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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.
Thanks, Robert.

As far as the 1950s versus 1960s cars go, we have to keep things in historical perspective.

Consider the decades of the 20th century.

Between 1900 and 1920, the paradigm shifts in technology were staggering. Of course, the focus of things shifted when World War I broke out. It went on for quite awhile before the US got pulled into it. Finally, in November of 1918, that was over - only to be followed by the flu epidemic that went on until 1920. Much of the 1910s decade was pretty grim.

The 1920s have been repeatedly referred to as "The Roaring '20s". There's a lot to that. With the war and pandemic behind, technology continuing to change daily life, new philosophies on life, lifestyle, clothing, music, etc. - it was generally a prosperous and wide-open decade. And, the latter half of the decade, the stock market took off, making at least some people very rich very quickly.

Then came the stock market crash, bank failures, and the Depression. Everything went to crap in the early 1930s. Then came World War II. Things went further to crap. I mean - really to crap, as the question was whether the rising totalitarian governments would conquer the world. Fortunately, they were ultimately defeated, but at a very great cost.

Finally, things started to clear after 1945. There was still a bit of a rough transition, but things slowly started on the upswing again. And it's no more apparent than the taste in cars.

Let's face it - the industry-wide new car designs which appeared in 1949 were boring. Or, as the British saying goes - "dull as ditch water". Yawn. But, between 1955 and 1960, "living large" styling reflected the times. Tail fins, two and three-tone paint schemes in every imaginable color, chrome and stainless everywhere - there was a "let's enjoy life again" thinking going on everywhere in life (the Cold War aside), including the cars they bought. The Dull-Mobiles of the early 1950s were so "yesterday's news" - longer, lower, wider, more powerful, and shinier was the order of the day. Glitz sells, baby....

By the early 1960s, it was apparent, "umm...we think we overdid it on car styling just a bit", and things toned down. The mega-flop of the Edsel was probably the beginning of the end. True cost control became a little more fashionable. I also think they finally ran out of "over the top" styling ideas which were practical to produce. And, I guess people weren't really that interested in driving to work and the grocery store in cars that resembled rocket ships.
 

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I don't buy into this concept of trifives being more complicated or the parts being more expensive. Or that rust and its extent is more so on a trifive.
First off, I think I'm the one who said they were more complicated in a recent post (comparing them to Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, etc). I stand by that statement 100%. A lot of it has to do with the stainless and chrome work on these cars. There's a lot of pieces to these cars.

Let's just take the window assemblies on a two door hardtop as an example and compare that to a 1970 Camaro. On the tri-five you have a fully chrome and stainless trimmed out vent window assembly that is also part of the front window assembly (at least in the door it is). Rubber, chrome trim, and the integrated front window channel are part of it. Then there's the front window itself, also completely chrome trimmed. The you have window felts, belt liner, and of course the crank and whatnot. Then you also have the upper flipper assembly (which is indeed expensive to replace and even if you have a good one, it'll need to be restored...these are all stainless btw). So that's just the front and vent window. Then you have the upper stainless trim on the rear window, which is also completely chrome trimmed, and the seals that go between the front flippers and the rear upper stainless trim. In addition to that trim, there's the dog leg interior trim in the rear. Oh, there's also the exterior belt line trim too ;) Oh, I forgot about the interior upper door moldings too..I can't even remember what they're called (the ones that can be chromed and burn your arm in the sun!).

Compare that to a Camaro from the 70's (which has no vent window, no rear window, no stainless flippers, no chrome trim, no belt line moldings) and you can tell me which is more complicated and therefor expensive to restore. If you buy a car missing this stuff, it would cost you a good deal of money to replace it.

I haven't even touched on the stainless exterior trim (especially on the Belairs) or all the stainless in the headliner area.

I would agree that rust isn't any worse or better on tri-fives. All cars of this era (70's and back) that haven't been restored are going to have rust regardless of where they're at (geographically).
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
First off, I think I'm the one who said they were more complicated in a recent post (comparing them to Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, etc). I stand by that statement 100%. A lot of it has to do with the stainless and chrome work on these cars. There's a lot of pieces to these cars.

Let's just take the window assemblies on a two door hardtop as an example and compare that to a 1970 Camaro. On the tri-five you have a fully chrome and stainless trimmed out vent window assembly that is also part of the front window assembly (at least in the door it is). Rubber, chrome trim, and the integrated front window channel are part of it. Then there's the front window itself, also completely chrome trimmed. The you have window felts, belt liner, and of course the crank and whatnot. Then you also have the upper flipper assembly (which is indeed expensive to replace and even if you have a good one, it'll need to be restored...these are all stainless btw). So that's just the front and vent window. Then you have the upper stainless trim on the rear window, which is also completely chrome trimmed, and the seals that go between the front flippers and the rear upper stainless trim. In addition to that trim, there's the dog leg interior trim in the rear. Oh, there's also the exterior belt line trim too ;) Oh, I forgot about the interior upper door moldings too..I can't even remember what they're called (the ones that can be chromed and burn your arm in the sun!).

