Vendor supplied images
- Iconic American muscle car
- In current ownership since 2016
- Imported from California
The Bel Air was in Chevrolet’s model range for a remarkable 31 years, from 1950 to 1981. The name ‘Bel Air’ came from the city of Los Angeles and the car became almost as recognizable, if not more so, than its namesake.
It was the second-generation Bel Air, made from 1955 to 1957, that really made the car’s reputation and established it as a cultural and automotive icon. In October 1956, Chevrolet rolled out a brand-new model with a few tweaks. The 1957 Chevy Bel Air had longer tail-fins, a V-shaped hood, a newly designed dashboard, a roomy interior, and a wider grille with gold trim. Headlights with wraparound grilles around them, and rear fenders shaped like long tail-fins, gave the newer model a hip, modern look – all of these changes enhanced the car’s reputation and explain why the 1957 Bel Air is particularly sought-after.
The Bel Air has cemented its place in popular culture with numerous TV and film appearances, most notably George Lucas’s 1973 American Graffiti, a nostalgic study of the 1960s cruising and rock’n’roll cultures of Lucas’s youth.
Imported from California, this example looks great in its two-tone paintwork and has had a number of mechanical upgrades to enhance its usability.
The History and Paperwork
- First registered January 1957
- First UK registration June 2016
- Numerous past invoices
- Current V5
- MoT- and tax-exempt
The car was imported to the UK in June 2016 from San Jose, California. The vendor bought it in October 2016 from the importer, and reports that it has recently been stored indoors although it spent some time outdoors when he didn’t have storage available.
The vendor has used it for charity ‘Dream Rides’ with the Sporting Bears Motor Club, where it was always a popular choice with young and old alike! He’s selling it because he doesn’t use it much now and feels it’s time for it to go to a new owner.
As an historic vehicle, the car is MoT- and tax-exempt.
- Seats recently reupholstered
- Front and rear bench seats
- New roof lining
- Original dashboard and dials
- Original steering wheel
- Branded overmats
- Fire extinguisher fitted
The spacious interior looks to be in very good condition, with recently replaced seat covers (although there is some damage to the front one on the driver’s side) and recent door cards, and a brand-new head lining. The vendor reports that all dials, buttons and switches work, and that the gear selector panel is for the old gearbox so doesn't show ‘Neutral’ in the correct position.
The colour-matched steering wheel is starting to show signs of its age, with a few small cracks.
The carpets have all been protected by branded overmats, and look very good.
It has a multi-CD sound system in the boot, and a ‘retro’ head unit in the dash that looks exactly like the1950s original! Also in the boot is a spare wheel with a brand-new tyre, and a protective rubber mat.
- Larkspur blue with ivory roof
- Distinctive tail fins
- US-style numberplates
- Bel Air script in gold on rear wing
- Chrome fender ‘spears’
- Ferrari-inspired grilles
- Full wheel covers
- Hardtop chrome headliner bands
The car has the beautiful colour combination of Larkspur blue with ivory roof. Externally, it’s not in concours condition, but it's very presentable. Although generally sound, there’s some paint blistering on some of the panel edges, a couple of rust spots on the bonnet, and some rust around the base of the rear windscreen and on the boot lid.
Elsewhere the badges and (extensive!) brightwork all look good, with some areas around the windows beginning to show some rust.
The wheels all look to be in great condition, and wear appropriate white-walled tyres.
- 5.4-litre Chevrolet 'Small Block'
- T-350 three-speed auto transmission
- Edelbrock carburettor
- Twin Stromberg carbs supplied
The car was originally supplied with the Straight-6 ‘Blue Flame’ engine and a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. At some point in its life, it has been fitted with a 327 cubic-inch (5.4 litre) Small-Block V8 engine from a 1964 or ‘65 Corvette, and a T350 three-speed auto ’box. It has an Edelbrock carb, although twin Stromberg 97 carburettors (known as the ‘hot-rod’ carbs and apparently much sought after) are also included.
Everything under the bonnet looks to be in good order; this is clearly a car that has been well cared-for by successive owners.
The vendor reports that the car starts easily since installation of the new carburettor and auto choke, and that the brakes have been upgraded to discs at the front with servo assistance (this was done before he bought it).
The original mechanical cooling fan is still there, and is supplemented by a thermostat-controlled electric fan that was fitted by the vendor.
The original cable-operated wipers have been upgraded to the "Raingear" mechanical system which looks the same from the outside, but actually works!
The are few American cars as distinctive and recognizable as the Chevrolet Bel Air, and no Bel Air more desirable than the ’57. Sadly, many ended up as hot-rods or used in stock car racing, which makes the car something of a rarity these days. With a few minor cosmetic issues, this one presents in very good condition for its age and is bound to turn heads and start conversations wherever it goes.