1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Barn Find!

Oil is often referred to as “black gold,” and maybe that would be a good tag to apply to this particular classic. It isn’t clear just how long this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has been hidden away in a barn, but finding it would certainly have to qualify as the automotive equivalent to striking black gold. Under that layer of dust is a solid car just begging to be revived. Located in Shelbyville, Illinois, the Bel Air has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $24,500, but the option is available to make an offer. There seem to be a few people who feel the same as I do about this classic because there are currently 176 people who are watching the listing.

The owner of the Bel Air says that it is solid, and while the supplied photos are a bit limited, what we can see certainly looks promising. There are no photos of the vehicle’s underside, but the single photo of the trunk shows little more than some light surface corrosion. In fact, as far as rust issues are concerned, surface corrosion is the only thing that rates a mention in the listing. I would like to get a look under there myself, but taking it on face value, it looks pretty good. While photos can sometimes flatter to deceive, I would also love to get a good look at the Black paint on the Bel Air. It doesn’t look bad, and it might be that a wash, buff, and polish will produce some pretty positive results. It might not result in perfection, but it could produce a car that looks very presentable. I suspect that the external trim and chrome might be in the same boat, while the tinted glass also looks to be in nice condition.

The Bel Air’s story seems to be one of consistency when you open the doors and take a look inside. The silver and black trim on the seats and doors looks to be in great condition, and the only significant flaw that I can spot is some discoloring of the rear armrests. What we can see of the dash looks good, but we can’t see the floors. It isn’t clear whether there are mats there, carpet, or nothing at all. Once again, it would be interesting to give the interior a thorough clean, because I think that apart from that, there would be little to do inside the car. Encouragingly, the factory radio is still in the dash, and it doesn’t look like there have been any aftermarket additions made to the interior.

Lifting the hood reveals the first truly obvious deviation from original, and potentially the area which may require the most work. Nestling in the engine bay is a 327ci V8, backed by a 2-speed Powerglide transmission. It is unclear how long the ’57 has been locked away for, but the owner admits that he has made no attempt to fire the engine into life. He doesn’t indicate whether he has checked to see if it turns freely, so the next owner will be delving into the great unknown from a mechanical standpoint. Having said that, what we are talking about here is a tried and true mechanical configuration, so as long as the engine isn’t locked rock solid or have any major internal failures, getting it back to sound mechanical health shouldn’t be a huge problem.

The term “iconic” tends to get seriously overused today, but the ’57 Bel Air has been a staple of the American classic car scene for so long that there is little doubt that this is a car that qualifies as a motoring icon. This one shows a lot of promise, and the person who buys it would seem to be a pretty fortunate individual.

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Comments

  1. SusanOliver

    I “knew” a guy with a fairly new one like this. In those days I liked the 1956 better, but the fella was real fine. We would have called him a swell guy in those days.

    Like 10
  2. Will Fox

    Gee, a rolling chiche found in a barn….the ‘holy grail’ of Chevys….zzzzzzzzzzzz
    Next……….

    Like 10
    • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

      57 Chevy’s are not at the top of my automotive wish list, but they sure seem to be popular with the general auto enthusiast population, I suspect moreso than any other make/model. I don’t quite understand why anyone who dislikes them so badly would take the time to read the listing and especially to put the effort into writing their feelings. When a listing comes up I don’t care for I don’t waste time whining about it.

      Like 15
      • 38ChevyCoupeGuy Member

        Exactly. Thank you .

        Like 6
    • Barry

      Actually the 57 Chevy is the holy grail of all cars. Not just Chevys.

      Like 2
  3. Stephen

    Curiously I wonder why the steering wheel is resting on the seat and it’s not connected in the engine bay

    Like 3
    • Bear

      The steering wheel appears to be in a normal position/height in other pictures. Perhaps it is an optical illusion in the one pic of the front seat?

      Like 2
    • CFJ

      Not a Chevy man, but was the 327 engine available in 1957?

