16k Mile Survivor: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-Door

For lovers of all thing Chevy, the 1957 Bel Air holds a special place in their hearts. These iconic cars have remained a firm favorite for decades, and this doesn’t appear to be something that is likely to change at any time in the near future. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted this fantastic ’57 Bel Air survivor, so thank you so much for that Ikey. Located in Onancock, Virginia, you will find the’57 listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $27,500 for a car that does appear to be a true survivor.

If you search around this Bel Air, you’re not going to find a lot of rust. You can see matching spots about the size of a quarter in the bottom of each front fender. There are also some pin-holes in the trunk floor, but that is said to be it. The rest of the car, including the floors and frame, are all as solid as a rock. It also appears as though all of the trim is present, and while some of it is in need of restoration, the vast majority of it looks to be quite good. When I look at the car, I have to say that it would be very tempting to repair the minor rust issues, give it a polish, and then leave it as it is. The ’57 just has a great survivor look about it, and it would be nice if this could be preserved.

It’s hard to get a handle on the interior condition of the Bel Air because we only get this one photo, and that doesn’t tell us a lot. It does look like it’s complete, and none of the external shots show the headliner hanging down, so that’s also encouraging. The other thing that the car has going in its favor is that it is a survivor that has a claimed 16,000 original miles on the clock. It appears from the text of the listing that the owner may be holding evidence to verify this. If that is the case, then the interior might be in reasonable condition. The only things that raises any doubts with me are the amount of wear that is visible on the wheel, as this seems to be much greater than I would expect on a car with this sort of mileage. The other thing that I’m not sure about is the wrinkling in the seat cover that you can see at the edge of this photo. That suggests that there might be some problems to deal with inside the ’57.

Engine photos? Sorry folks, but I can’t help you on that one. However, what I can tell you is that it is a numbers-matching car. There will be a few of you who will be hoping that there’s a V8 lurking under the hood, but I believe that it is the original 235ci Blue Flame six. This is backed by the original 2-speed Powerglide transmission. The owner says that the car runs well, so if it isn’t already roadworthy, maybe it won’t take much work to get it back on the road.

If this 1957 Bel Air is all that it is claimed to be, then it is an example of what is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. Solid, unmolested, and unrestored examples of the ’57 are becoming more difficult to find with each passing year. Given the fact that their popularity is not only undiminished but continues to grow, means that cars like this are set to continue to increase in value. Maybe this is the time to grab one, as it would not only mean owning a really cool classic but also owning a car that could be a great long-term investment.

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Comments

  1. RM

    Call me crazy, but I have never been a fan of the 57, i prefer the 55 any day. But nice car either way.

    2
  2. Max

    As a car enthusiast abd classic collector this is a beautiful example of 57 Chevy Bel Air !

    7
  3. Clipper

    Nice car. Survivor? Probably. 16k miles? Yeah, well, TBD. But not ONE single engine photo? And a blurry dash photo of the interior? What is wrong with people on CL?

    17
  4. Anthony in RI

    Its definately 116,000 miles juding by the wear on the steering wheel!

    41
    • Steve R

      But, but, but the speedometer probably reads 16,000, that qualifies as proof nowadays.

      If there is documentation to back up a mileage claim, the time to show it is in the ad. When it’s not there it should be considered a ploy to jack up the selling price until proven otherwise.

      12
    • Gnrdude

      Yeah As an Avid CAR Guy & former Mechanic for almost 20yrs I’m pretty experienced at De-Bunking Mileage Claims & Given the Condition While it is in VERY nice condition for a 62yr old car It would appear to me that the Odometer has Rolled at-least once.

      27
      • Howard A Member

        Yeah, good luck with that. A while back some sellers jumped all over me because I called their bluff on mileage claims. Apparently, some people have a moral objection when you call them a liar,,,

        15
  5. Bill Murphy

    Steering wheel shows excessive wear. Looks like 116K to me.

    5
    • Scherry Hodges

      I had one of these in baby blue, can’t remember the year though. It was love at first sight. This was about 30 years ago and don’t know if I am dreaming this or not but I could have sworn it had bullet shaped tail lights, maybe 3? I finally had to give it up because it needed tie rods and I couldn’t find them. I agree, the odometer has rolled over at least once.

      1
      • r s

        Bullet shaped tail lights? Maybe on a 1958? There was no place to have such tail lights on a ’57. And it’s hard to believe you couldn’t get ANY part for a mid 50’s Chevy of any model…

        6
      • ACZ

        The only bullet shaped taillights I can think of were on Ron Howard’s 58 in American Graffiti and those were actually 59 Caddy lenses adapted to the 58 Impala. A common custom trick back then.

        1
      • Scherry Hodges

        I could be dreaming the bullet shaped tail lights….in my mind they were not horizontal but vertical. Maybe I saw a car like it in a movie and thought mine looked like that too. It was too long ago but I will do some google searches later, now I am curious. As far as not being able to find tie rods for it, not sure how I would have found them pre internet days without going to a junkyard. Perhaps the people who told me that it was impossible were not really trying g to help me….I don’t know, can’t remember. Thanks for the comments.

