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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’m new to all of this and need some advise. I just bought my wife’s grandfather's 4 door, straight 6, all original 57 Chevy Bel Air, that he bought new from the dealer in 1957. He has passed away and now I have questions on weather I should restore the car to original or resto mod it and put in all new reliable (V8) engine, drive train, breaks, steering, AC etc… What does everyone think is the best route to go with a car like this, keep the original old 6 banger in it or drop a V8 in it?
If it matters, the car will never be sold again and will be passed on to my kids. The car is in great shape for as old as it is, it runs pretty good, it’s been garage kept for its entire life, but it was a daily driver for 50 years and it needs some work. First off the breaks SUCK and the steering is very loose. The paint on the passenger side doors and drivers side front quarter panel is about two shades off due to an accident grandma got into in the 60’s or 70’s.
Thanks
-Dustin
Dustinmsprague.com
 

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I’m new to all of this and need some advise. I just bought my wife’s grandfather's 4 door, straight 6, all original 57 Chevy Bel Air, that he bought new from the dealer in 1957. He has passed away and now I have questions on weather I should restore the car to original or resto mod it and put in all new reliable (V8) engine, drive train, brakes, steering, AC etc… What does everyone think is the best route to go with a car like this, keep the original old 6 banger in it or drop a V8 in it?
If it matters, the car will never be sold again and will be passed on to my kids. The car is in great shape for as old as it is, it runs pretty good, it’s been garage kept for its entire life, but it was a daily driver for 50 years and it needs some work. First off the brakes SUCK and the steering is very loose. The paint on the passenger side doors and drivers side front quarter panel is about two shades off due to an accident grandma got into in the 60’s or 70’s.
Thanks
-Dustin
Dustinmsprague.com
Can you store the original drivetrain somewhere? A V8 with an overdrive transmission would be great but not many of our cars have their original motors and trannys. The addition of disc brakes is mandatory.:anim_25:
 

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Interesting topic... You're going to find a lot of back and forth on this one.
In my opinion I would make the car closer to todays standards if you plan on driving it often. change to disk brakes, add front and rear sway-bars and installing some safety belts.

Enjoy your car and :anim_25:

Jim
 

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there only this way once is the way I feel (had a couple like that and wish I still had them). my sig says how I feel. :anim_25:
 

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Add tires to list

Interesting topic... You're going to find a lot of back and forth on this one.
In my opinion I would make the car closer to todays standards if you plan on driving it often. change to disk brakes, add front and rear sway-bars and installing some safety belts.

Enjoy your car and :anim_25:

Jim
Add modern radial tires to his list.
 

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Stay with the inline 6 and maybe add a set of dual carbs and dual exhaust. If you want to install aftermarket wheels, no harm; no foul. All these items are bolt on and can be changed back if you desire to make it stock again. The 4 doors will never carry the same value a 2 door model does. But it's still a Trifive. And in our eyes, you can't go wrong with either body style. Right?

So go out and have some fun! The car is righteous as it is!
 

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I’m new to all of this and need some advise. I just bought my wife’s grandfather's 4 door, straight 6, all original 57 Chevy Bel Air, that he bought new from the dealer in 1957. He has passed away and now I have questions on weather I should restore the car to original or resto mod it and put in all new reliable (V8) engine, drive train, breaks, steering, AC etc… What does everyone think is the best route to go with a car like this, keep the original old 6 banger in it or drop a V8 in it?
If it matters, the car will never be sold again and will be passed on to my kids. The car is in great shape for as old as it is, it runs pretty good, it’s been garage kept for its entire life, but it was a daily driver for 50 years and it needs some work. First off the breaks SUCK and the steering is very loose. The paint on the passenger side doors and drivers side front quarter panel is about two shades off due to an accident grandma got into in the 60’s or 70’s.
Thanks
-Dustin
Dustinmsprague.com
Hey Dustin...think about this, it has lasted all this time all intact and original, so wouldn't you want to pass it along the same way you got it?

Since you asked the question, I'm not going to give you the lame "it's yours to do as you like" ...you asked, so my answer would be that I definitely, wholeheartedly, agree with Henry57 "repair it and preserve it"! I would not even consider a frame off.

You can buy any beat up old Chevy and resto mod that, but, they are only original ONCE, and with the provenance this one has, well, it would be a shame to do anything else but to preserve it!!

PS...don't hate the 6! Toyota copied the this six when it made the FJ25 and FJ40, and following Land Cruisers. If I had such a car, that six would stay in!

The bottom line, just make sure you are happy with what you do. All this is, just my 0.02 :anim_25:
 

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restore

Dustin, I,ve had many stock 5-6-7,s My take is if you like the 6 keep it, However I would do like many have suggested, disc brakes ,sway bars, you can rebuild the front end, just keep all your components so if you want to revert to total stock later it easy, Goood luck ,,Dick:sign0016::sign0020:
 

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I like to ask the question, "where do you see yourself with the car?" What do you enjoy? Showing it? Cruising? This is a personal decision on which way to go. You will get all kinds of responses. But, it comes back to, what do you like?

