"We’ve been sleeper fans since the concept came into being, and we still are. So, when this pristine 1968 Chevy Bel Air came into our possession recently, it wasn’t a matter of what to do with it, but merely a question of how to go about it." In the January 2022 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines, writer Chuck Hanson explained how the Hemmings team dropped a fully-built 454ci big block into their '68 Bel Air. More recently, in the upcoming March 2023 issue, Hanson showed how the team made the car even more fun to drive by preparing to swap in a manual transmission.
"Pedals to the Metal" in the '68 Bel Air
Hanson wrote, "In less than hour, we’d extracted the pedals and linkage from the decaying carcass. It was, amazingly, all in fairly decent condition; with a bit of refurbishment it would all function as intended. However, everything was rusty from years of exposure to the elements, so we decided to disassemble the pedals and linkage and restore the components."
Above: The original pedals and shift linkage had a lot of surface rust that needed to be cleaned off before the Hemmings team installed these parts in their Bel Air.
After soaking these parts in a rust-removing chemical overnight, Hanson rinsed the parts and dried them off with compressed air. Next, all the bare metal components were refinished in original-style finishes, and then topped with a semi-gloss urethane final coat to prevent corrosion in the future.
Since the original pedal pads and rubber firewall boot were too deteriorated to reuse, the Hemmings team reached out to Classic Industries for original-style replacements. We were happy to assist them with this final touch for their Bel Air pedal and clutch linkage restoration.
If you'd like to read the full article detailing all the steps of the clutch linkage and pedal restoration/swap on this '68 Bel Air, pick up a copy of the March 2023 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines on newsstands or online. We're looking forward to the next parts of this series, where Hanson and the rest of the team will sort out the bellhousing, clutch, and flywheel to continue this automatic to manual transmission swap.
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