After I advertised a Chevrolet 150 in Germany in early March, I received a special response. Whether I was interested in a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. A car that was originally delivered in the Netherlands in 1957, from first owner, stainless and stored since 1985.
By: Daniel Schop
Of course I had an ear for that. I thought to myself that it would be very nice if it was all as described. Of course I went into it, asked for pictures, and saw a beautiful car on what an unclear picture. The salesperson told me he was burdened with selling the Chevrolet. A car that belonged to his late stepfather. He had put it away in 1985 for safekeeping. Well, I can tell you that saving was successful!
Pick up the Chevrolet, on to the Gooi
The appointment was made for the following Friday. In the morning I got into the car with some tension on my way to the Gooi, where the Chevrolet was in the garage behind the house. "What a beautiful original Chevrolet Bel Air," I thought to myself. I became silent. The car was complete, everything was included ... booklets, maintenance history. And that on Friday the 13the 2020. Despite all the nasty reports about coronavirus, my day couldn't go wrong!
A gem, which has been heated in the garage since 1985, on bokken to spare the tires. Neatly filled with oil and injected with fatty wax on the bottom. The car was completely original inside and out, rock-hard and rust-free!
I opened the door and man does this car smell nice inside. If I had to describe it, a real old-timer air. The enthusiast undoubtedly knows what I mean by it. The interior is like new. As if time has stood still. This doesn't happen to me often, but I was silent and couldn't believe my eyes. What a great find!
Original number plates. NL sticker and even the sign for North Holland on the boot lid, newspapers from 1957 and 1958, original booklets, lubrication cards from the garage, coconut mats, spare lamps. Too many to mention, but how beautiful!
Soon I agreed with the family about the price. The agreed amount was transferred immediately and the trailer was driven in front of the garage. Now I was a bit tense again: would the Chevrolet still roll after 35 years ?? "Otherwise it is quite a challenge to get it on the trailer," I thought to myself. But the car was 'loose' and was pushed in front of the trailer with unified forces, where the winch was allowed to take over. We said goodbye to the friendly family and happy we went back to Giessen. Where at least twenty people on the road gave their thumbs up approvingly. What a wonderful feeling! It's the things that make my job so much fun and keep me motivated.
The original Dutch registration
Once home, the Bel Air stayed on the trailer for a while. I would like to go to the RDW to get the cleaned number plate back. I could go straight after the weekend, a nice stroke of luck. The friendly judge has made the chassis number clearly legible again, checked the papers and inspected the rest. I was able to keep the old license plate number and the papers were prepared.
The first steps
Now we could start trying to revive this Chevrolet after 35 years. An exciting, but fun job. Before that, the car went to colleague Erwin from Car-Direct a week later, a young and professional company that I have worked with since they started 5 years ago.
Erwin started his career among American cars and has a great affinity for old-timers. Together with him I want to prepare the Bel Air after his long hibernation.
The old and broken battery was the first to be replaced. Although a new copy, but one that fits the old style. It became a Wilco battery, of which we did not connect the poles yet. The spark plugs were removed from the cylinder head, but not before the cables were numbered according to the cylinder in which they were mounted. The cylinder sleeves were viewed with the endoscope. That actually didn't look wrong at all. A little bit of flash rust was present, so the cylinder chambers were filled with WD 40.
Once on the bridge, the inspection of the bottom noticed how incredibly rust free the car is. But also how little has been tinkered with. Even the pipes are all still neat. That makes me happy!
Fuel tank and lines
Next came the turn of the tank. The drain plug was unscrewed and then nothing happened. The old gasoline had gone bad and the tank - and therefore the drain hole - was full of sludge. We decided to disassemble the tank. And hoped that we could still clean it in some way. Of course we wanted to keep the car as original as possible and try to save the tank.
The tank float pipes and wire were disconnected. The tank brackets loose. A careful attempt was made to move the filler pipe out of the rubber by moving it slightly. Some WD40 also helped here and, hop, the tank went loose. The pipe from the tank to the mechanical pump was disconnected from the pump and purged with air and some brake cleaner to dissolve any debris. So that it is also clean again. This also happened with the pipe from the fuel pump to the carburettor. The fuel pump was opened from above to inspect the membrane. That looked fine, not dry and still completely intact. The pump was also beautiful and clean inside. That was also not so bad.
Moving is healthy
After coffee we tried to get the engine moving. We turned the top pulley by hand and here again there was no disappointment. We turned back and forth and injected some WD40 into the cylinders. "Just leave it like this," said Erwin.
The ignition coil was now disconnected and the battery connected. That is always an exciting moment. Is the engine circulating on the starter motor? And it will surprise you… he did, without any problems, nice and smooth without the compression pressure because of the spark plugs.
On the outgoing side of the pump, we let go of the pipe to see if the pump is giving fuel. We held up a loose bottle of fuel next to the car. It was connected to the fuel line on the tank. That did not cause any problems either. The fuel came to the pump as it should and after securing the pipe also to the carburettor.
In a next part we will check if there is spark.
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