Chevy Tri Five Forum banner
1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few different responses to other posts have stated that restoring a tri-five isnt as simple as restoring a Camaro, Chevelle, Mustang etc. I believe that one post even referenced "window trim" as an example. What exactly makes these cars so difficult? In my "newnie" mind, trim is trim etc. Could you folks please elaborate? As usual, thank you for your patience and indulgence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,217 Posts
The answer to your question is - carefully review the repro parts available for a tri-five versus first generation Camaro or Mustang.

I haven't checked in a number of years, but a complete interior kit for a tri-five cost at least twice as much as the Camaro or Mustang. Also note there are a gazillion little trim parts all over the tri-five. Besides having far more pieces than the Camaro or Mustang, each piece is more expensive.

Tri-five mechanical parts are still generally available, but it's still easier to find Camaro and Mustang parts in stock at your local auto parts store. You might have to order certain tri-five parts, and they may or may not be more expensive.

Note that I considered both Camaros and Mustangs many years ago before buying a tri-five. It clearly would have been cheaper parts-wise to go the other route, but I just liked the tri-fives better than either the Camaro or Mustang.

Personal opinion thing: after years of hearing "Mustang, Mustang, Mustang", I was disappointed when I actually went out and drove a few that were for sale. I actually liked driving my daily driver Honda Civic more than the Mustangs I drove. But, the first tri-five I drove - that was a different story (obviously).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The answer to your question is - carefully review the repro parts available for a tri-five versus first generation Camaro or Mustang.

I haven't checked in a number of years, but a complete interior kit for a tri-five cost at least twice as much as the Camaro or Mustang. Also note there are a gazillion little trim parts all over the tri-five. Besides having far more pieces than the Camaro or Mustang, each piece is more expensive.

Tri-five mechanical parts are still generally available, but it's still easier to find Camaro and Mustang parts in stock at your local auto parts store. You might have to order certain tri-five parts, and they may or may not be more expensive.

Note that I considered both Camaros and Mustangs many years ago before buying a tri-five. It clearly would have been cheaper parts-wise to go the other route, but I just liked the tri-fives better than either the Camaro or Mustang.
Thanks for the clarification. When I read responses claiming "complicated", I was thinking in terms of work complexity.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,376 Posts
The Geek nailed it.

In the 1950's cars were still pretty much hand assembled at the factory and they had lots and lots of hands on them. It really never occurred to the execs. that having 40 pieces of hardware on a dash board reduced down to 17 was good idea yet. That having just as much bright work and trim on the interior as later cars had on the exterior was pricey. That plastic chrome was easy to make and stainless steel was the opposite.

10 years of evolution and the influence of the American Auto Workers Union had a massive effect on how cars would be built. If they attempted to build a 55 Chevrolet Convertible in 1965 it would have cost $40,000 on the lot and that would be 1965 dollars.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,376 Posts
Thanks for the clarification. When I read responses claiming "complicated", I was thinking in terms of work complexity.
Complexity is an understatement.

You will have to learn all about "Sequence" and it can drive you batty. What order these things come apart and go back together is complicated.

Knowing what type of screws and bolts go into specific holes is also complicated as there are trim screws with course threads right next to machined threaded fasteners with the exact same head on it.

What is not complicated is the general mechanical side of these cars. their suspension and drive trains are as simple as it gets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,217 Posts
Without sounding too "uppity", the $ really isnt an issue. It's just trying to decide the right route to take.
Well, let me tell you my story.

I've been drawn to cars - especially old ones - since I was a little kid. When I was young, the local TV stations still aired silent slapstick comedies (1910s-1920s) on Saturday afternoons. What did I like best about watching them - the cars! Even the Three Stooges sometimes had good 1930s car shots (aired by the same TV stations on Saturday afternoon).

Whenever we were driving around town and I saw something old on the road - that was a good day.

Fast forward through the years. I was married, had a small child, and partway through graduate school (read: money is very tight) when the desire to own something "interesting" hit really hard - again. This time, I decided I was going to do something about it as soon as we got a little money ahead.

