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Restoring a 1951 Chev. Bel-Air to factory specs.



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    For anyone seriously interested in swapping out the old 216 for the 235, here's a detailed explanation of how to:

    It's a great swap, with all pros and no cons attached, unlike some engine exchanges.


  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    My mom's first car was also a '52 Chevy (two-door sedan, I don't know if Special or DeLuxe), green, with a three-speed. She learned how to drive on it (1964-65).
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Great link. Makes you wonder why anyone with a tired 216 would do anything but bolt in a 235. Or even better, the truck 261. Or still better, a 302 Jimmy with a few vintage speed parts and maybe an early Hydro. More power, more reliability--and it's "period correct". My conscience would be clear.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Good article. the 235 is far superior. My only point was that the 216's weren't THAT bad!

    And I would have no problem making the conversion. A V-8 I wouldn't do.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Is the 230 from the '60s different than the 235?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    The 230 came out in 1963 and it's a more modern engine with short stroke and seven main bearings.

    The 230 is a stoked version of the 194 that was the optional Nova engine in 1962. The standard engine was a 153 four banger that later became the Iron Duke--GM never throws away a perfectly good engine. I think the four was based on the 194 six tooling.

    The first Chevelle in 1964 had a special 230 with a "general performance" cam and 15 more hp than the Nova and Impala version. Also had a chrome valve cover and air cleaner lid that year only.

    There's also a 250 version that came out in 1966 and a 292 truck six that's still alive and well in UPS trucks.

    There was also a 215 version that Pontiac used in '64-65. The 230-250 OHC Pontiac six was based on the Chevy six block.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Good little engine the 230. They used them in Checker cabs I believe, as well as the 283.


  • I could be mistaken, but I don't think the Bel Air model came out in 1953. The '53 and '54s were almost identical, and, I believe, they were the first Chevys with a one piece windshield.
  • ubbermotorubbermotor Posts: 307
    The Bel Air name arrived in 1950 to designate the Chevrolet Hardtop. It was also the first year of the 235, which carried on to '62.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    the Bel Air become an an entire series? As in hardtop, 4-door sedan, 2-door sedan, etc? Was it 1955?
  • ubbermotorubbermotor Posts: 307
    1953, 150 Special, 210 Deluxe, and 240 Bel Air. In '55 Special and Deluxe became just the 150 and 210, while Bel Air dropped the 240. For what reason, I do not know.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    like the 150, 210, etc just internal platform designations, or assembly line designations or something like that? Kinda like how my '57 DeSoto Firedome is referred to sometimes as "S-25" or something along those lines?
  • ubbermotorubbermotor Posts: 307
    Yes, but it was not uncommon for them to carry over into badging, and on the '55 to '57 Chevy's there was no other identifiers for the base and mid-range models.
  • OK, I am rebuilding a 1953 Bel Air. I want to put a CD player in it, and I swear that I have seen these before. It is a flip down face that looks like the old original AM/FM radio with dummy knobs. I have had this confirmed by about 6 people that they exist. BUT, nobody can tell me where to find them. Has anyone ever heard of or seen these, and if so where the heck can I find one? Thanks for the info
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Well, first of all there was never an "original" AM/FM radio in those. FM wasn't an option until 1963 or 1964.

    Then you would have to convert to 12 volt and your Chevy wouldn't be original anymore.

    And, I've never heard of such a thing. Usually people just hide the non original unit under the seat or in the glove box.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I think I've seen ads for modern AM-FM radios that look old in Hemmings, in the color ads at the beginning
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    usually in something like a '57 Chevy. I have no idea where to get them, though. Back when I used to drive my '67 Catalina convertible more frequently, if I wanted tunes I just brought a boom box with me! :)
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    I kept the original Sonomatic AM radio with the cool B-U-I-C-K lettering across the selector buttons in my 1968 Special Deluxe, but had a modern unit with a tape deck hidden under the dashboard.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    link title

    Looks like nice work, but a little expensive?
This discussion has been closed.