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On the visible part of the wheel well in the trunk area, some wheel wells are smooth and some have an embossed ridge. From my observations, the 150's wheel wells were smooth and the Bel Airs and 210's were ridged.

Is my observation correct? Or is it some body style that makes the difference? What is the purpose of the ridge?



 

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from what I have been able to work out-the ridges were only on convertibles
Good observation, haven't paid much attention the belairs definitely do not have the extra ridge, those ridges are put in to strengthen that area, maybe the engineers of the time thought the rag tops may have needed extra strength in those areas.
 

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Just had a look at My "57 Alice" 4 door sedan Does NOT have the ridge
Regs David
 

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Different body styles have different side walls and wheel wells. The sedan wheel wells look smooth with only the one bead right at the bottom before the weld joint to the floor... as shown in your second pic. The hardtop and convt' have the style shown in your first pic. If memory serves the sports sedans side walls and wells are the same as a four door sedan.The side walls have different beads as well, the two door sedan is different from a four door sedan, that's one of the things most people who make their own convertible's don't change. They get a cheap four door sedan and start cutting and welding convt' sheet metal! Have a look at multiple cars of different body styles and you'll see the differences immediately, that's one of those things that most people don't pay attention to or notice.
 

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What's the reason for the vertical bracing just outboard of the trunk hinge? The silver car has it, the blue car doesn't.

56 210 2-door hardtop here.... no vertical bracing next to the trunk hinge (like the blue car), but it has the horizontal ridge (like the silver car).

Hybrid design?
 
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