California “Born & Raised” Restored ’55 Chevy Bel Air – Black Plate Car with Interesting California History
Very Tastefully Done with Totally Stock Appearance & Significant Performance, Safety, and Comfort Improvements
Finished in Factory Original Gypsy Red & Shoreline Beige (GM Code 615) & Color Coordinated Stock Appearance Interior (GM Code 521)
THIS PARTICULAR 1955 CHEVROLET BEL AIR COUPE
This ’55 Bel Air was produced in Oakland, Ca, just 30 miles from out location and has reportedly spent its entire life in Northern California. The cars history dates back to the third owner who acquired the Chevy in the late 1970”s, or early 1980’s. At the time, the car had the current black license plates that it still wears today, dating its registration to the early 1960’s. The title reflects “year First Sold” as 1955, further evidence that the car was originally titled and licensed in California.
When the car was purchased by the 4th owner, the car had been stored inside at a Hayward, CA aircraft hanger for decades. It was in good, rust free condition but had been stripped of the entire exterior stainless and chrome, the interior removed, and painted in a non-stock white over red color scheme. Many of the parts had been removed and were stored in boxes, and throughout the hanger.
The new owners dismantled the entire car, removing the hood, doors, bumpers and trunk lid. The Chevy then underwent a complete, trim removed respray with virtually all new soft and hard trim being replaced or refurbished. The original chassis and underside was in excellent condition, free from any indications of rust through or rot and would eventually receive significantly improved mechanical and drive-line components.
Once the car was painted, the mechanical components were assessed and the supposedly original, numbers matching engine was determined to be incorrect. A crate GM ZZR small block was purchased and mated to a GM 700R4 4-speed automatic. The owner reports the horsepower at 395 hp~ due to the mechanical upgrades, headers and other improvements on the 350 cid engine. A new, later model Chevy rear end was sourced that, reportedly, has 3:53 /1 gears.
The Chevy’s interior was completely gutted and re-done with a factory style, Ciadella interior that has a very stock appearance. The cloth fabric and colors closely match the scheme that this car left the factory with in 1955. The cars interior and exterior are as produced and as shown on the firewall trim tag (refer to photos). The dash is original and uncut and still retains many of the original knobs, one of which is the “fader” which was a factory option to “fade” the radio from front to back to a single rear speaker that is located on the rear package shelf. The knob is no longer functional but it is a great look!
The radio appears stock but is an upgraded AM/FM unit that works well. The clock is also original and functional. It is unclear where the chrome glove box door came from but some have said it may have been a dealer option/extra. The three gauges mounted below the glove box were initially installed during the build to track oil pressure and engine temperature but the owner loved the appearance and left them in place. The steering wheel was reduced in size from the stock 19” to 15 ½” resulting in more space for the driver. The dome lights, two in the rear, also work as does the original sounding horn.
When the car was being restored, the fuel system was completely gone through including removal of the fuel tank and cleaning, and new lines from front to rear. The rear leaf springs were replaced and coil springs added to the front adjusting the front ride height to 19.5”, just ½” lowered that the stock 20” ride height, resulting in a perfect stance.
The 700R4 transmission resulted in the elimination of the original Powerglide support “wings” in favor of a beefy support for the new and more usable 4-speed transmission. The exhaust was designed for the ZZ4 engine with appropriate headers to match. Dual Flowmasters result in a pleasing but not obnoxious exhaust note. Mechanical upgrades were completed to the engine in addition to dress-up items in the engine compartment and replaced inner fenders.
Drum brakes were updated in the rear and all brakes lines were replaced. Front were replaced with disc brakes and new tie-rods. Sway bars were added both front & rear to improve handling and stability.
The wheel covers are original with hand-painted “Bow-ties” in black. Wide whitewalls provide a vintage appearance but are radials, not bias-ply tires. A spare is sized for the car and mounted in the fully detailed trunk area.
We feel that it is important to decode the significant production numbers, particularly on a restored / collectible car like this Chevrolet.
The trim tag and VIN # on the Chevrolet decodes as follows (Note: We have provided photos of the trim tag and the VIN tags on our listing but it was difficult to get a clear photograph):
VIN #: V / C / 56 / L / 044660 (VC550077380) – Located on driver’s side door jamb and intact / unaltered
Number / letter in VIN Significance
V V8 Engine
C Bel Air
55 Year (1955)
O Assembly Plant (O = Oakland)
77380 Production Sequence #
TRIM TAG (Located on right hand cowl panel)
Style 55-10370 1955 (55) / Bel Air Coupe (1037)
Body No 0 8666
Trim No 521 (Beige / Red)
Paint No 615 (Shoreline Beige / Gypsy Red)
ENGINE & DRIVE-LINE – HIGHLIGHTS
This car has had the benefit of and upgraded engine and transmission and appears to have the factory original rear end. Highlights include:
– The car passed the California required safety inspection and has completely functional lighting systems.
