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The Ultimate '55 Chevy 4-to-2 door Conversion!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by So-cal Tex, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. So-cal Tex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,125

    So-cal Tex

    I know CSU55 covered this indepth, however this is the factory correct way to convert a Tri-5 chevy from a Granny 4 door to a 2 gear slamming 2 door.

    Most people don't know but 2-door post cars ( sedans) share the roof and most of rear quarter with a 4-door version, which makes this a pretty straight forward conversion.

    I purchased this 4-door about 2 years with the intention of stuffing a 350/350 in it and sell it. I learned a tough lesson that nobody wants to pay anything, like near nothing for decent running driving mechanically sound 4-door '55. So after much research and lamenting over the amount of work it would take to do it I said FUCK IT!! I can do this!!

    So a little help from Squablo on some '55 2 door doors and two really rusty, read WISCONSIN rust, rear quarters and B-pillar. I got the parts last spring and I waiting until Christmas break to start. I may be an idiot but I know my limits so when it came to the fitting of panels I enlisted a close friend and metal master, Mark Hopkins and E-Street Hot Rods (303)-646-2262.

    We basically gutted the car and found out that it needed more than just a floor, inner and outer rockers were marginal, trunk pan had some issues, several floor braces needed replacemant so we ordered all new steel.

    We then braced the roof with some tubes and cut away the rockers, floor and trunk pan so it could go to the blasters. We did not want to burry and rusty metal so we wanted the area of surgery to be solid steel and clean.

    We also discoved that the rockers cannot be replaced until the front fenders were removed. That is why in most pictures you see it without the front fenders.

    To do this you need to start with rockers first and get the car square. Then we hung the 2-door doors and checked the alignment with the door top and front clip which told us where to cut in the rear quarters. Remember these '55 rear quarters were only good above the belt line and we had add lower front quarter patches and some inner structure.

    In the end we had a a factory correct 2-door '55 chevy that is want I really wanted. The down side is this alot of work, probably 80 feet of welding and grinding!!

    In retrospect I would done this with a better 4-door start. Mine was border line, but it was what I had. You can find really solid 4-doors out there cheap and that would be the best start for a project like this.

    Here are some pictures of the car with side trim and new wheels and tires. I did not use ANY BONDO, what you see is the metal work, so it is not perfect.

    I am shooting for that early '60 gas class car that is mostly stock street car that a guy would bolt on the pie crust slicks and run on the weekends.

    Cody at Hurst racing tires hooked me up with the perfect set of pie crust cheater slicks for the rear that fit perfectly.

    I ordered some enamel Chasmere blue in spray bomb to try and match the patina. I still need to do some more work on it , but it looks pretty good for now. I need to get my front seat upolstered and put the glass in the car.

    I have the max pictures allowed on this thread so look for them on the last page.I have until the HAMB drags to finish it, so I take a weeekend off now.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  2. cool, how long has it taken you?
  3. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 11,605


    Fucking awesome. That looks really good. I think the '55 looks better as a 2 door sedan than the 56 or 57 does. The conversion makes the difference between a $2K car and a $10K car.

    I know it was a while ago already but I'm still really sorry about how long it took me to get you those parts. I never thought it'd get delayed for so long.

    Not that it matters, but just so you know, the doors are from a '56, and the quarters came from Missouri, although with the rust on them you'd think they were from Wisconsin.

    I've read through CSU's tech and I've seen yours, and I've also seen one done using the whole roof from a 2 door sedan. So let me ask you a question. Do you think swapping the whole roof from a 2 door sedan would make this easier/less welding, assuming you had it availible, or would you cut them the same way you did here? Because for my '57 I have a '56 2 door sedan donor and the roof is very nice. The roof is good on my '57 too, but I thought it might save welding and fitting to swap the whole roof over with door pillars and window surrounds in place. Got any input for me? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

    Also, if you had some close-up pictures of where you put your weld seams on the inside and outside of the tops of the rear quarter windows, I'd like to see them. I've seen this done like CSU did leaving the rear pillar intact, and the way you did keeping the quarter windows in one piece, and from the looks of it I like the way you did it but I'm wondering if it's easier or more difficult to do it that way.

