CHEVROLET BEL AIR IN HAVANA
HAVANA CUSTOMS 1956 CHEVROLET BEL AIR REBUILD
This 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air is in original condition, and is a great example of a low mileage classic Chevrolet in Cuba. We just refreshed the engine, and most parts showed very little wear. It has an inline 235 cubic inch six-cylinder engine which was partially rebuilt with new standard size pistons as well as standard camshaft bearings. The top of the block was polished, and a few valves were replaced. The water pump was rebuilt, and the original bearings replaced with ones from a Russian Lada, something which is common Cuba, where original GM parts are non-existent, and Russian spare parts are easy to find. We installed a modified electronic distributor, which greatly improved cold starts and acceleration. The original Rochester carburetor was freshened-up with help from the guys at Havanacustoms.com who brought us a rebuild kit.
This ’56 Bel Air had some body work done about fifteen years ago, but most of the sheet metal is original. The body work consisted of replacing metal in the typical places like wheel wells, inside fenders, and rocker panels. The area around the headlight buckets was also repaired, and the buckets replaced with “made in Cuba” buckets. A frame-off paint job followed which allowed us to replace all the chassis mounts and motor mounts, and then sand the chassis and paint it. The Bel Air then received a fresh coat of gray paint.
This Bel Air is not typical of American classics in Cuba, most of these cars have had their engines replaced by either Russian Volga gasoline engines, or more modern Korean or German diesel engines. While cars with original engines are rare, rarer still are cars with original carburetors and transmissions like this one. Stay tuned for more rebuild stories from Cuba!
By Jose Fernandez