For me and our car, I just could not see myself driving a stock or original car. It would be like driving my parent's car. I have to do my own thing. Ours is slightly modified. Slightly lowered a crate motor, A/C, wheels/tires and non-original color. I appreciate an original car but, it's just not me.

That's the question you have to ask yourself. It all comes down to personal preference. Either way, they're a blast to own and cruise.

Enjoy!
 

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This is a common question here.

Let me answer your question with a question: do you view the car as a possession for your enjoyment in whatever way you choose, or do you see it as a piece of history, where you're charged with its stewardship until it's time to pass it on to your heirs?

If it's currently all original, always been in the family, and you're adamant about passing it on to your children, I think you know the answer to that question.

If you keep it original, you will have to adjust your driving style to fit a car designed nearly 60 years ago. If you have this car for awhile and decide you want a restomod car, it might make more sense to buy one that's already done (if you can afford 2 tri-fives).

One point I've not heard mentioned - if you're going to put radials on it, do NOT put them on the original rims. Buy later rims that are designed for radials, and store the original rims and wheel covers. The original rims are too narrow and not designed for the lateral forces you can generate with radials. This can lead to cracked rims and possibly a serious accident.

(Or, simply adapt your driving style to bias ply tires.)

BTW - contrary to popular belief, original tri-fives do NOT have loose steering if the worn front end parts are replaced and the steering gear is properly adjusted. As far as sucky brakes - the car will never stop like a late model car with its original equipment brakes, but it should have a high, firm pedal, and stop smoothly without pulling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you Stoveboltgeek, for the advice and for the safety info on the tires. I'm stationed over seas away from the car for the next year and a half so I've got a while to figure out what I want to do with it. As soon as I get Stationed back in the US, I'll look into replacing the steering parts. As far as the breaks go, it does pull a lot when you break and mixed with the loose steering its a bit dangerous.
I've always wanted a good project car but I've been stationed over seas with the Air Force for the last 10 years. Thank you all for the advice!!!!
 

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I’m new to all of this and need some advise. I just bought my wife’s grandfather's 4 door, straight 6, all original 57 Chevy Bel Air, that he bought new from the dealer in 1957. He has passed away and now I have questions on weather I should restore the car to original or resto mod it and put in all new reliable (V8) engine, drive train, breaks, steering, AC etc… What does everyone think is the best route to go with a car like this, keep the original old 6 banger in it or drop a V8 in it?
If it matters, the car will never be sold again and will be passed on to my kids. The car is in great shape for as old as it is, it runs pretty good, it’s been garage kept for its entire life, but it was a daily driver for 50 years and it needs some work. First off the breaks SUCK and the steering is very loose. The paint on the passenger side doors and drivers side front quarter panel is about two shades off due to an accident grandma got into in the 60’s or 70’s.
Thanks
-Dustin
Dustinmsprague.com
Go original, like one of the others said "its only original once". I would have loved to have gotten the original motor with my car. Especially with it never going to sale again the idea that it would be my great grand father original car, imagine sitting in that thing and thinking that this is exactly what he felt when he went to work everyday. It would be a link to their heritage that I will never be able to have. I am talking about your kids of course. And imagine even further down the road how cool that would be for your great grand children to have that kind of a link to the past. Thats just what I would think, but honestly it is your car and as long as you hold onto the original motor and tranny and do not go overboard with modifications you can always put it back to original. Just keep that in mind and dont let anyone convince you to do something to it you dont wanna :) best of luck!
 

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Keeping all the old parts is a nice balance of "it's only original once" and "do whatever you want to it", assuming you have the space.

If you can get the brakes serviced, you might find they're pretty decent. Mine were crappy when I bought it but they just needed adjusting (original drums don't do that on their own, in case you weren't aware). If you're handy at all, a complete brake redo isn't all that difficult.

Sounds like you got a pretty good original car there. If you can tweak it and you like it, no need to go dumping a ton of money into it.
 

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Keeping all the old parts is a nice balance of "it's only original once" and "do whatever you want to it", assuming you have the space.

If you can get the brakes serviced, you might find they're pretty decent. Mine were crappy when I bought it but they just needed adjusting (original drums don't do that on their own, in case you weren't aware). If you're handy at all, a complete brake redo isn't all that difficult.

Sounds like you got a pretty good original car there. If you can tweak it and you like it, no need to go dumping a ton of money into it.
My brakes were 100% shot. I paid $250 and bought new pads, hoses, seals, and brake cylinders as well as a dual core master cylinder for a '67 Camaro. I piped in the new line for the new cylinder and now they preform admirably. Very minimal modification and now I have reliable and sturdy brakes.
 
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