I started by making a list of all my favorite cars. The list spanned from the 1920s through early 1970s, and filled the front and half the back of a sheet of notebook paper. Hmm...gotta narrow this down a bit. So, I started researching the pros and cons of the various cars on the list - purchase price, parts availability, drivability in modern-day traffic, engineering design pros and cons, etc.

I went out and drove a couple of early Mustangs for sale in the "nice driver" category. I was really disappointed. After driving the first one, I drove off in my Honda Civic, and said, "I like driving my Civic more than the Mustang". Hmm...that can't be right. I drove an even nicer driver Mustang - same thing. Scratch that.

A very average-ish Camaro I drove was better, but...

One day, I drove a mostly unrestored '56 Bel Air 4 door with a few issues (including price). I took my wife and son along. Afterwards, she asked me what I thought. I said, "I don't want that car, but I want one like it".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,217 Posts
It's not complicated to restore one. It comes down to time and your work ethic, skill, ability and tools. It also come down to how much you are committed to the project. If you aren't 100 % into it it will show and be complicated.
Todd
True.

Mechanically, working on a tri-five isn't all that much different than a 1960s Chevelle or Camaro. (It's a little different, but not as much as you'd think.) Body-wise, the tri-five is more expensive and a bit trickier.

Of course, "expensive" and "difficult" are relative terms.

I'll admit it - I really have a thing for Packards from the 1920s and 1930s. To me, they're just beautiful cars. Still, as much as I drool over them, I have a hard time picturing actually owning one. The prices for parts for the 1930s are noticeably more expensive than a tri-five and there are only a couple of sources who basically control the market. The 1920s are almost impossible - parts are extremely limited. And the 1920s parts prices - how would you like to pay $300 for a distributor cap? No thanks...

As bad as that is, I have a friend who's into 1920s Franklins. He flat-out told me once that there's nothing reproduced for those cars. You have to know someone who has the parts you need or fabricate them yourself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,217 Posts
As far as the Packards I mentioned - that's based on personal research.

Several years ago, a late 1920s Packard showed up on Craigslist less than 2 hours from where I live. It was your basic "car in the barn" thing, but the photos looked pretty good for a car like that. And I liked the price.

So, I started researching the car - from an engineering standpoint, they were well ahead of the mid-priced cars of the era, and waaay ahead of Fords and Chevys. I really liked that.

Then, I started researching the parts that I'd expect to need to put it back on the road. Uh oh.

I also looked at a pretty nice late 1930s "junior Packard" (110) convertible. It was your basic decent driver car. But, on the test drive, I noticed the synchros for second and third gear weren't the best. The standard Packard suppliers didn't have said parts. I might have been able to find these parts with some diligent searching, but I decided not to pursue it.

Parts for a '57 Chevy are pretty easy to come by. Parts for a '57 Oldsmobile - not so much.

So, you are wise to be asking these questions now, instead after you've bought something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The Geek nailed it.

In the 1950's cars were still pretty much hand assembled at the factory and they had lots and lots of hands on them. It really never occurred to the execs. that having 40 pieces of hardware on a dash board reduced down to 17 was good idea yet. That having just as much bright work and trim on the interior as later cars had on the exterior was pricey. That plastic chrome was easy to make and stainless steel was the opposite.

10 years of evolution and the influence of the American Auto Workers Union had a massive effect on how cars would be built. If they attempted to build a 55 Chevrolet Convertible in 1965 it would have cost $40,000 on the lot and that would be 1965 dollars.
Mr. Haas, you "nailed it" as well. Thanks to you both.
Well, let me tell you my story.

I've been drawn to cars - especially old ones - since I was a little kid. When I was young, the local TV stations still aired silent slapstick comedies (1910s-1920s) on Saturday afternoons. What did I like best about watching them - the cars! Even the Three Stooges sometimes had good 1930s car shots (aired by the same TV stations on Saturday afternoon).

Whenever we were driving around town and I saw something old on the road - that was a good day.