    Again, looks really awesome, so glad this stuff worked out for you. Are you planning to finish and keep the car now, or just get it in primer and sell it? I would think it'd be tough to part with now that it's all put together as a 2 door.
  4. That's a hell of a lot more work than I would tackle! But it looks like it paid off. Sweet ride.
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  5. So-cal Tex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,125

    So-cal Tex


    I think it would be easier to cut it through the quarters versus removing the entire roof. The majority of welding I did was inside floor pans and trunk pan and inner fender wells. Basically we laid the 2-door quarters over the 4- door quarters and used the same trim hole on each one to align them. Like I mentioned above this conversion is basically factory correct and you can use the roll up rear windows and everything just like a 2-door.

    The weld seams on the quarter windows are on the inside ( see inside pics) and I am just going to seam seal the outer edge. It is super solid this way and really no need to weld around the outside quarter window frames.

    I would however make sure I started with a very solid 4-door because the pans and rockers are the same which would have saved alot of time.

    The plan is to prime and match the Patina and best possible, throw the trim on it and drive it to the HAMB drags at MOKAN. I most likely keep the car now that it turned out so nice.
  6. Lucky667
    Joined: Dec 3, 2008
    Posts: 2,226

    from TX

    Great job. Your hard work paid off.

  7. RAG66
    Joined: Jun 1, 2008
    Posts: 160


    NICE WORK, 55 2dr is one of my favorite cars of all. Must be the highschool conection. I do know where mine is but the guy wants BIG,HUGE, $$$$ to part with it. Maybe some day???
  8. Rooney00
    Joined: Dec 2, 2006
    Posts: 312


  9. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 11,605


    I have so many questions for you. The metalwork on the car looks top notch. The cut line where the roof joins the new rear window opening, is it below or above the drip rail? That's the joint that concerns me the most, I'm not sure where it should go. I can't even see where the weld is on your car, it's very clean. You completely cut away the rear pillar on each side, correct?

    Also wanted to make sure you got the interior window garnishes and the glass pieces I sent along, and that you have all the window regulators you need.

    I'm attatching pictures of the full-roof swap conversion I was referring to. (not my car, not my pics, just something I found on the 'net) Do you think that is more work than how you did it? I'm starting to think your way is going to be easier since the full roof section is going to be a bastard to move around and align. Your method would let me do each side independently. Can I ask how many hours you think this took, not including the floor pan/rocker panel stuff, just the conversion portion?

    Attached Files:

  10. 53chieftian
    Joined: Aug 13, 2005
    Posts: 611


    The only downfall i see to this type of conversion is .......... at the end of the day the title still says four door sedan! I realise you did a pile of work or spent a pile of money but i'm sorry that wont make a guy like me pay 2 dr price for it! Just my 2 cents! After the body work is done no one will know, but deep down, even though it looks like a good job, it's still a four door at heart!
  11. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 15,424

    from California

    in my brain I'd like to build a 55 wagon. a "two door" on the drivers side, and a "four door" on the passenger side. they should have built one like that.
  12. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 15,424

    from California

    I see no need to remove the roof.

    I sure the heck wouldn't remove the roof and all 4 doors from a car without serious bracing.
  13. Ricks57
    Joined: Feb 11, 2006
    Posts: 76

    from San Diego

    When you get ready to install the windows let me know, I have a service manual. There's a bunch of parts in there.
  14. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 15,424

    from California


    I like this one^^^^. get some shiney hubcaps at the next swap and yer good.
    Joined: May 13, 2002
    Posts: 3,258


    Photoshop? Guys in slacks don't do grinding.. :)

    building a ringer huh? (secret dirt drags)
  16. I've been saving a real shitty '55 2-door hardtop for a donor for someone to do one of these conversions. You'd have to change the entire roof with the entire C-posts and upper quarters to do it, but all the pieces are there.