      Like 4
      • Dave

        For that answer you only need view the final courtroom scene from “My Cousin Vinnie”.

        Like 8
      • RegularGuy

        I didn’t think there WAS a 327 c.i. V8 in 1957. I always believed the 327 came out in 1962.

        Like 2
      • Jost

        No, 283 was the top engine in 57.

        Like 5
      • James I Bowlds

        Yes, it sure was.

        Like 2
  4. Andy

    Why would you drop a 327 in here but leave the Powerglide? Either way, you’ll never match numbers again so go for an LS and Turbo 400.

    Like 9
    • SusanOliver

      Because they handle badly. Too much HP in a car from this era is not your friend. Of course, if you want to make the nightly news, be my guest.

      Like 15
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        lol!

        Like 3
      • Johnny

        Susan-the LS produces between 300-320 hp. The next time you go to a car show. Look at some of the big powerful motor in some 57 Chevrolet and talk to the people. Some may even take you for a ride. If you sit on a bed pan. They had some power motor along time ago and were made better–with steel. Not cheap aluminium and plastic. Yes some engine parts are made of a plastic material that does melt. I,d re-do what needs to be done and drive it. They are made to drive. Not collect dust.

        Like 1
  5. BlondeUXB Member

    Cheater-slick spare (?)

    Like 2
  6. Bob S

    For any kind of money, I would still want to have a good look under the car. It appears to be a great candidate, but I think the owner is asking for a lot of money for a non number matching car.
    It certainly looks great.
    Bob

    Like 5
  7. Maverick

    Not original engone .

    Like 2
  8. Dave

    Just because it’s a 57 2 door and doesn’t appear to be a rotbox means that it will command high dollars. Numbers matching only seems to be an issue with 60s muscle cars.
    In the 60s it was common for rodders to ditch the 283 for something with a little more schmaltz, depending upon what showed up in the local wrecking yard. Back then you bought carbs, intake manifolds, headers, ignition, and cams from the mail order catalogs. Pistons and other machine work came from the local speed shop and knowledge was gleaned from magazine articles and local racers.

    This car? After a thorough inspection it’s time to get a few cans of PB Blaster, the toolbox, and Summit Racing’s vast inventory along with Wilwood’s catalog. If you’re gonna go you gotta be able to woah!

    Like 4
  9. Bing

    This is a relatively unmolested 57 two door hardtop. Body appears to be in good shape, and the 327 of course is not the original motor. Easy to go back to the 283, but i would opt to a 302 or another 327, chrome out the engine to make it look nice when you pull the hood, change out the two speed for a 350. This is all relatively simple tasks that a normal “parts changer” like me could do. Be sure to go to dual exhausts with a little rumble, and cruise away. Fix the other issues as time and your budget allows. Offer the guy 20K and when he says no, split the difference. You will not get into another 57 hardtop cheaper then this.

    Like 9
  10. Del

    I like Bing’s thinking.

    I would see if 327 could be saved.

    Failing that I would source a SBC 400 and auto tranny.

    New black paint and away you go.

    Like 2
  11. Buddy Lewis

    the 327 came out in ’62, the Turbo 350 came out in ’69, you figure out the rest

    Like 3
  12. JP

    From these pics it looks like a nice ’57 but need more especially for anything close to this asking price!

    Like 1
  13. Ken Cwrney

    I too would keep the 327, which was a
    natural replacement for a well used 283
    as the outside dimensions were basically
    the same. What you have here is a very
    nice Bel Air that was treated to a period
    correct engine swap to keep the family
    bus around a while longer. Whoever
    swapped the engine did the most logical
    thing open to him as the Powerglide tranny was a bolt in deal. And yes, you
    could get the powerglide on any Chevy
    product except for Corvettes through
    1971. If I had the room and money, I’d
    build this for my mother in law so that
    she could drive a ’57 Chevy one last
    time.

