Episode 1 – With Project C10 wrapped up, we are excited to get started with our next project car. Listen to the history behind this ’53 Chevy Bel Air as Rick Drewry shares with us his plan for its restoration; complete with engine work, bodywork, wiring, and interior updates. This restoration is going to be a budget build, and when completed, it will be a very reliable, cool-cruising, daily-driver with ramped up horsepower to give this classic car some kick.
Episode 1 – Video Transcript
Rick Drewry: All right, I’m going to start with a little bit about the story on the car. It’s a 1953 Chevy, two-door Sedan. It’s something that I’ve had for 14-15 years. It has just been sitting. The car was actually in a garage fire. The car didn’t catch on fire, but the garage did. A lot of the material came down on the car. It burnt the roof, burnt the hood and the tops of the fenders, burnt the dash, the windshield, and smoked the whole inside of the interior.
A little history behind the ’53 Chevy; for me, for some reason, I’m drawn to the ’53 and ’54 Chevy Bel Airs. It’s kind of like the bastard stepchild of the Bel Airs, but I think they’re good cars. I had a model of one when I was a kid that I built, and for some reason, I’ve always been drawn to it. So when this one came available for 800 bucks, I figured worst happens is I get it, it’s not worth messing with, and I part it out or resell it. So, it wasn’t anything lost. It was a day trip to Chicago and back to pick it up. As I said, I’ve had it now for about 15 years.
The engine turned out to be junk because it was filled with water from, I guess when they put the fire out. The cylinder walls were already rusted; they were not in good shape. What I did was, I ended up getting in trade an ’86 third-gen Camaro project. I sold off the body; got rid of it, but I kept what was in it. Which was a 4-bolt main 350, and I believe the engine’s around a 74. No, I’m sorry, it’s a 79 block. So, it’s your standard 4-bolt main truck motor 350.
My idea for the car is to have a cool cruiser out of it, and a 4-bolt main 350, built mild with Bor-Tech heads, is what I’m doing. With the five-speed behind it, it’s going to make it go down the highway fine. I love driving a stick anyway. It’ll have a hydraulic clutch setup.
The whole idea behind this is to build this into a driver, and it’s kind of a budget built. I’m not doing a high end, throw money at it kind of build where it costs a bunch of money and turns out awesome, but it’s pretty expensive. So for this car, I want to build it to be my daily driver and to make it comfortable, drive well, have just enough pep in it that I like it. I’m thinking mid 300s horsepower-wise. If you get much bigger than that; get over 400 horsepower, the T5 doesn’t really hold up that well. So, keeping it under 400 horsepower, but very, very reliable.
But the good thing is, with this car, the bottom half of the car is in good shape. The floor pans have been replaced on it. Not that they’re great, but they were replaced. There seems like an inch thick of undercoating underneath this car. There’s very little rust that I have to mess with on it. It’s been kind of repaired before. It would not be worth stripping this down all the way to bare metal and starting over. I’m talking to do it 100% right; I would be putting all brand new floor pans in it and welding it all in. I’d probably spend a month just trying to get this undercoating off. Instead, I’m going to leave it as is because there are no issues with it. It’s solid as a rock, and you can’t really tell, and I don’t care if people know. I’m just telling you about the car.
With that, I’ve got a blank slate to mess with, and I’m looking forward to building this car. I’m trying to get two to three hours a day on the car. I come out in the evenings when it’s cooler and see what I can get done. The progress has been going well. I’ve got several parts for it already. Like I said, with the engine, I’m going to share all the different things I’ve done with the engine. Getting the engine from something that’s been sitting around for 15-20 years; to get it up and ready to use. As well as, what I’m doing to the body. What I’ll end up doing to the transmission, the wiring, you name it, but also have to fix where it got burnt, which would include cutting out and welding in a new dash. So hang tight, and we’ll see what we get done. And I’ll keep everybody posted.
Legacy of Classic Auto Insurance
Classic Automobile Insurance Agency is a family business built on a love of classic cars. We take every opportunity to bring you unique learning opportunities like our hugely successful Project C10, powered by American Modern. Having owned a variety of collectible vehicles ourselves, we understand your unique needs and the special protections your iconic ride requires. Whether you bought it at auction, drove it off the lot, or restored it to perfection in your garage, we will build you a customized auto insurance program designed specifically for owners of collectible cars and will provide the top-notch customer support you expect. Visit our website at www.classicins.com to get an instant quote online or call 888-901-1338 and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.