternator delivering the amps. This one most definitely runs as good as it looks.
As I said, this Bel Air also includes the original 265 cubic inch V8, which has been fully rebuilt and restored to new condition. In fact, it’s ready to drop in if you’d prefer a more stock approach. It has been balanced, and hardened valve seats were installed to make it compatible with modern unleaded fuels. The flexplate was replaced, and it comes complete with a rebuilt carburetor, fuel pump, water pump, distributor, and new motor mounts, and it has been dressed in a proper coat of Chevy Orange paint with painted lettering on the valve covers. This authentically rebuilt engine alone is probably worth 20 or 25% of the cars asking price, and it’s included with the sale.
The original PowerGlide 2-speed automatic was replaced with an expensive TCI TH350 that also includes a new torque converter, correct speedometer gear, and a Lokar shift linkage that connects it to the original column-mounted shifter. In back, the original rear end is full of 3.70 gears, which give the old girl plenty of punch around town. The exhaust system consists of 2-inch pipes with a crossover feeding a pair of original style mufflers, so it’s mellow and quiet instead of obnoxious and rude. Up front, the stock drum brakes were replaced with a set of ECIs zero-offset disc brakes with 11-inch rotors and single-piston calipers from a late-model Camaro, and they tuck into the stock wheels without modification. The rest of the braking system is stock, but completely rebuilt with new lines, hoses, wheel cylinders and a residual valve. Springs, ball joints, tie rods, and shocks are all relatively new, making this 56 feel like new on the road. New 15x5 chrome wheels wear color-matched 1956 Chevrolet bowtie hubcaps and a set of fresh 205/75/15 Diamondback wide whitewall radials.
The interior has been completely restored to stock specifications using original-appearing ivory vinyl and charcoal gray pattern cloth. There’s new foam under the seat covers, and the door panels, carpets, and headliner are all correct and fresh. All the wiring has been replaced, and the fuse block has been upgraded to a Power Plus ATO panel for safety and future expansion. The gauges are new, the clock has been upgraded with a quartz movement, and a trio of auxiliary gauges hangs beneath the dash keeping an eye on the fresh crate motor. There’s also a brand new SunPro tachometer on the steering column that looks like a period-correct accessory very cool. Finally, the original AM radio has been upgraded with an AM/FM stereo setup from Vintage Auto Radio that includes an iPod interface cable. New Kenwood speakers were used in the stock locations, and an additional pair of 6x9s was installed in the rear package shelf using traditional style grilles. The simple and properly restored trunk offers a new mat and a matching full-sized chrome wheel and whitewall radial tire, along with a complete jack assembly.
This car includes a lot of detailed information, both on the build and on the car itself. The owner is providing detailed specifications on all the new components, as well as for the original car and engine. There’s also an original owner’s manual, receipts, and this car made the cover of the October 2010 Old Cars Price Guide. Finally, there’s a photo album of the restoration, including images of the original 265 cubic inch V8, which is included with the sale.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you;that''s the correct asking price, and yes, I agree, this is one heck of a lot of car for the money. There’s easily twice the asking price tied up in the build of this car, and another $3000 just in the rebuild of the original V8 engine. Nobody cut any corners, and it really is as nice as it appears in the photos. Everything works as it should, the car is tight, and motors down the highway just as you’d expect. This is a charming old car that still rides and drives like a vintage piece, but with a few smart modifications, it’s also safe, efficient, and reliable. If that sounds like a winning combination to you (and why wouldn’t it?), then you need to give us a call right now this one definitely won’t be here for long.