    I kind of think I'll end up doing it myself before anyone else goes to the trouble, though.
  17. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 15,424

    from California

    oooh.. 4 door to hardtop sounds like a bunch of work. you would need about 3/4's of a good hardtop to build one. I'm getting too old for that one. I have ground so much metal that my washing machine got clogged with rusty clumps of metal and flooded the place. luckily I was here to stop it before it ran a full cycle on the floor.

    if you do it please post pics.
  18. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 11,605


    Aren't the frames different on the hardtops somehow too? For a hardtop conversion I think it'd be best to do the frame reinforcements first, then do the cutting, the way a hardtop/convertible conversion is done. That's the way I did my O/T GTO convertible conversion using a '69 Skylark donor.

    I've been wondering how much harder it'd be to go from 4 door to 2 door hardtop, and I'm starting to think it wouldn't be that tough. I've got the stuff do to my '57 Chev as a 2 door post, so I won't be trying it there, but at some point in the future I want to go 4 door post to 2 door hardtop.

    I'm thinking a cheapie rusty '59 Plymouth or Dodge 2 door hardtop would make a good donor into a '58 Plymouth 4 door sedan, probably the only way I'll ever be able to afford one of those.

    As for the argument "its still a 4 door underneath" I think that's straight up bullshit. Once this is done, it's identical to the factory built 2 doors. You'd put a V8 in a 6 cylinder car, you'd chop a top on a tall roofed car, but this is somehow taboo? And fuck the title. No piece of government issued paper is going to stop me from building a car the way I want it. (besides, my title just says 1957 Chevrolet Auto and in the blank for bodystyle it says "unknown". That's how I like it)
    Joined: Mar 1, 2007
    Posts: 971

    from UP NORTH

    Nice work....I run into alot of good 4drs.....The little old ladies keep em nice and well cared for....John
  20. Everyone says other than convertible 55-57 frames are all the same. Well, they change a little each year, but there's no difference between wagon, hardtop, etc. -

    I think on Chevytalk there's an old thread where a guy turned his '56 2-door sedan into a hardtop by swapping the roof out. I remember he did just what I described, used the top 1/3 of the quarters, package tray, C-posts and roof all in one big piece.

    I know of a guy in New Jersey who's done several of those 58 Plymouth hardtop conversions, I sold him some ratty quarters and doors to use on one a couple years ago from the '57 hardtop I couldn't give away.
  21. Pir8Darryl
    Joined: Jan 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,492


    I'd like to offer that it would probably be a good idea to keep a photo journal of the conversion in the car at all times whle your driving it.

    The title says 4 door, but it's obviously a 2 door....

    All it takes is one prick police officer to ruin your whole weekend!
  22. willie57
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 378

    from wisconsin

    very nice job.

  23. Very good point!
  24. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 6,062


    Down here in Louisiana, this is NOT a problem.
    All we do is go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and tell them there is a typographical error on the title.
  25. Pir8Darryl
    Joined: Jan 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,492


    LOL... So then how do you explain the VIN showing it as a 4 door? :rolleyes:
  26. senior fried
    Joined: Jul 17, 2007
    Posts: 1,033

    senior fried

    Manyolcars =The voice of reason, It works in most states, try it !
  27. CLSSY56
    Joined: Dec 19, 2002
    Posts: 1,219


    At the end of the day, it's still a 4 door. I hate to see someone screw up a descent 4 door. I can't why you think anyone would want a converted 4 door over a real 2 door or even a 4 door, you can never really call it a 2 door if you sell it. I myself wouldn't touch one.
  28. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 2,663

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    How about converting a 56 4 dr. hardtop into a 55 4 dr hardtop?
    55's were only offered in 4 dr sedans. The 56 was the first 4 dr hardtop.

    You'd need to hang 55 quarters and 55 front clip on a 56 4 dr hardtop body shell. To really shake up the troops, do it 100% restoration with 55 side and deck trim, dash, seat material, etc.
  29. Mojo
    Joined: Jul 23, 2002
    Posts: 1,747


    I'd like to see a 4dr hardtop converted to a 2dr. The 4dr HT's had a great roofline. Lots of custom work there though.
  30. Django
    Joined: Nov 15, 2002
    Posts: 10,194


    That's pretty bitchin. How are you going to match the paint/patina though?

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