’50 Chevy “Bella” Build

Click Here to Begin Though the name means “beauty,” Bella started out its build as a bit long in the tooth. Though totally original from the firewall back, the subframe had been replaced with a nasty S-10 item. The patina was striking and the hood had been primered, so the necessary ingredients were there. All that was needed was a massive engine capable of roasting tires and a modern frame to support all that grunt. But Bella had to be beautiful. The aged front end was in need of a little glitz, and a trip to the junkyard followed shortly thereafter. After finding a ‘54 Buick with a wide, solid, chrome bumper, Irwin and his father-in-law peeled the piece off of the old car in five minutes flat, and managed to mock it up on the front of the Chevy - though it was a little too wide. Most importantly, the frame was a bit too ragged, cracked, and rusted, so an ‘83 Caprice was picked up and chopped, and the frame and engine pulled. Though the engine was advertised as not running, it sputtered to life once an errant spring was removed from the inside of the fuel filter and flow restarted. After eyeballing the Caprice frame and the ‘50 Chevy’s body, Irwin supposed that the two would match up along the firewall. After chopping those firewalls out, it matched up almost perfectly! What luck! The rear fenders of the ‘50 Chevy were clearly rounder, while the Caprice’s were squared. Nevertheless, Irwin made it work with a prodigious help of hammer. Only the trunk pan needed to be altered to fit within the ‘50's body, but that’s where the mallet and a can of Red Bull came in. Once the body was dropped to cover the frame, it didn’t look half-bad! However, it became evident that the Caprice’s motor was cracked, so a 305 from a ‘50 Bel-Air was picked up and fitted in the engine bay. Second time’s the charm, right? With a steering column from a Fiero and the power steering fluid topped off, the old Chevy fired up and drove around the block without issue. However, a popping in the intake led to an inspection, revealing that the motor was clearly soiled internally from not having the oil changed in an eon. A new intake was sourced, but it was no use - the exhaust lobe on the cam was shot. With shrugged shoulders but seemingly no less energy or enthusiasm, Irwin set off to find a suitable replacement. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard - a 327 was lurking in the garage - though the rear tires were slightly worried about their relationship with the new powerplant. Third time’s the charm, it seems, since all that was needed was a new water pump gasket to get the motor churning. After painting the motor black, it was fitted with a new set of aluminum roller rockers, then some $40 (what a bargain!) Hedman headers and the engraved intake and M/T cam covers. Now the engine bay was a much prettier place. The Caprice’s seats and a tall Mr. Gasket 3-speed shifter from eBay - another $30 find - decorate the floor of the car, and a modern radiator was added. With the car in running order, some safety measures were taken in the form of large LED taillights. The final touch was mounting that ‘54 Buick bumper. After trimming and finding a way to mount the bumper, the front end had the gleaming smile this comprehensive, occasionally frustrating, and beautiful build deserved.

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build

Click Here to Begin

Though the name means “beauty,” Bella started out its build as a bit long in the tooth. Though totally original from the firewall back, the subframe had been replaced with a nasty S-10 item. The patina was striking and the hood had been primered, so the necessary ingredients were there. All that was needed was a massive engine capable of roasting tires and a modern frame to support all that grunt.

But Bella had to be beautiful. The aged front end was in need of a little glitz, and a trip to the junkyard followed shortly thereafter. After finding a ‘54 Buick with a wide, solid, chrome bumper, Irwin and his father-in-law peeled the piece off of the old car in five minutes flat, and managed to mock it up on the front of the Chevy - though it was a little too wide.

Most importantly, the frame was a bit too ragged, cracked, and rusted, so an ‘83 Caprice was picked up and chopped, and the frame and engine pulled. Though the engine was advertised as not running, it sputtered to life once an errant spring was removed from the inside of the fuel filter and flow restarted.

After eyeballing the Caprice frame and the ‘50 Chevy’s body, Irwin supposed that the two would match up along the firewall. After chopping those firewalls out, it matched up almost perfectly! What luck! The rear fenders of the ‘50 Chevy were clearly rounder, while the Caprice’s were squared. Nevertheless, Irwin made it work with a prodigious help of hammer.

Only the trunk pan needed to be altered to fit within the ‘50's body, but that’s where the mallet and a can of Red Bull came in. Once the body was dropped to cover the frame, it didn’t look half-bad! However, it became evident that the Caprice’s motor was cracked, so a 305 from a ‘50 Bel-Air was picked up and fitted in the engine bay. Second time’s the charm, right?

With a steering column from a Fiero and the power steering fluid topped off, the old Chevy fired up and drove around the block without issue. However, a popping in the intake led to an inspection, revealing that the motor was clearly soiled internally from not having the oil changed in an eon. A new intake was sourced, but it was no use - the exhaust lobe on the cam was shot. With shrugged shoulders but seemingly no less energy or enthusiasm, Irwin set off to find a suitable replacement.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard - a 327 was lurking in the garage - though the rear tires were slightly worried about their relationship with the new powerplant. Third time’s the charm, it seems, since all that was needed was a new water pump gasket to get the motor churning. After painting the motor black, it was fitted with a new set of aluminum roller rockers, then some $40 (what a bargain!) Hedman headers and the engraved intake and M/T cam covers. Now the engine bay was a much prettier place.

The Caprice’s seats and a tall Mr. Gasket 3-speed shifter from eBay - another $30 find - decorate the floor of the car, and a modern radiator was added. With the car in running order, some safety measures were taken in the form of large LED taillights.

The final touch was mounting that ‘54 Buick bumper. After trimming and finding a way to mount the bumper, the front end had the gleaming smile this comprehensive, occasionally frustrating, and beautiful build deserved.

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 1

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 2

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 3

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 4

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 5

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 6

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 7

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 8

'50 Chevy "Bella" Build 9

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About Tommy Parry 102 Articles
Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, Tommy worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school and tried his hand on the race track on his twentieth birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, he began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a trackday instructor and automotive writer since 2012 and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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