Fast forward through the years. I was married, had a small child, and partway through graduate school (read: money is very tight) when the desire to own something "interesting" hit really hard - again. This time, I decided I was going to do something about it as soon as we got a little money ahead.

I started by making a list of all my favorite cars. The list spanned from the 1920s through early 1970s, and filled the front and half the back of a sheet of notebook paper. Hmm...gotta narrow this down a bit. So, I started researching the pros and cons of the various cars on the list - purchase price, parts availability, drivability in modern-day traffic, engineering design pros and cons, etc.

I went out and drove a couple of early Mustangs for sale in the "nice driver" category. I was really disappointed. After driving the first one, I drove off in my Honda Civic, and said, "I like driving my Civic more than the Mustang". Hmm...that can't be right. I drove an even nicer driver Mustang - same thing. Scratch that.

A very average-ish Camaro I drove was better, but...

One day, I drove a mostly unrestored '56 Bel Air 4 door with a few issues (including price). I took my wife and son along. Afterwards, she asked me what I thought. I said, "I don't want that car, but I want one like it".
Great story. Mine goes something like this: As a high schooler, my dream car was an orange 70 Chevelle with white racing stripes. Way too much $$$$ for a kid with a job bagging groceries. Next came the Starsky and Hutch Grand Torino. In my early 20's my older brother gave me his 68 Dodge Charger that he bought new. I sold it to buy a street motorcycle. Fast forward to today, $$$ is not an issue. Everything that I own, house,truck, cars, boat are all paid for. Now it's just deciding what route to go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,061 Posts
The tri-five definitely still has some advantages over other cars. The amount of reproduction parts available in the aftermarket is amazing, and that always makes the game a lot easier to play as long a funds allow for a stream of boxes of shiny new stuff showing up at the door. I really like the Olds, Buicks, and Pontiacs from this era as well, but parts are way harder to get, more expensive, and with less choice than for a Chevrolet.

I like driving the wheels off my old cars as well as making them 'just right' so I appreciate cars like my Model T, CJ7, and the new en route '55 where I can go online and have anything I need at my door 2 days later. I really love oddball stuff but frankly don't have the time to scour dozens of swap meets for oddball parts that aren't made anymore or get things custom made to original specs. Any car you can practically build from vendors catalogs is the way to go for first / light projects that you actually want to drive sooner rather than later IMO.

@Showtime586 If you get a nice clean running driving car with no significant issues, you'll probably still find enough stuff you'd like to fix/change/improve to give you something to tinker with and avoid the hassle of a full restoration. Plus, they're old cars and stuff will break, giving you ample opportunities to get some wrench time in. Avoid rust like the plague unless you want to end up with either a disassembled vehicle, a bunch of new metalworking tools, and hundreds of hours of work ahead of you, or a five figure bill for someone else to do it. If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, pay someone who does to give you a hand, money well spent.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
973 Posts
Complexity is an understatement.

You will have to learn all about "Sequence" and it can drive you batty. What order these things come apart and go back together is complicated.


Knowing what type of screws and bolts go into specific holes is also complicated as there are trim screws with course threads right next to machined threaded fasteners with the exact same head on it.


What is not complicated is the general mechanical side of these cars. their suspension and drive trains are as simple as it gets.
This is very true ( ya nailed it), if your the one chasing the parts and doing the work.
If your paying someone to do this, it's good to know the sequence , just to keep who ever your paying straight ( and make sure your getting your moneys worth). Often times, I talk with guys with nice tri fives, and find they know nothing about their car ( some times I'm lucky and find a "seasoned" owner).
I've owned my 56 since 1977, and am still learning things about it. I had a tough time thinking thru doing a wagon bumper on my sedan, I called Ol 55 and discussed if I was crazy or not with them, and got a great deal on some wagon bumper guards from an old timer on this site. I really like being my own project manager ( most of the time)
This forum offers someone( ones's) to help look over your shoulder if needed- ya can't put a price on something like that.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top