– Crate ZZ4
– GM 700R 4-Speed transmission
– Proper column shift
– Headers & dual exhaust
– Front disc brakes
– Front & rear sway bars
– Copies of regular service receipts / invoices (oil services, regular maintenance) – All professionally done.
Within the past few thousand miles the car was taken in to a professional classic car repair specialist for total sorting and to ensure that everything was functional and up to date. The repairs included the following:
– Address transmission leaks and adjust 700R for proper shifting
– Adjust shift down linkage and kick-down cable
– Wire cigarette lighter to be used for accessories
– Ensure all windows are fully operational by adjusting and replacing window regulators / assemblies
– Add firewall pad
– Repair and adjust parking brake
– Replace rear brake shoes, check fronts – OK
– Replace both rear axle seals & bearings
– Adjust anti-sway bar brackets from hitting exhaust
– Test heater and fan – operational
– Adjust interior panels including arms rests, driver’s side kick panel, and other trim
– Ensure door locks work, lubricate
– Check wiper operation, add stainless arms
– Adjust headlights
– Drain and refresh coolant
– Adjust exhaust system to eliminate any rattles or clearance issues
– Complete oil service
– R& R axle oil with 140 hypoid gear oil
– New whitewall tires
Other minor service as needed performed regularly.
EXTERIOR PAINT / BODY / TOP SUMMARY
– Complete exterior cosmetic restoration completed on an original Oakland, Ca manufactured ‘55
– All trim removed, replated or replaced with NOS components, replated or originals
– Nice attention to detail
– Clean “California quality” chassis and other suspension components with no damage or signs of previous or current accident damage
– No undercarriage frame rust through or rot
– Doors close solidly and fit very well
– Driver’s side mirror
– Beautiful high quality re-chromed bumpers
– Full Chevy wheel covers with hand painted “Bow-ties”
– Excellent glass & trim
– All windows roll up and down freely with excellent chrome trim
– Functional locks including trunk
– Beautiful Bel Air upholstery in red & ivory
– Factory correct uncut dashboard
– No alterations or changes from stock configuration (With the exception of an aftermarket radio & under dash gauge cluster (easily removable)
– Excellent period style quality carpet
– Beautiful dash with no damage
– All glass is excellent
ADDITIONAL FEATURES OF THIS PARTICULAR 1955 CHEVROLET
– Front & rear black/yellow license plates
– California car with long term Northern California ownership
– Power Steering
– Power brakes
– Correct original factory gauge
– Factory style AM/FM radio but upgraded and fully functional
– Highly detailed engine bay
– Trunk detailed & rust free
We regularly see Chevrolet’s that have been inappropriately or heavily modified, abused and mistreated over the years but this car has been adult owned and cared for by its recent owners. Not only is it excellent cosmetically, but it represents a car that can be used and enjoyed for any number of reasons ranging from cruising to being entered in a wide range of car shows. One thing is for certain, the car will be accepted in virtually any venue.
CONDITION SUMMARY – 1955 CHEVROLET BEL AIR
This 1955 Bel Air has been restored with the goal of creating a stock appearing car that looks great but offers the reliability and drivability of a more modern car. The objective was achieved and the result is a beautiful example of a Life-long, local California car that offers a beautiful appearance and great performance, safety, and improved handling. The combination of a totally restored exterior and interior along with a great choice of upgrades and mechanical components sets this ’55 apart from many poorly “home builts,” under performing stock Chevy’s, or overly modified Resto-Mods.
When the car was restored it received a complete re-spray in the proper factory produced color scheme that, in our opinion, is one of the best colors on a Tri-Five Chevy. The car shows very well and has held up very well since the restoration was completed. The paint is high gloss, applied uniformly, and shows no signs of partial panel touch-up since the complete re-paint. The Chevy has been used on a regular, but limited basis and always garaged when not in use. The paint shows well and any imperfections are such that they do not show in the photos, or detract from the overall appearance and beauty of the car.
The body is extremely straight and reflects the hours of preparation to get the desired result of a quality restoration effort. The car was totally disassembled in preparation for the paint work so there are no signs of over-spray on any of the trim, or other parts of the car. The dash and interior panels also received Of course, the Chevy received all new “soft” trim including rubber, door felts, and other body “gaskets.” The underside of the car shows its life in California with a straight chassis, and no rust through. The mechanical upgrades including the improved ZZ4 engine, 700R transmission and proper support, disc brakes, headers, dual exhaust and other improvements become apparent upon inspection of the underside.
Rubber trim, interior pieces and other “soft items” were sourced from quality manufactures. It is very important to note that, unlike many “restorations” this Chevrolet was done professionally and it shows. True Chevrolet enthusiasts / aficionados will appreciate the difference and the value of a correct and proper restoration, especially on a rare original like this California Chevrolet Bel Air. With minor exceptions including a reduced size, stock appearance steering wheel, upgraded AM/FM radio that looks stock, and gauges mounted below the dash, the interior looks all original.
