The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is in a pretty elite group when it comes
to significance and overall impact on the collector car hobby. It's
one of the most easily recognized cars on the planet and clean,
stock examples routinely fetch a solid six figures at auction.
Sporting impressive turquoise aesthetics, a correct 283/2-speed
drivetrain and a thorough, frame-off restoration, this Bel Air is
the kind of well-done classic that goes above and beyond the nearly
universal appeal of a stock model. If you're considering a
show-stopping tri-five, why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars
building a similar car when you can take home this completed
masterpiece for a fraction of the money?
The '57 Chevy has become a symbol of an automotive golden age, exemplifying some of the best America had to offer for the 1950s. Even before it was the subject of a comprehensive, frame-off restoration, conducted by Chevy specialist Bob Phelps, this Bel Air was bestowed the prestigious Senior Award from the Antique Automobile Club of America. Since that body-off reboot, which was completed in 2006, the car has left climate-controlled storage for just 180 miles of sunny, weekend cruising. And today, this drop-top rolls as one super cool classic that, thanks to its spectacular combination of color and trim, has an absolutely magnetic presence!
Speaking of trim, all this Chevys incredible chrome is present, accounted for and ready to show. At the front of the car, a guarded bumper props a correct gold grille behind clear parking lamps, a small AACA plaque and a brilliant Chevrolet crest. At the top of that grille, chrome-trimmed, factory-spec headlights and gold header ornamentation lead a domed hood that's decorated with familiar Speer Bullet Spoons. At the back of that hood, polished wipers clear tinted glass, which is trimmed in polished frames, a correct mirror and power-operated vinyl. At the base of that glass, Bel Air-branded spears split the difference between traditional door handles, correct fender louvers and dent-free rocker guards. And at the back of those spears, a classy continental kit reflects small tail lamps, dual antennas and optional trunk trim.
In the late '50s, Chevrolet's 283 cubic inch Super Turbo Fire V8 was a common choice for factory GM performance. And with an advertised 220 horsepower, it's an impressive piece even in today's world of 300 horsepower grocery getters. At the top of the bright orange mill, a dressed and decaled air cleaner funnels wind in to a reliable Carter carburetor. At the base of that carb, a correct, cast iron intake feeds correct, cast iron heads that are finished with stamped and silver-detailed valve covers. At the back of those heads, a familiar points distributor shoots fire through loomed Radio GM plug wires. Once those fires have been lit, a re-cored radiator circulates coolant through pliable GM hoses and authentic squeeze clamps. Once that air and fuel is torched, Ram's Horn exhaust manifolds whisk spent gases in to big, true-dual pipes. Once combustion is created, new V-belts spin a tagged Delco-Remy generator opposite a tagged Delco yellow cap battery. And, since this small block was thoroughly rebuilt during the car's extensive restoration, everything, from its neat GM washer system to its old school AC fuel bowl, is complete, clean and well sorted.
Under this slick Bel Air, a straight, Satin Black frame rides a plethora of clean suspension parts. Above that sturdy chassis, light overspray shades Red Oxide primer, which protects solid floorpans. Behind the engine, a correct Powerglide 2-speed twists torque to a correct, posi-traction rear end that's fitted with moderate, 3.42 gears. Lucid power steering provides modern turning characteristics. Confident stops come courtesy of power drum brakes. A 2.5-inch stainless exhaust system pipes spent gases through deep-sounding turbo mufflers. And power meets the pavement thanks to Tropical Turquoise steelies, which spin 7.50-14 BF Goodrich Silvertown whitewalls around ornate spinner hubcaps.
The spectacular cockpits in second generation Bel Airs need no introduction, but here goes. Depress the buttons on this Chevy's bright chrome door handles and you'll find a sensational Turquoise and Ivory interior. The power front and fixed rear seats are all-day comfortable, featuring supple, chrome-trimmed hides that fit well and feel great. In front of those benches, a smooth turquoise dash centers an original Wonderbar radio over an optional tissue dispenser and rare vacuum ashtray. At the edges of that dash, 2-tone door panels anchor sculpted toppers and classy stainless trim in front of factory power windows. The driver spins a correct turquoise steering wheel around a chrome horn ring and classic Chevrolet centerpiece. And passengers store their essentials in a freshly finished trunk that features a correct mat, a correct jack and correct decals.
Senior National First Prize from the Antique Automobile Club of America
Platinum Certificate from Classic Chevy International
- 991 out of 1,000 points
OUR SALE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTATION AND ACCESSORIES
A vintage Owner's Manual
Vintage accessory literature
The car's Classic Chevy International Platinum Certificate
The car's Classic Chevy International judging sheets
A couple of Tennessee black plates
Some touch-up paint
A top notch restoration takes a while to fully absorb. Its major features may not hit you immediately but, the longer you spend looking at it, the easier it becomes to see just how much work has actually been performed. From its sweet 283 to its amazing interior, every piece of this Bel Air shows as though it was the priority of the build. If you're in the market for a well-executed copy of America's most iconic automobile, don't miss your chance to own this killer '57 Chevy!
Frame-off restoration completed by Chevy specialist Bob Phelps
Awarded Senior National First Prize by the Antique Automobile Club of America
Platinum certified by Classic Chevy International
Correct 283 cubic inch Super Turbo Fire V8
Correct Powerglide 2-speed automatic transmission
Sale includes: Restoration photos / A Classic Chevy Int. Platinum Certificate / Classic Chevy Int. judging sheets
Tropical Turquoise paint
Turquoise and Ivory interior
Factory power steering
Factory power drum brakes
A shiny Chevy grille, a little electrical tape, and we were stylin’, at least for a weekend
The Pick of the Day is a Chevy that packs the big-block performance V8 that was the subject of a famous Beach Boys song
This is the 12th vehicle in the 30-day Countdown to Barrett-Jackson’s 47th annual Scottsdale auction.
AutoAncestry leads new owner to the shops that restored his show-quality car
In 1958, I turned 16 and got my first car, a ’50 Chevy convertible my two older sisters had abandoned.
In the early 1970s, when I was 5 years old, my grandmother bought a ’71 Chevrolet Chevelle.
With Spring upon us I can’t help but daydream of road trips – those perfect moments when you don’t have a care in the world, the windows are down, and your favorite song is on the radio.
What fascinates me about the Chevrolet Bel Ai is not only how it became an iconic classic car but an American icon over the last 60-or-so years since it debuted as an everyday family car.
A couple of years ago I was attending the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona Beach.