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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I hope I put this in the correct area? I just recently became an owner of a 1957 Belair sedan, its all original (except the fuel pump and line going to the carb) and unrestored. It's in very good shape, a bit of fading paint and both front and rear seats have a small area where the seams are coming apart. Underneath is super clean, the floor is perfect, the frame is straight only has basic surface rust and so on.... SO my question is, would value wise the car be better left alone and just cleaned up, or would swapping an LS based power train, like a 5.3 or 6.0 and an 4l65E just basic stuff nothing radical as well as power disc brakes and upgraded power steering be better? Just asking, I have ideas for what I'd like to do but just wondering which way would be worth more money down the road so speak...
 

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Stock, un-restored runner. verses a patina unrestored body with an LS and small upgrades,.. like a wrecking yard LS and some Chevelle brakes will net close to the same money. Every dollar you are going to put in it in parts calculating labor as free if you are doing it yourself.....???


Keep your money and put a for sale sign in the window.

Fully restored with every part correct and detailed verses the same level of finish on a resto-mod..Same story. The Resto Mod will bring a higher retail value but at an elevated build costs.

Welcome to the battle. These cars are in flux right now. I think the correct restored examples are going to start gaining ground and in the next 10 years eclipse their modified siblings.
 

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Here is the thing. If you bought this car to turn a profit you may have made a mistake, lol. It may very well turn a profit but all of that is determined by the build itself, and the whim of the market at the time you decide to sell. If you really like the car, go play and make it what you want. Then enjoy it for as long as you want. Life is short.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So my purpose for buying this car has nothing to do with selling it honestly. I've never had a car this age so clean and I'm very torn with which direction to go in the spring with it. My original plan was to swap a mild LS based engine with a mild 4speed auto, 4L60E-4L70E, upgrade the brakes and steering ad AC and drive it. My son and I do a lot of swaps for other people mostly but I personally own 3 we've done over the years. They are are my '87 K5, my daily driver '93 Blazer and a ridiculous 2000 Tacoma. We either buy gm crate engines or rebuild used donors, depending what the owner is after. That info has little relevance to my asking about the value of the car. I really want to proceed with my original plan, but honestly, I kinda feel bad for planning on taking apart a car this solid and original... however I'm not sure the 65 year old 265 and power glide will offer the reliability power train wise I'm after. Also I want more safety and piece of mind upgrading the brakes and steering will offer as well... I love the car and want use it more than look at it...
 

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So my purpose for buying this car has nothing to do with selling it honestly. I've never had a car this age so clean and I'm very torn with which direction to go in the spring with it. My original plan was to swap a mild LS based engine with a mild 4speed auto, 4L60E-4L70E, upgrade the brakes and steering ad AC and drive it. My son and I do a lot of swaps for other people mostly but I personally own 3 we've done over the years. They are are my '87 K5, my daily driver '93 Blazer and a ridiculous 2000 Tacoma. We either buy gm crate engines or rebuild used donors, depending what the owner is after. That info has little relevance to my asking about the value of the car. I really want to proceed with my original plan, but honestly, I kinda feel bad for planning on taking apart a car this solid and original... however I'm not sure the 65 year old 265 and power glide will offer the reliability power train wise I'm after. Also I want more safety and piece of mind upgrading the brakes and steering will offer as well... I love the car and want use it more than look at it...
I moved this to the general stock section from the wagon section. If you decided LS then post in the LS section for questions about swap/build or post in the build/project section when you start and want to show progress.


If the car is complete and depending on model and engine value maybe more in selling it complete if rust free.

If the car is low miles then the orginal V8 maybe fine. Add EFI reseal paint and enjoy. You can swap a 4 speed in with it. But if you done plenty of swaps then LS swap is a nobrainer. Toss on LS and 4L in it and enjoy. LS swaps are bolt in so drilling a few holes won't really hurt anything. Nor welding to the frame all can be undone. Having a rust free car to start with makes things WAY easier and more fun. A 5.3L with mild cam and 4L60 with 3.08's would make for a great crusier and still have plenty of power and get decent MPG if you keep your foot out of it.
 

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Some good points made. If your are generally happy with how the car drives, you’d be on the right side of expenditure vs value just going over things. Even the brakes- a well functioning drum set up will work quite well; only when you significantly add to the traction of the tires will there be a ton of difference in stopping distances.
One thing to consider about an LS swap (I’m a fan of them, by the way) - don’t cut corners on the engine management or the wiring. Anecdotally, I’ve seen guys “install electrical issues” into their cars with a modern engine transplant they did to make the car more reliable.
So- if you are happy with how it runs and drives, just go thru the various systems and enjoy. Properly maintained, a stock car can be dead reliable. If you want it to be faster, turn better and stop better, then by all means those things can be addressed.
The first question is what do you want from the car. The next is what will it cost. As for what it’ll be worth? Subjective.
 

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You've already addressed the question on "What do you want to do with this car"? Sounds like you want to drive it and enjoy it. And wondering what it's going to be worth after all that is a normal natural thing to think. In my mind, finding a tri-five in original condition is not the same as Wayne Carini, (Chasing Classic Cars), finding a vintage European sports car in original condition from a value stand point. Robert makes a valid point that full restorations might gain ground over resto-mods at some point. But that's not what you have.

I totally agree with what Ray (Postman57), is saying. Go through and figure out what you can do to the way it sits now to maintain and make it safe before tearing too much apart. I'm also a fan of LS engines, but if you just want to get in it and drive it, a basic 290 HP 350 Crate Motor with a carb can be just as reliable and give you plenty of acceleration for having fun. Keep in mind an LS will likely necessitate going to a different fuel tank with an in-tank fuel pump. Not to mention all the various sensors, computers, fuse boxes, etc that go with an LS.

The bottom line with these cars is one thing usually leads to another. Let's say you go to the trouble to upgrade steering, front brakes, maybe an anti-sway bar front and rear, and some sort of crate motor. Even if you simplify the motor and transmission with a non LS motor, at some point your going to want it to stay cool with a new radiator and your gauges to read accurately, (maybe they already do), and lights and wiper motor to function correctly. This usually leads to buying a new wiring harness and re-wiring the car bumper to bumper. These are all good things from a safety and re-sale stand point. But it sort of supports my statement that one thing always leads to another.

I've never ever heard of a tri-five guy claiming that a car build or upgrades went according to plan or at least stayed as simple as the original plan. And for sure never heard of one coming in at or under planned $ spend. And none of this is a reason to not do it. Just trying to forewarn you that it's usually a journey that rarely goes according to plan (or budget). The good thing about upgrading, re-building, restoring or resto-modding a tri-five is that every single part you can think of is available in one form or another.

Whatever you do, please start a thread on this to keep us all posted. Many of us still live vicariously through others and love reading about other people's builds.
 

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1957 2 door sedan 210, (running) & 1957 2 door B/A hardtop (apart)[
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It is my opinion that unless you just get it running and safe, any money you put in will not be recovered in a future sale regardless of which direction you choose. You need to decide what will be most enjoyable for you. These cars for most of us are hobbies, and hobbies cost money. Enjoy your cr.
 
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