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53 Chevy Bel Aire motor size?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bonechip67, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. bonechip67
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 82

    bonechip67
    Member

    Hope I got the right forum this time... Anyway, I just pruchased a 53 BelAire 4 door that needs a little work. I was wondering how can I tell wether it has a 216 or a 235 engine? It does have the 3 on the tree trans if that matters. Any and all help would be greatly appricated! Thanks
     
  2. chrisbob12
    Joined: Oct 18, 2007
    Posts: 311

    chrisbob12
    Member

    216 CI - 1954 had a 235 CI 1953 was a poured bearing and the 235 was a inserted bearing. If your valve cover bolts through the top it's a 216. If it bolts around the lip it's a 235.
    Bob.
     
  3. Noland
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,237

    Noland
    Member

    I think it would be a 235. I believe 216 is earlier. I think you can tell by the valve/rocker cover. if it has center bolts its a 216, if the bolts are on the outside edge its a 235. I think you can also tell by the sidecover but I dont know. I type to slow chrisbob beat me to it
     
  4. thiefinthenight
    Joined: Sep 21, 2004
    Posts: 37

    thiefinthenight
    Member

    My understanding is that 1953 Bel Airs were 235s. Mine was but it had a power glide transmission.


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  5. bonechip67
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 82

    bonechip67
    Member

    It has the valve cover bolts thru the top.. 216 then?
     
  6. Spidercoupe
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 174

    Spidercoupe
    Member
    from Bevier, MO

    standard trans. 216 automatic trans. 235.
     
  7. R Pope
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 3,309

    R Pope
    Member

    1953 and 1954 were 235 only. You can tell a babbit pounder by the three-bolt cover down by the oil pan rail behind the exhaust pipe. The pressure lubed engines don't have this piece. The valve covers are the same on both engines. The 216 has a side cover that extends up around the spark plugs, the 235 cover ends at the top of the block.
    An easy way to tell which engine was originally installed is to look at the oil pressure gauge. 0-30 is a dipper, 0-60 is pressure lubed.
     
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,185

    squirrel
    Member

    If it has the original engine, it's a 235. Post the numbers on the block, pass side, the ones stamped by the distributor, and those cast near the starter (maybe hidden by the starter). Then we can tell you for sure what it is.

    The side cover will not cover the side of the head, if it's a 235. That's the real easy way to tell.
     
  9. bonechip67
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 82

    bonechip67
    Member

    Thanks guys. I will check when I get home tonight and see if I can find the #'s under all the dirt and grime :)
     
  10. Post a pic of the passenger side of the engine. We'll be able to tell you in a matter of seconds.
     
  11. waldo53
    Joined: Jan 26, 2010
    Posts: 838

    waldo53
    Member
    from ID

    All passenger car engines in 1953 were 235's. But, the stick shift engines were splash oilers, the powerglide engines were full pressure. Both had the 2-bolt valve covers.

    I would run the numbers (post them on here, we can help). The numbers that are stamped on the flat surface just to the rear of the distributor should tell us the story. Chances are someone over the last 50+ years has changed out the original for a replacement.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  12. hailey
    Joined: Dec 4, 2013
    Posts: 9

    hailey
    Member
    from Michigan

    1954 was the first year for insert bearings replacing the babbit bearings.
     
  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,185

    squirrel
    Member

    53 Powerglide equipped engines got inserts.....
     
  14. bonechip67
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 82

    bonechip67
    Member

    Didnt get a chance to scrap the motor to look for numbers yet, but the side cover stops before the spark plugs. I will see what I can do for numbers in the next week. Christmas with the family this weeked and its 2 degrees outside today!
     
  15. waldo53
    Joined: Jan 26, 2010
    Posts: 838

    waldo53
    Member
    from ID

    Short side cover = 235. Question is, which 235? It could be a '50 - '53 babbit pounder (splash oiled) or it could be a later full pressure 235. The numbers will tell the story!
     
  16. theburningbush
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 20

    theburningbush
    Member
    from Tacoma WA

    Most of these cars have had an engine swap at some point, so the best way to tell it's to use the casting numbers from the block (located by the distribute) and the head and google it alongside "Chevy casting numbers" and read down the lists and locate it... If you get lucky you might have ended up with a 53 or 54 with powerglide engine, which means you have hydraulic lifters... Best case it's a 54 with the large cam journals... But if it is original it wasn't uncommon for Chevy to put in "leftover" castings from the previous year...
     
  17. theburningbush
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 20

    theburningbush
    Member
    from Tacoma WA

    How does she run? I rebuilt a 54 235 with hydraulic and put it in my 53 and have been very happy. bored .08 over has plenty of power for freeway or puttering around...
     

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  18. bonechip67
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 82

    bonechip67
    Member

    Havent done much lately. Family has been in town and more coming. Need to rebuild the carb as the excerator pump is failing and need to drop the tank to flush. I will have to look for the casting #'s when I get a free minute.
     
  19. ZachB
    Joined: Sep 6, 2013
    Posts: 30

    ZachB
    Member

    Normally you are right but it's not uncommon to swap engines out. OP said standard so it would have had a 216 new. With people liking the feel of the standard but wanting more power it would not be surprised if at some point somebody placed a 235 wanting more power with the feel of more control.

    To the question 235 had the valve cover bolts on the side where the 216 had the through the center.
     
  20. HEATHEN
    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 7,592

    HEATHEN
    Member
    from SIDNEY, NY

    ALL 1950-53 235s used the same style two bolt valve cover as 216s. Also, the only way you could get a '53 passenger car with a 216 was to place a fleet order, such as taxi or rental agencies would do.
     
  21. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,689

    sunbeam
    Member

    If you get it running and it pegs out the 15 lb gauge it's a full pressure system. Also babbit motors had solid lifters.
     
  22. theburningbush
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 20

    theburningbush
    Member
    from Tacoma WA

    Note the picture of my 235 above, it's a full pressure with hydraulic lifters, and it has the two studs on the valve cover... the studs aren't necessarily a dead giveaway of a 216.
     

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