Marty Eisner's 1954 Chevy Convertible
(from Volume 27, Issue 326)

story by Marty Eisner, photos by Michael B. Kelly


My name is Marty Eisner, and I live in the The Villages, Florida. I am a life-long car lover, and built my first car at the age of 13, which was a 1932 Ford Roadster with an Oldsmobile engine. Since then I have rebuilt, modified and/or given the resto-mod treatment to over 40 cars. My mechanical engineering degree and my love for older cars has kept me still building at the age of 81. On several of my cars you may see artwork of Yosemite Sam, since I always liked his grit.

In 1954 Chevrolet built what I think is one of the most stylish cars ever. I always wanted to own one. The opportunity came about 18 months ago to purchase a 1954 Chevy Bel Air convertible that was all apart and missing several components needed to reassemble the car. It needed some floor pans, one fender, one door, and several pieces of trim. Plus there were three spots on the body that needed metal replaced. With the help of my friend James Reigada, who is an excellent body prep man and painter, we started the project. We repaired all the imperfections on the body and then put it on a rotisserie for preparing the bottom for paint as well.

I decided to use the existing frame and modify it to utilize a Mustang II front end and a four-link rear suspension with a GM rear end. We then installed the LS3 Chevrolet engine and the electronic 6-speed automatic transmission, plus fabricated a new driveshaft. The engine got a few upgrades such as a camshaft by Howards Cams, a Deepmotor fabricated aluminum intake with a 102mm throttle body, and custom built headers. With the engine and transmission in place we had to modify the existing firewall to accommodate them and still give proper clearance for the Cold Case radiator, and the existing floorboards needed to be altered for clearance of the transmission. With all the fabrication to the frame done, we sent the frame and all the necessary components to the powder coater. I was not fond of the original dahboard, so I replaced it with a 1960 Chevy Impala dash which was modified to fit, and utilizes Dakota Digital white faced gauges. I also sent out all of the stainless and chrome parts to be redone, so they would shine like new.

It was now time to pick a color that would stand out as a resto-mod, and James Reigada and I decided to custom blend a color that we have used before. The color is a four stage Lamborghini Tangerine, laid over white base primer. Now it was time to paint the under body, which was also painted Tangerine but without the pearl that the outer body has mixed in. James did an excellent paint job with an extremely hard color to paint, and with the chrome Foose rims it really makes the exterior “pop”.

With the car painted now came the task of assembly. I wanted to complete every task of building the car before it went in for an interior. So I also installed an Ididit column topped off with a custom steering wheel, four wheel power disc brakes, plus Vintage Air to keep the occupants cool when the Florida heat rises. At the interior shop I met with Wally, the owner of L&S Auto Trim in Gainesville, Florida. Together we picked a material and color. L&S made four samples for me to choose from, and since the material I ultimately picked was not a shelf item it took several weeks to get. Once L&S Auto Trim had everything they needed, they gave me a start date and a completion date. There is a custom console that runs the full length of the interior, and they also installed a very sophisticated touch screen radio with extremely good speakers, plus the convertible top. They did a great job, and completed it on time.

Though I have other show cars I can bring out, I have now been having fun going to various car shows and cruise-ins with my ‘54 Chevy Bel Air convertible. I enjoy this time of year when top down cruising is so comfortable and enjoyable. Over the years I had always wanted a ‘54 Chevy, and now that I have one I am very happy with the outcome of my latest project. CN