Brian's 1954 Chevy Belair Project

Brian Breedlove purchased his Dad's 54 Chevy Belair and inherited his love for cars. As he tells it: "My dad bought this car in 1961 while he was in the Navy in Calif. He sold it to me just last year (bargain price). I wasn't born until 1966 so he had the car longer than me. I don't think he still considers it mine though. He always says "how's things going with my Chevy." I've got 3 kids too and he always asks about the car first!

1961     1971

Here's what it looked like in 1961 and in 1971

clean dad..

Now you know where the sign "Don't even think about touching the car unless your nude!" comes from. (Actually, Brian's dad Don is wearing shoes and socks...). It was in the early 60s and in California so its okay! Don's latest ride is a 37 Dodge pickup.

What makes Brian's 54 Chev special is that he put a 1980 Vette Front and Rear in it. Here's his story:

The pictures titled "before" were taken just before I disassembled the front end. The car was already in the air but if you've seen the stance of one stock 54 Chevy, then you've seen them all. They basically drag the rear bumper.

Just before using the ax!

For the front, I cut the Bel-air frame off at the fire wall and attached the Vette Front Clip and naturally, the frames didn't match. Everyone told me it wasn't possible to put the vette front end in this car. I measured from the center of the front wheel to the fire wall on the vette and then from the center of the wheel to the fire wall on the 54 and there was about 28" difference. The engine seats way behind the center on the vette and above the center on the 54. I realized that I had so much hood space that I could move the engine on the vette frame up and above center to make up the difference and still clear the steering rods on the vette front with the oil pan.

front frame

Vette frame welded to 54 frame at the firewall

detail

Vette to 54 Chev frame details

I cut the frame off right at the steering box on the vette. This came right up to the fire wall on my 54. Since I wanted the stock look inside, I cut off the steering column and put a bearing in the pipe. Then I supported the column under the dash and tied it into the vette box with some scrap steering column u-joints and shafts. Once it was all welded out, I re-attached the fenders and installed the original frame stubs off the 54 front end. If you ever do this yourself, be sure to always go by the frame measurements and not the body. Since my car had never been wrecked, they both matched - fortunately. Also be sure to level the frame when performing your fit up. See attached drawing of my frame weld.

I have the original steering column and wheel installed. It looks totally stock if you look inside. The 54 has been garage kept since 1961 and there isn't a single tear, scratch, or stain in the interior.

interior

Dash and interior picture

headliner

Headliner is in perfect shape!

For the rear, I took a real easy approach. I cleaned off the old suspension brackets on the 54 and took a piece of card board and drew a profile of the bottom rear frame. After that , I drew the profile on the side of the vette frame at the lowest point possible to avoid having to fabricate brackets - plus I didn't want to take a chance on losing the factory set up by adapting to the 54 frame with brackets. Then I tacked the vette frame with rear end installed to the bottom of the 54 frame, dropped it on the ground and took a look. The stance looked great, so I boxed it in and seal welded.

rearend

Vette rearend welded to 54 Chev frame

My front bumper is about 8" off the ground and the rear bumper is about 12" off the ground. The performance improvement is unbelievable. I'm also running the vette 350 and a borg warner super T-10 4 speed.

I picked it (80 Vette) up for $1200.00 and the engine looked and sounded brand new. I'm not sure what year the rear end is because it had been replaced on the vette from a later model. It's all aluminum. It was totally stock before but the engine was a 305C.I.D. with the borg warner tranny. The trans is the only thing I kept. I really wish I had a 6 speed. I have 10" of rubber all the way around right now (stock vette wheels) but I'm going change the front sizes when I buy new wheels and tires. The tail lights were frenched many years ago. They have lead in them.

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Copyright April, 2011 Eugene Blanchard