Compare that to a Camaro from the 70's (which has no vent window, no rear window, no stainless flippers, no chrome trim, no belt line moldings) and you can tell me which is more complicated and therefor expensive to restore. If you buy a car missing this stuff, it would cost you a good deal of money to replace it.

I haven't even touched on the stainless exterior trim (especially on the Belairs) or all the stainless in the headliner area.

I would agree that rust isn't any worse or better on tri-fives. All cars of this era (70's and back) that haven't been restored are going to have rust regardless of where they're at (geographically).
Actually there was more than you , but thank you for the insight. It is very much appreciated.
 

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Its not all that difficult. If you read all the posts you will see different opinions. Take your time don't rush. Remember its your car.. ask question when your stumped on a problem. your in a good place here with all these Tri-Five brothers. Some one always has an answer.visualize your dream of what you would like to see in the end. I kept the same vision and so far 5 yrs in I'm 75 % done. I've been burned out at times but I always come back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Its not all that difficult. If you read all the posts you will see different opinions. Take your time don't rush. Remember its your car.. ask question when your stumped on a problem. your in a good place here with all these Tri-Five brothers. Some one always has an answer.visualize your dream of what you would like to see in the end. I kept the same vision and so far 5 yrs in I'm 75 % done. I've been burned out at times but I always come back.
Thanks. It does seem a bit overwhelming at times.
 

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Thanks for the clarification. When I read responses claiming "complicated", I was thinking in terms of work complexity.
There are a number of restoration books as well as information online. Plus with sites like this one, there is a vast information network of members that will have an answer to your questions. I'd say it's easier to work on these cars then computer driven newer cars. Before purchasing, research the hell out of that particular year/ model and if possible, don't purchase without physically seeing it in person.
 

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Get the Assembly Manual, and the shop manual for your year tri-five. Make a cup of coffee. Read and observe.

One of the beauties of these 55-57 cars is how basic they are, and how virtually everything is rebuildable.

Deal with reputable, reasonable vendors, and make long lists of parts you need, to save on shipping.

It's NOT complicated.

That said, these are NOT cars for the impatient, or short tempered types. Relax, breathe, enjoy. If you get frustrated, stop, and go do something else for a while. I spent the first two years of my restoration UN-doing what previous ham fisted hammer mechanics had done. Then I was able to begin.

If you're not having fun, you're doing it the wrong way.
 

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In my anecdotal experience, I find them to be a bit more…”fiddly” than some others. For example, I helped a buddy put on front sheet metal on his early mustang. Very straightforward and getting the gaps right was easy. Much the same for my cousin’s first gen Camaro.
On my 57, the task was far more daunting. It took much longer and there was a lot more back and forth and converging angles.
That said, not so much more difficult as more time consuming.
 

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My '57 is definitely a more complex build than one of my prior builds that I'll use for comparison, a '73 Plymouth Duster. The Duster didn't have vent windows, no 19 fancy exterior moldings, scripts, vees and quarter inserts that required alignment, no window fuzz channels, and no multiple piece bumpers and the sixteen brackets to hold them up. The factory body panels fitted much better to the body shell, probably a result of better engineering and more modern manufacturing processes. The Duster was a unibody design, meaning no separate frame to have to restore. That by itself saves a ton of time and effort! The Duster had a modern mechanical wiper system (unlike the Rube Goldberg pulley and cable system the '57 had). Far fewer parts to deal with, better fitting factory body parts, no archaic systems to modernize, and unibody construction equals a FAR less complex build compared to a '57 Chevy. Having said all that, I still love my '57!
 

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More stuff, yes. More complicated, not so much.
More parts equals more complexity, and more parts equals more time to assemble. Those are undeniable truths! The Space Shuttle was called the most complicated machine ever built. Why? Because it had 2.5 million parts!
 

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We as owners/builders make it complicated. We’re human and TriFive drivers. It’s in our blood to make it complicated.
 

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In my anecdotal experience, I find them to be a bit more…”fiddly” than some others. For example, I helped a buddy put on front sheet metal on his early mustang. Very straightforward and getting the gaps right was easy. Much the same for my cousin’s first gen Camaro.
On my 57, the task was far more daunting. It took much longer and there was a lot more back and forth and converging angles.
That said, not so much more difficult as more time consuming.
I would guess that you had less issue with panel fitment because both the Mustang and Camaro were unibody construction. To be specific, the early Camaro was unibody from the firewall, back. Plus, both being about 10-12 years newer, which means more advanced engineering and more modernized assembly techniques were employed on those cars.
 

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This is a complication I guess, but more like a gripe. Trifive quarter panels are around $800 and up, Mustang quarter panels are $129 for a complete, and $89 for a face quarter with all the edge flanges. That last price is up from $59 in the past year or so. The kicker is that they fit much better than the Chevy panels.
 
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