Mechanically, the car is very strong and drives exceptionally well. The undercarriage is dry with only minor, characteristic leaks but no significant leaking from the engine, rear end or transmission. The higher performance from the ZZ4 V8 does not disappoint delivering the kind of performance and torque that is appreciated from a proper high performance conversion with an estimated 365 hp. The 700R 4-speed transmission is a great addition making the car a pleasure to drive in addition to improving mileage and making the Chevy more highway friendly at higher speeds. The Chevy cruises easily at well in excess of highways speeds and the addition of power steering, power disc brakes and seat belts front and rear increase safety and drivability.
All areas of the car (engine bay, trunk and interior) have been kept detailed and in clean condition at all times. The Chevrolet has not been stored for extended periods of time and used and maintained regularly by professional mechanics.
This 1955 Chevy Bel Air epitomizes the type of collector car that we receive from our local customers who have owned their cars for years and are active in the Hot Rod / Street Rod community in our small town. However, this car enjoys a unique long-time California history and ownership.
MORE ABOUT CLASSIC CARS LTD.
We consider ourselves very fortunate. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States with weather that allows us to enjoy our collector cars and other outdoor activities virtually year round. From a business perspective, we recently celebrated our 25th anniversary at Classic Cars Ltd. and have had the pleasure of meeting and dealing with collector car enthusiasts from all over the world. Our location in the “Tri-Valley” (a growing Wine Region with over 50 wineries) and active California collector car scene provides us with ongoing access to high quality rust free “Cars of interest” of all shapes and sizes. Frankly, we continue to be amazed at the lack of rust on cars that are 50+ years old. After all, we grew up in Chicago where the cars were showing rust after just a few years.
Finally, we must admit, our collector car business has remained rather “Old School.” We actually know our customers personally and do no advertising as a result of referrals from previous and local customers, friends and business associates. Also, we see every car that we represent and take it into our indoor storage. No long distance representation of unknown cars (and their owner’s), brokering or long distance “Deal making.” In the large majority of the cases the cars that we present have long-term ownership, history and documentation. We are selective as to the cars that we choose and our local and national feedback reflects our commitment to accurate, honest and complete vehicle descriptions.
LICENSE / REGISTRATION / INSPECTION
– Currently licensed & registered in California (Clear title)
– Passed recent California safety inspection (proper lights, turn signals, etc.)
– No smog required in California (vehicles 1975 and older are exempt)
HISTORY – CHEVROLET BEL AIR COUPE
In 1955, Chevrolet’s full-size model received all new styling and power. It was called the “Hot One” in GM’s advertising campaign. Chevrolet’s styling was crisp, clean and incorporated a Ferrari-inspired grille. Bel Air’s came with features found on cars in the lower models ranges plus interior carpet, chrome headliner bands on hardtops, chrome spears on front fenders, stainless steel window moldings, and full wheel covers. Models were further distinguished by the Bel Air name script in gold lettering later in the year.
For 1955 Chevrolet’s gained a V8 engine option. The new 265 cu in (4,340 cc) V8 featured a modern, overhead valve high compression, long stroke design that was so good that it remained in production in various forms, for many decades. The base V8 had a two-barrel carburetor and was rated at 162 hp (121 kW), and the “Power Pack” option featured a four-barrel carburetor and other upgrades yielding 180 bhp (130 kW).
Motor Trend magazine gave the Bel Air top marks for handling. Popular Mechanics reported acceleration for a V8 Bel Air with Powerglide as being 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, plus a comfortable ride, and good visibility. On the other hand, the horn ring blocked some of the speedometer; regular gasoline made the engine knock, and the first V8 engine off the line burned too much oil. Front legroom was 43.1″. Brakes were 11″ drums. A new option for V8-equipped 1955 models was air conditioning, with outlets on each side of the dashboard; a heavy-duty generator was included on cars equipped with this option.
The 1955 Bel Air received a face-lift with a more conventional full-width grille, pleasing those customers who didn’t favor the Ferrari-inspired ’55 front end. Distinctive two-tone body side treatments and graceful front and rear wheel openings completed the “speed-line” restyling. Single housings incorporated the taillight, stoplight, and backup light, and the left one held the gas filler – an idea popularized on Cadillac’s. Among the seven Bel Air models was a new Sport Sedan, a pillar less four-door hardtop that looked handsome with all the windows rolled down and allowed easy entry into the back seat.
The least costly Bel Air, the two-door sedan, carried a factory price tag of $2,025.00. Seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and a padded dashboard were available. Popular Mechanics reported that only 7.4% of owners in their survey ordered seat belts.
Classic Cars Ltd.