        1
  6. Smokey Member

    How silly of someone, trying to get top dollar for a “low mileage” car to NOT spend a few bucks on a new steering wheel. And a few more bucks on a new good fitting seat cover, Two very obvious things that immediately make a prospective buyer question the validity of the claimed low mileage. I would have even spent even a few more bucks on a top rate wax job to really make the Bel Air shine!

    18
  7. MathieuB

    This car came from the factory with the straight 6 for sure.
    There is no V on the hood or trunk.

    11
  8. ACZ

    Mileage claim aside, the one thing I can never understand is how a car like this can remain hidden/undiscovered for so many years. You would think it would have been “found” long ago.

    4
    • Dickie F

      No. It is possible for cars to sleep undetected for many years.
      As some of you may know, I just extracted a Mustang from 25 year storage in the original owner’s garage.
      It is completely orginal, just needed a wash to absolutely shine. 68k miles.
      After the normal mechanical replacements, it is in as new. Unbelievable.
      These cars are out there.

      12
  9. Dovi65

    16k miles on the ticker equates to about 250 miles a year since new. I’m calling BS on that claim. Given the wear on the interior, this BelAir has traveled at leat 116k miles in it’s 62 years of life.

    13
  10. Ted

    Another curber who has a zero chance of getting into Mensa.

    7
  11. ruxvette

    I agree with the steering wheel comments. Also, some folks put seat covers on a new car but they were usually clear, not the crappy cover this one has. Rust on the shifter…oops.
    To me it looks like peeling clear coat on the trunk…and we know that ain’t right.
    Do a proper detail, replace nothing, and try again with a LOT of fotos.

    9
  12. On and On On and On Member

    Bought my second 57 Chevy 210 2 door sedan in 1968 for $10. Had a blown powerglide. We pulled it home with chains and rebuilt the trans. Drove it for 2 years, back and forth to California. Gave it to my sister after that, my dad put power steering on it for her from junk yard parts…………. that’s the way it used to be………………………….

    15
    • John Oliveri

      Steering wheel sez no, more like 116,000 miles, unless owner pumped gas for a living

      6
  13. On and On On and On Member

    Bought my first 57 Chevy Bel-Air 4 door sedan for $1 from a friend of my grandmother in 1967. It was only $1 because the timing gear (nylon) was shot and the car barely ran. They just wanted it gone and it had 99,000mi on the odometer. It was yellow with yellow and black interior. 6 stick and power nothing. We replaced the timing gear and put new ball joints on the front end and I drove that one for a long time. Bought a stereo radio out of a 1966 Chevy Caprice wreck from a bone yard across the street from the original Warshawsky/ J.C. Whitney on Chicago and had the best tunes in town. ………………..it’s memories like that that keep me on Barn Finds every day.

    14
    • shanahan

      Down Archer Ave to Warshawsky’s. Made that trip a lot feeding my ’57 and then ’59 Chevy’s, parts.

      4
    • fastfred Member

      Got a lot of stuff Warshawsky/J.C. Whitneyit was where you could get neat junk for the car. I think its still going.

      1
  14. Ghostnote

    16K miles? Would love to see the documentation, er, “PROVENANCE”. And the seller doesn’t even wash/polish/wax/detail this in preparation for sale? Might have made the mileage claim more believable, or at least the car more attractive. This would be far more desirable with 3-on-the-tree, a natural pairing for the six. Also overpriced—closer to $20K is more like it. Otherwise, a pretty cool ‘57.

    4
  15. Srt8

    Didn’t the Bel Air have rubber bullet tips on the grill?

    1
    • Red Horowitz

      They were optional.

      4
  16. PatrickM

    I have to agree with all the comments as to mileage. Article states that owner has documentation to back it up. So, why not show it in ad. And, like always, if you want to sell it, ya gotta show it. More pics!!! Get it out of the shade. Just how gullible do they think we are? Apparently, very. So, I believe this is not quite the queen seller says it is. In that case, I would pull the 6 cyl and put in a well built 350, pull the Power Glide and install a well built TH 350. Leave the body alone, repair interior, install disc brakes, upgrade all safety features, new stereo. Voila!! Resto mod.

    3
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

      Why the big fuss about the mileage? If you want a nice restorable drivable 57 Bel Aire 6 cylinder automatic car, just buy it, if not don’t gripe.
      God bless America

      4
  17. Steven Wilson

    Gentlemen, I own a 55 mercury with 59,000 original miles on it and the things that throws this out the window is look at the steering wheel all the finish is off the wheel. This being said, I would expect the cars odometer to have gone over 1 time. Granted this is a great looking auto, just seems like there a lot of people scamming to get $$$$$. The price for this in this condition even with 116,000 to me is a fair price.

    2
  18. Jeff Barn Fan

    I’ll jump in the fray….it’s definately 116K miles…just speculating here but looking at his pic I think he’s just flipping a car he found. He’s trying to cut a fat hog…a true 16K mile survivor would pull close to $80k just by shear market demand.

    2
  19. Joseph Giedlinski

    poor lookin paint…repaint?

