1957 Bel Air Convertible

816C2D26-4DB8-42F2-A4EF-D9B4921FBB32I have been a fan of the 1957 Bel Air since I first saw one with my dad on introduction night in at our local Chevy dealer.  The chrome accents and rear fins were a captivating vision to any nine year old boy.

Over the intervening years, I watched the cars depreciate in value as used cars normally do.  As time went on, the 57’s potential as a collector car grew, as did its value.  Now, the car is viewed as an iconic symbol of the 50s, and the value of nicely restored convertibles approaches or exceeds six figures.

I bought my first 57 Bel Air convertible in 2007 from a very nice fellow in Michigan.  He had completed an exceptional frame off restoration of an onyx black Texas car. The Chevy was immaculate, and would probably be considered by many to be over restored.

The condition of the car made driving it somewhat of a dilemma.   I was afraid of any situation where even the underbody might get scratched.  Since I enjoy driving my cars, this posed a problem.

A couple of years passed, and I decided to take the car to a nearby show.  At the show, I was approached by a large collector, who informed me the car should not be driven.  It confirmed, what I already knew.  He made a substantial offer, and I decided to accept it.

I then purchased a very nice matador red ‘57 convertible from a collector in Kentucky.  The car was a nicely restored, but, unlike the earlier Bel Air, I was not afraid to drive it.  After a couple of years, although the car was not for sale, an acquaintance made an attractive offer.  I decided to accept it, and began looking for another ‘57 Bel Air convertible.

Sometimes the search is a fun and rewarding experience.  Such was the case with the third Bel Air.

After looking at a number of cars, I found a restored onyx black convertible only about 30 miles from home.  In fact, the car had originally been purchased from a dealer in a town only ten miles away.  The car had gone through a recent rotisserie restoration, but needed a new top, seats, and and carpeting.  I received photos documenting the restoration from the seller.

I took delivery of the car, and had the new seats and top replaced.  I removed and replaced the carpeting and added a second, dummy antenna to the rear of the car.  I discovered that the original 283 V8 in the car had been replaced, so I began the search for a correct FC code (power pack, automatic transmission) 283 to install in the car.

After a lot of calls, I found a rebuilt FC 283 motor that was also correctly date coded out of a ‘57 in Michigan.  I brought the engine back home and had it installed in the car.  The Bel Air was now complete and ready to enjoy.  It makes a great running mate to the ‘57 Corvette at all the local shows.

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