I was 19 and the year was 2000. I traded a 1985 Buick Century, a hacked Direct TV satellite system and $500 to my dad for my 1955 Chevy Belair 4 door. It had the original 265/power glide setup when I got it. Being my daily driver for a few years, I learned how to turn wrenches, improvise where necessary and that they don't make them like they used to for a pretty good reason.
I bought my first tri five in 1978. I gave 650.00 for it. It is the same 57 2 dr sedan i have now. We pulled it to a gas station with a chain and he got it running. I drove it home with the 283 and 3 speed trans. that was in it. Started the work on it right away.
First one was around '88 I stumbled on a 57 2dr HT, fresh 350 & 4sp, original paint etc. Car had a really bad vibration when letting the clutch out bought it for 1200.00. Turns out 4 of the bell housing to block bolts had fallen out the bell housing was almost off of the dowels in the block. Jacked the motor up, 4 new bolts & drove it for 3 months intending to keep it around as a toy. That piece had the sweetest sounding exhaust ever. A guy I knew from the old neighborhood just had to have it sold it to him for 4500.00. He redid the entire car & had it painted red then traded it on a 409 425 horse early 60's Impala.
I bought my first one in 1963 at the age of 15... I paid around $300 for it, as I remember....I had been working in the tobacco fields and dairy farms in MA, since I was thirteen to earn/save the money for it....My dad picked it out for me....It was a 57, four door sedan with a six cylinder and three speed stick.
$5K '57 4dr ht - not knowing that it had the very rare and expensive 997 heads with only 15K original miles - used by a church going lady that got rid of it because someone hit her and won a Honda in a raffle. It's also a dual fours, but someone put a 4 barrel rochester because it was the thing to do, to get rid the dual fours and batwing air cleaner.
My 55 was given to me by my great aunt in 1972. Back then, the Secretary of State would make you pay taxes on a gift such as this based on the blue book value. She told me to say I paid one dollar for the car. So, I ended up paying four cents for my 55. Still have it , also.
1955 Chevy 4-door, 265/Glide. The first car I ever purchased, I was 18. Paid $125 for it and we drove it most of the summer and fall then cut it loose. Next one was a few years later, 1955 Chevy 2-door, 350/Muncie - $350. Last one is another 1955 2-door, traded a 1949 Ford Tudor for it plus $115. Still got it.
My first was a '57 2 door hardtop, bought for $175 in 1972. 4 barrel Power Pack with a PowerGlide.
It didn't run, so I used a tow bar hooked up to a Greenbrier van to get it home.
First I installed a 265 bored out to standard 283 with 11.5 to 1 popup pistons and a 30/30 cam and solid lifters, with stock power pack heads, and a Borg Warner T-10 4 speed.
Since I didn't keep the main caps and rod caps in order, so it developed a rod knock.
I had the radiator checked at a shop, but they only checked for leaks -- not for flow.
We took it 900 miles into Mexico from Oakland, CA for a vacation, sometimes running over 90 mph.
On the way back into the U.S., we heard a scraping coming from the right front wheel.
After getting through the border, I pulled off to the side and took the wheel and drum off to take a look.
The ball bearings fell out into the sand -- the bearing cage was toast.
After using spare grease from the dust cap to hold them into place, we limped it 20+ miles into the first town and parked in a car parts parking lot until they opened.
With a hammer and screwdriver, I pounded out the ball bearing race and installed the new Timken roller bearing.
A few miles later in LA at my brother's house, the right rear wheel bearing was leaking badly. Off to the machine shop to press on a new bearing.
On the grapevine (long uphill grade on I-5 North of LA), the heater was on to cool the engine (since the radiator wouldn't), but only cold air came out of the heater.
At the top, we stopped, and the engine seized. After some hours to let it cool, it started again, and we drove it home, running badly and using way more gas than it should.
At home, I pulled the heads and saw the head gasket was melted between two cylinders on the passenger side.
Later on, I made another mistake by installing a 427 from a corvette that a friend had.
For some reason, I used a 3 speed from my cousin's '56 for a few weeks, until the 427 ground it up. And I spun two sets of spider gears in the rear end.
Sold it after I got married for $600. A few weeks later, the buyer came by to yell at me because the rear shackle tore the frame where the shackle was mounted.
The things we do when we're young and stupid...
I probably bought, fixed and sold six '57s and a dozen other cars in those years.
We used to read the want ads and go look at cars on weekends and offer 10% of the asking price.
More than a few called us back after no one else wanted to buy their car.
One '57 we bought for $15 that wouldn't run. After signing the paperwork, we cleaned the battery terminals, jump started the car and drove it away.
The seller was very angry when she saw that. It had an few inches of bondo in multiple locations, IIRC.
We cut out the roof with a torch and drove it around as a convertible for a while before stripping it of useful parts.
I must now apologize for doing so much damage to that car....
Bought my 57 210 two door sedan in spring of '75 for $500. Was originally 6 cylinder with 3OTT but when I bought it had 283, single 4BBL carb, 4 spd and headers with 3:55 peg leg.. Now has same rebuilt 283, cammed and bored, 57 GM 2x4s intake, Carter WCFB carbs, same rebuilt Muncie M-21, same Appliance headers with a 3:55 posi rear end. Pics of before body and paint, after body and paint and rear seat upholstery. Nearing interior completion but not there yet.
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