    2
  20. ctmphrs Member

    I assume none of you mileage experts have ever seen a little old ladies car that didn’t the city where it was purchased. When I was a youngster { a hundred years ago} we had a neighbor lady that drove her 56 chevy belair 4-door, 1 mile a day every day for 40 years. Figure it up.The carpet and the steering wheel looked like 100000 miles.

    2
  21. Bern

    Caveat Emptor…..

    2
  22. Smokey Member

    Little old ladies car that didn’t the city………….? Proof reading is really necessary on Barn Finds for us the realize your message……….PLEASE

    5
    • JEFF S.

      My guess = A little old ladies car that didn’t “LEAVE” the city where it was purchased.

      5
  23. Duaney Member

    One glance at the steering wheel, just like everyone spotted already. And who’s to say it’s not a well cared for 216,000??

    4
  24. Russ

    If I remember my Chevy facts correctly, the gold emblems and grill were indicated a “power pack” engine, which meant either the dual four barrel carbs or fuel injection. Obviously, since there is no V on the hood this is a 6 cylinder and not a power pack car. This is likely just a nice older restoration. The price is not out of line for a nice older restoration, however.

    1
    • Srt8

      I believe the gold was just to indicate Bel Air

      1
    • r s

      Most Power Pack 283’s were higher compression, single 4bbl and dual exhaust. There were a very small number of dual quad engines with the Corvette cam sold but that was not required for the ‘power pack’ option.

      1
  25. bob carroll

    even if it is 116 thousand, thats still a low mileage car. there aren’t many like this out there anymore.

    2
  26. Stevieg Member

    You are looking @ a nice solid 1957 Chevy BelAir hardtop. No one is arguing that. That alone is rare. But then you throw in the red vast with white roof/trim paint scheme. Factor in a reasonably affordable asking price of $27,500. Who cares about the details? If you like it, place a bid or make an offer. If not, go home! Sure, it doesn’t have the gold “v” on the hood. It is a six cylinder car. Sure, the gold trim is supposed to belong to the v-8 powered BelAirs. It has it but is a six cylinder car. Someone added it. Was it restored? Maybe. Is it original? Maybe. If original, someone upgraded the trim. Does it happen? Of course! If original, Maybe the old “v” fell off the hood & it might be a true v-8 car. At this point it doesn’t matter. Like it? Buy it! Don’t like it? Walk away.

    3
  27. Ruxvette

    All Bel Airs had gold trim.

    1
  28. Mike

    RUXVETTE is correct (gold trim fender badges and no V chevrons.) and notice the rubber bullets on front bumper gone or never installed. High mileage 235 cu.in. in nice condition but I feel seller’s hiding something.

    3
  29. Nomader

    Maybe a good start for a restoration or resto-mod, but be aware of older re-paint after tons of “finger sanding” . Quarters and doors are waving back. Right front bumper took a hit which bowed out fender. Right front fender chrome is bent and flattened. Price seem a little high considering the unknowns.

    2
  30. Bob

    Mileage is irrelevant for these restorable old cars. Every nut, bolt and screw and most parts are available new. If it does not need massive amounts of sheet metal/body work…clean it up take care of the mechanicals and enjoy!!

  31. Ted

    The comment above about the little old lady’s car rang a bell about a 56 Chevy convertible that an older lady had in Richmond in the 70’s. I might get some of the details wrong but it too was a low low mileage 6 cyl auto car and the paint and interior looked like it had been on tumble dry for years. Point is, if we went back in time, she wouldn’t have fudged the advert and sold it for what it was, simply a low mile dirtied up car. Whereas now curbers are going to great lengths to bs facts, take misleading photos, and that should get people’s backs up. I hate liars, I’ve driven hundreds of miles to look at supposed rust free cars and when I’ve got there you could each peaches through the rust holes. Now you guys know why I hate p.o.s. curbers/flippers.

    3
    • Scherry Hodges

      Same. Happened to me a few months ago. He had 30 photos of the vehicle on Craigslist. “Serious buyers only.” He said. When I rearranged my entire day, and showed up the car was not as pictured. The photos had to have been at least ten years old. He probably used the same photos that was used when he bought it. Still I put aside cosmetic and basic cleanliness and took it to a mechanic for a complete check that cost $50 only to find out the car had a laundry list of issues. The ad read, “Mechanically sound and ready for adventure.” 😡

      I love reading the objective comments here on this board. I learn a lot that way.

      4
  32. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Ok I’ve heard enough naysaying. I’m on my way to California to check this car out for myself.
    God bless America

    1
    • DKW

      You won’t find it there… it’s in Maryland.

  33. Bodyman68

    Funny how milage is all your problems here, look at pedals they tell the story as so does suspension . Look at linkage 16k it should be tight as parts were better built back then, if you can look under car see if its got caked on grease and grab the draglink and pull it up and down ,if it moves its got high milage. As far as it goes looking at it this really isn’t bad for what it is. Do your homework and find one for less in better shape good luck. Id buy it and im sure a flipper will and clean it up so don’t be surprised when its for sale 6 months from now for double the price.

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