1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. What a great find. Part 3

Auto Motor Klassiek » Articles » 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. What a great find. Part 3

In the spring I tracked down a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. An original 1957 car in the Netherlands, from first owner, rust-free and stored since 1985.

You can read about getting on the track, picking up and the first work in the first part via this link. More activities followed, some of which we published, which you can find via this link.

A few months have passed and we have collected all the parts we need. In the meantime we had already replaced spark plugs, cables, rotor distributor cap, ignition coil and the like of the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air and we have a nice spark! Erwin also overhauled the carburettor with a revision set from C&P.

The continuation of the work

The radiator and heater radiator are also inside, so we can get back to work and are looking forward to it! We start with the tank. We ordered it new and it fits perfectly. It is therefore a piece of cake to mount and connect it, the tank float also works well, after which the pipes were checked.

The new fuel pump is also placed after the tank. The mechanical fuel pump is mounted on the side of the block. When this job is done I run 20 liters of petrol into the tank (Super 98) and check again if nothing is leaking, which is fortunately not the case.

Cooling system

Now the brakes are on. We fit new brake cylinders and linings. While Erwin disassembles everything, I clean the drums and sand them lightly so that we can immediately assemble everything neatly again.

The brakes were a chore that went smoothly and satisfied we drink a cup of coffee with a nice slice of cake, and then start working on the radiator.

Last time we flushed the cooling system nicely. Unfortunately the heater radiator started to leak and we have expanded it to have it repaired.

We have taken the heater radiator and the injured radiator to RDN in Waalwijk. A company specialized in reconditioning radiators. We work with a friendly and professional team. Owner Harrie likes to think along and advised me to build a slightly thicker block in the radiator for more cooling capacity. I take his advice to heart.

Installing the radiator is not a difficult job. We first install the new water pump. There's plenty of space in the front of the large 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. You can walk around the bike. The hoses are also renewed and a new thermostat installed. These are not the costs and we do not save on this. The heater radiator is also no problem. What a space everywhere, that is different from today's cars, where everything is crammed and for such jobs a complete dashboard has to be removed regularly to gain access.

Now we are ready. We check everything, run it together, and fill the radiator. Just squeeze the hoses and wait ... and you can add a few liters of coolant.

Start and ...

The oil is changed, which is necessary, the old oil smells strongly and looks quite dirty.

It's getting exciting. The moment of starting has arrived. “Start it,” says Erwin. “You start it”, I answer. I have sweat in my hands.

Erwin gets into the Bel Air and turns the key, the engine turns smoothly but makes no move to start.

We have Spark, which has already been tested last time. So we see if fuel is coming, a little bit of pressure on the tank with air nozzle and we unscrew the pipe at the carburetor. After starting around a few times we get fuel.

The pipe is tightened again and we start again. The engine will now start immediately. Just a big plume from the exhaust because of the oil we sprayed on the pistons a few weeks ago.

It runs like a sewing machine. No weird noises or ticking valves, we get in enthusiastically. We are very curious whether the automatic transmission also wants to wake up. But this has been awake for a long time and reacts immediately when switching on to the R from reverse.

Test drive

We look at each other with a smile from ear to ear and put him in the D for drive. And yes, we are moving forward. Slowly test the brakes, they also work. The car continues to go straight ahead, while slowing down.

The engine is now allowed to warm up slowly. We increase the speed a little, the automatic transmission also switches to 2. That is again a great reassurance and the 15-minute test drive goes great, until the temperature gauge goes into the corner, after which we decide to park the car again in the workshop.

Some more niggles

We see some water running down the radiator cap and come to the conclusion that the cap is not closing properly. In addition, there is probably still quite a bit of air in the cooling system, which of course is to be expected if it has been completely empty.

The next day we replace the cap and top up the coolant one more time. We drive a nice bit again. Now the temperature remains good. We look at each other approvingly, the Bel Air has been brought back to life.

Good ending

The Bel Air has a nice bath. After this operation and the test drive, it is time to let him relax. We lather it with good shampoo and rinse it with warm water to give it the most beautiful place in the showroom, in the Marilyn Monroe and Elvis corner next to the bar.

Together with Erwin I toast to a happy ending and we drink a nice bottle of beer.

Before I go home I knock Opa (the Bel-Air) on his roof for a moment: "Next week the beautician will come for you, you deserve that, you old villain!"

A week later, thanks to friend Ad, the Bel Air is super neat, nicely polished and waxed. What a pleasure to have such a beauty at home.

Of course, as an AMK reader, you can also come and see this Bel-Air. He is assisting www.daanschop.nl. Just let us know when you want to come, and the coffee will be ready.


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  1. Hi Daan,
    Great that the Bel-Air is in order, and that everything went according to plan. You never know with old cars, will soon start on my 56er Chevy. Unfortunately for me a few surprises, but they can also be solved. My main concern is the sky and the leakage at the rear window, this one has gotten worse.
    Now find space for crafting for the coming period.

    g Klaus

  2. Very nice project!
    I have now delivered a 1'er, original NL, a 55L V4.4, after 8 years of inactivity and 50 years of work, a rest period….
    42.000 km just run… .. 1st paint still….
    Gr. Jeroen

  3. Hi,

    I was also allowed to own such a Bel Air in 1992. Was a green / blue (turquoise) from 1956 with the original Dutch registration which also started with VP. Think that in 1956 the cars were on the road for a long time by boat and were only registered in the Netherlands in 1957. Always regretted the sale and is still the most beautiful model Bel Air.

    gr. Jake.

    • I think so too, Jaak, and perhaps a large number of 56-ers have been bought who still had to be modified for the European market.
      Too bad he's gone, but you can't keep everything.
      I would like to keep this in the showroom for a while, but will undoubtedly be sold to an enthusiast again.

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