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Username Post: Daily driver in the UK        (Topic#359807)
Posts: 4

Reg: 02-13-20
02-14-20 01:59 AM - Post#2786465    

Hello all,

This'll be my first post on here so a tad nervous.
So as the subject suggests, I want a daily driver and I reside in the UK, but this is sort of only part of the story. I'll try not to bore you all to death but a little back-story to help get my idea please bear with me.

I am fed up of today's cars. They're overcomplicated, expensive to maintain and are to my mind, really rather unreliable, especially where electronics are concerned. I own a 2004 BMW 5 series, and while the straight 6 diesel is a nice drive and the car is both comfy and handles well, the various electrical niggles it has would cost me more to repair than the car is worth. And there's a witch hunt on over here regarding diesels...

So my thoughts have turned to what I'd replace her with when the time comes. It's getting on a bit now, but I really don't want another modern car. I've come to the conclusion that an old car - it at least, older technology - dressed up in a simple body with no fancy electrics is the way to go. Couple this with my massive adoration of all classic American cars (best looking and sounding cars ever made to my mind), and well, here I am.

I've sort of settled on a pre '54 Bel Air as the car (I love the almost art-deco shape) mostly because I think it's stunning but also because searches seem to show it to be a fairly common car. Please do correct me here if I am wrong.
The idea would be to get hold of a relatively rust-free car, give it a good coat of paint and perhaps do whatever is feasible to limit future corrosion. Then to sling a crate 350 into it as I am led to believe it is a very reliable motor that is both easy to work on and cheap on parts. Then it's just a matter of making good the wiring, tidying the interior, making sure I've got a working heater in it for the winter, and putting in a rear bench seat from a more modern car so that I have Isofix points in there for my daughter's car seat. It sounds simple but I know it won't be.

Now I'm just a factory worker so don't earn loads. I know a sizeable personal loan will be required but beyond that I haven't a clue how much I am looking at. I'm sorry, I know that's a 'how long is a piece of string' question but I'm sure there are some of you on here that have done similar builds.

I suppose the main two questions are: am I out of my mind wanting something like this as a daily driver?
And the other is, if I'm not, then do I buy a car from the states and ship it to the UK to do the work, or should I be thinking of finding a reliable, trustworthy garage over there to do the work before bringing it to the UK?

I'd have thought it would make sense to do it in the US first - tis the home of Chevy after all, and surely there aren't any garages or individuals here in the UK that'll know more about a Chevy build than you guys. Also, I'm guessing parts will be cheaper and easier to source - I think the worry is how can I be sure of not getting taken for a ride when I'm all the way over in the UK?
There is a car garage literally round the corner from me who regularly sells and imports US classics, but before picking them as the option I thought it sensible to put the feelers out on here first - see what you guys think.
I did suggest a no doubt very optimistic budget of £20k to the aforementioned garage and they said while tight, it ought to be do-able.

Tell me what you guys think.

And please, if you've any suggestions on this little conundrum i.e. better ways of doing it, more sensible cars to choose or whatever, I'm all ears.

I know next to nothing about this sort of thing (obviously 😂), but I do know that I love American V8's, and I love the late 40's/early 50's cars you guys made. And I am utterly convinced that as a long-term mode of transport, this is the way to go. Yes, fuel will cost more but itll be more reliable (I hope), easier to repair/maintain, nicer to own, and could even be something I pass down to my daughter one day. It's as much about the feeling of owning one as it is the potential practicalities.

Fire away!


"19th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 19121
Age: 86
Loc: Montana
Reg: 03-12-02
02-14-20 06:21 AM - Post#2786472    
    In response to MostlyUseless

Can not help you with what to buy but it does sound as if a 1950 through 52 BelAir is what you are looking for as the 53 is a different body style. For help and information you have come to the right place. The only bad question would be one that is not asked. I was around and working in a 76 Station when the 50 el Air came on the market it has always been a favorite.



Edited by 2blu52 on 02-14-20 11:04 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

"11th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 2110
Age: 69
Loc: south texas
Reg: 08-04-12
02-14-20 06:21 AM - Post#2786473    
    In response to MostlyUseless

If I might offer a little suggestion based on experience?

Look for a car that has been sitting in someone's garage/shop, and is almost complete.

The country is loaded with project cars that have either run out of cash, out of steam, family challenges, etc. They usually are sold for a fraction of a completed project. The owners all have a sad story to tell about why they have stopped working on their cars.
I can tell you that most people enjoy working on their cars, but the real joy comes from driving something unusual, and semi-complete.

The key operative word here is "DRIVEABLE".

It just becomes another job. A job that you have to do AFTER you get off the job that pays the bills.

Don't get me wrong, I love working on my cars, but the household upkeep, and family, and just life takes priority after a while.

So, look for a car that is mostly complete, a driver, and rust free.

My humble two cents.


if you're gonna be a bear..................

