View Full Version : Where do I start? 57 Bel Air 4 door.
07-12-2006, 01:10 PM
:eek: This is my first attempt at a restoration. My automotive experience has always been keeping it running and repairs.
I have some ideas on a procedure that may work for me.
I would like to ask if there is a suggested step by step procedure to get going on this project?
The car is in fair shape, possibly driveable within a couple hunderd bucks.
(If I'm not too picky)
I would guess there are two basic ways to go about this.
1- complete ground up restore, hire out jobs I haven't done or do not feel comfortable with, (upholstery, painting etc..). I believe this would take a pretty good chunk of money up front to start.
This really isn't an option for me right now.
2- Fix as you go.
Get her running good,
moving > < stopping safely (hopefully around the same time)
I believe some of you have maybe tried both ways and I would like to know your thoughts. Should I wait until I have the means to go hog wild or is it feasible to just plug away?
Thanks for your time, Roy.
07-12-2006, 02:01 PM
The first thing I did with mine was get rid of the original tires and put on something more modern. And have the front end aligned. This was because I was driving it 300 miles to home.
The next thing was to have the engine compartment and undercarriage steam cleaned. Much nicer to work on after that.
Then I would replace all the brake shoes, re-build or replace wheel cylinders, turn the drums and adjust the brakes. Re-pack (or replace and pack) the front wheel bearings, inner and outer.
Replace all the shock absorbers.
Change all the oil, filter and transmission, rear-end lubes.
Grease all the lube points.
Adjust the clutch if so equipped.
Flush the radiator, heater core and block and refill with 50/50 antifreeze and water.
Change the belts and hoses and wiper blades if necessary.
Replace the plugs, wires, distributor rotor, condensor and points.
Detail the interior and exterior.
Get it insured based on an appraised value.
If you don't have a lot of rust through, you should be able to drive it OK.
Make a list of the things you want to do to the car and then you can do them as you can afford it.
Good luck. Once you get started you may never finish.
07-12-2006, 06:44 PM
I am a beginner at this myself but perhaps I can offer a few comments based on what i have learned during the build of my 57. Let me take a moment and give credit to many members in this forum that continue to help me during this project.
Park the car and make a list of what you want to do with the car if there were no money issues. Run the numbers. Do the research for suppliers and develop a Worksheet that runs totals. This is the shot of reality that will help keep things in the correct perspective. It will also help you identify priorities.
What do you want from the car? Is it an investment? If so, that could translate into $$,$$$.$$ dollars. How much do you want to invest in a 4door? If you can get a handle on the value of the car, you can model your work to stay as close to $$$ recovery as possible. Assuming of course you eventually sell the car.
In conclusion, there is something to be said about going in the project direction and not driving the car. I have found it more rewarding. It has provided me the time to do things the correct way. The result is it has held down costs. The time is there to learn how to do something myself and then get it done. I guess you can do the same while driving so my comments can be challanged without much argument from me.
Got to go...room service is here!
07-12-2006, 07:32 PM
My plan sounds identical to yours, Roy. I got my 57 4dr hardtop and decided to (1) make it run, (2) get it street legal (mirrors, etc), (3) add door locks (my 57 has no locks!), (4) fix up the interior so it's "nice", (5) drive it on weekends!
I jumped right into it -- got the engine running by replacing all the fluids and doing a "lite" tune-up. Did a bit of brake work (full brake job still on the to-do list), replaced the leaf springs. Then it sat for a while as I attended to family matters and the gremlins struck -- now it needs transmission "attention" and the engine doesn't run as good as it did!
So, after a year it still sits in the garage.
I would recommend a list....make it detailed so you can avoid jumping around...and try to stick with it. My suggestion is to make the list like I did but detail it and stick to it.
(1) Engine/Drivetrain --- detail your tune-up, fluid changes, belts, hoses, etc.
(2) Suspension -- do you need springs/shocks, etc.? Do a brake job and replace your tires.
(3) Exterior -- side view mirrors, locks, etc. Remember your lights, front and rear, brake lights, etc. Might be a good time to check the electrical system, too.
(4) Interior -- seats, door panels, carpet, etc. Can also work on dash items like the radio, glovebox, etc.
With a plan like this you can get it driveable even though it might not look so good!
07-12-2006, 10:25 PM
If you do what my two sons and I did was pull a 55 sedan all apart, paint it, new to us, motor, tranny ,and rearend, The day we got it running we left for the 2000 Hot Rod Tour and put on close to 3k miles on it in two weeks. I can't say I'd do that again but we did have a ball!
07-12-2006, 10:58 PM
Bruce isn`t that also the car that you drove and then tore down again?
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