1960 Biscayne (the 6T)
2005 Yukon XL
2007 GMC Sierra Classic 8.1
2009 Silverado
2011 Escalade ESV

"4th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 5539
Loc: Yakima, WA. USA
Reg: 12-28-02
02-14-20 07:36 AM - Post#2786481    
    In response to MostlyUseless

If I went to the correct conversion web sight, £20k = about $26,000 USD. You might consider looking for one that someone has done most of the "heavy lifting" on [new drive train and most of the body work], buy that, and have it shipped. Not really sure how much shipping costs are and how much that would eat into your budget. I had a 1980 Mustang [gutless car] shipped back from Germany when I was in the Army, but that was all on the taxpayer's dime.

1951 Fleetline Preservation
'51 Fleetline DeLuxe 2 DOOR SEDAN (Fathom Green)
'51 Styleline Special BUSINESS COUPE (Shadow Gray)
'53 6500 Dump Bed (Oxidized Red)
'50 Styleline DeLuxe 4 DOOR SEDAN (Mist Green)

Posts: 4

Reg: 02-13-20
02-14-20 07:45 AM - Post#2786482    
    In response to RAM_51

Thanks guys,

Hugely appreciate the responses and subsequent advice. All very sound.

I hear your wisdom - mostly completed project does sound the way forward, especially as I'm not necessarily asking for anything unusual. V8 conversions are commonplace and that alone would get me halfway there.

I'm also quite pleased that no mention of it being used as a daily is outlandish!! 😁 I tend to get looked at like I'm on hard drugs whenever I talk to anyone over here about it. The wife is partially convinced, although the fact that she also finds the early bel air an attractive car certainly helps.

Thankfully, the garage I mentioned earlier does import and it's not too expensive.

Griff: I hear you loud and clear, sir. Thank you. Driveable is exactly what I'm after. Sure, I don't want it looking tatty but equally I have no interest in a delicate show car that I'll be too scared to park in public. You are of course right regarding it becoming a second job...I'd like to avoid too much of it if I can but I think I'd find carrying out some of the work myself more pleasurable than taking it to get plugged in to a computer at the main dealership and then parting with entirely too much money afterwards. It really is deflating, especially when they're meant to be 'more reliable'.

Edited by MostlyUseless on 02-14-20 07:49 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

55 Shaker 
Posts: 1522

Age: 70
Loc: north central IL.
Reg: 03-13-06
02-14-20 07:52 AM - Post#2786483    
    In response to MostlyUseless

I would suggest a 1955 or newer, that way putting in a 350 would just be a bolt in deal.

The older I get, the more dangerous, I am !!!!

"16th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 14178
Loc: L.A, Cal. & St. Louis...
Reg: 04-07-03
02-14-20 09:23 AM - Post#2786487    
    In response to 55 Shaker

I have a suggestion. When you find a car, ask here if someone from CT is close to it and can go check it out. Reason being, anyone who sells a car to be transported to the U.K., (England?) will know there is practically zero chance of the buyer filing a lawsuit in case of a problem. So buying a car that has not been misrepresented is important.

1953 210 Convertible, 261 with dual Carter YF 966S carbs, P.S., Remote Bendix P.B. Booster... shade-tree restoration about done.

Posts: 4

Reg: 02-13-20
02-14-20 10:02 AM - Post#2786490    
    In response to rrausch

A wonderful suggestion! That would certainly be one of my greatest concerns.

On a side note, are there any suggestions on good websites to peruse in my search? I've found a handful of near-complete cats on classic autotrader but if you can suggest others, that'd be splendid.

Posts: 19

Loc: West Sussex, England
Reg: 10-10-16
02-15-20 05:50 AM - Post#2786558    
    In response to MostlyUseless

Hi,I’m also from the UK , have you ever looked at the Rods n Sods forum over here as there’s a guy who goes on there who’s called Ray and he’s a Brit who now lives in California and runs a company called Rays classics, I’ve never met or spoken to him but he gets some nice cars and he does the shipping in the price and I’ve never seen any bad comments about him.

"16th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 14178
Loc: L.A, Cal. & St. Louis...
Reg: 04-07-03
02-15-20 07:29 AM - Post#2786569    
    In response to steveknight

Ray's website:
Ray's Classic Cars

1953 210 Convertible, 261 with dual Carter YF 966S carbs, P.S., Remote Bendix P.B. Booster... shade-tree restoration about done.

Rob Daniels 
Posts: 135
Rob Daniels
Loc: England UK
Reg: 04-22-12
02-20-20 11:54 AM - Post#2786936    
    In response to rrausch

Just be aware of the UK laws on registering a non original car. Might be worth while asking the guys on my UK based 49-54 Chevy Cars Facebook page. I'm also in the UK.


53 Bel Air Sport Coupe'


Click for photo's of my 53

My UK 49-54 FB page


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