    Like 1
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I owned a 57 2 drht in 1967. It was a white with red interior, 283 a/t, p.s, p.b. model. The body was really nice as was the interior, but the brakes and exhaust systems were in bad shape at time of purchase. I paid $200 for it and drove it as repairs began. It would vapor lock on hot summer days leaving me sitting on the side of the road. In those days I worked at a food processing plant earning less than $3.00 per hour so money was tight with a wife and baby to support. Therefore car repairs were at the end of my budget.
    Now after all that, I would love to get another 57 and this one looks to be a nice one to start my long forgotten dream of restoring my old 57.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  15. Roger

    A friend of mine had one of these back in the early 70’s when it seemed those years were a dime a dozen. Fun car and fun times. Just watched American Graffiti and personally I think I’d rather have the 58 Chev Impala.

    Like 4
  16. James Duckett

    That shot of the front right is showing rust on the frame behind the wheel. Not sure if that’s cause for concern but warrants a closer look.

    Like 3
  17. Roger Owen

    Growing up in ’50’s England we would rarely see what we used to call a ‘Yank Tank’ (no offence intended), but as kids – when we did see an American car – our jaws would drop! They were so much bigger and more flamboyant than our little, understated, roundy, Austins and Standards. It wasn’t until I visited West Coast USA in the mid ’70’s that I realised why cars there were so much bigger there…… the geography of the country was so much bigger than tiny little England!

    Like 7
  18. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    So it has a new owner and is being flipped…don’t you just hate rollback pictures !

    Like 3
  19. William Dugger

    No, just the 283

    Like 1
  20. TimM

    It looks like a pretty original car inside!! Of coarse the motors been changed but the car doesn’t look beat to death and minimal rust!! There definitely isn’t enough room to get my legs under the steering wheel to sit in the seat!! It just seems a little pricey to me in my opinion!!

    Like 1
  21. Roy L

    Said to say every time I go to a car show I see several of these for sale I think that way overpriced you can get I restored one for about the same

  22. Dan

    I would look at it this way….. offer 20k, plan on another 10k to got it to “daily driver” status and have a nice ride
    Or spend 34k on a Toyota Corolla. Hmmm

    Like 4
    • PatrickM

      $34K for a Corolla??? No thanks.

      Like 1
  23. dr fine

    I thought the Bel Air had black rubber dagmars and the round chrome vents were on the lesser models.

  24. Mountainwoodie

    Come on folks……..everybody loves a ’57! This aint that bad. Period correct replacement engine what the heck! I admit I always wanted a ’57, had a ’56 4 door hardtop, and passed on an absolutely beautiful ’67 Bob Wingate ( with the original seat covers still on it) back in the eighties because I am so cheap, All of eleven grand in 83 dollars.

    Some farmer must have had it in a hay loft and after he fell off the hay truck the seller came along and bought it for a song…..:)

  25. David Ulrey

    Only negative comment I’ll give is that it’s a very lazy ad. I’ve seen people selling an old Cavalier on Craigslist for a thousand bucks that showed more pictures and they actually took the time to try to clean up the car. Just because a car is desirable isn’t any excuse to be that lazy presenting it in an add.

    Like 2
  26. jimmy the orphan

    Everybody has a BIN price that they throw at the wall to see if it will stick. 24k on this one is pie in the sky. It looks to me like what Stephen said that the steering may be touching the seat. No way should it be even close. The universal joint seems to be moved to the right. But maybe it all only seems that way. For anything close to 24k the car must be running and driving. period. This guy didn’t even wash it ? ? Anything that’s been sitting in a barn also must have clear shots of the under side of the car No exception. Don’t get me wrong the car looks great. For the most part really nice. If this is so then why not show it. I would not bid any higher than 13k sight unseen. Only because of the poss. rust problems for the most part. Later………….

    Like 1
  27. Jay B

    My brother-in-law had one a ’57 the same color as this one. He painted it canary yellow.

  28. Nathan

    Interested in this item
    nathanmcfadden@optusnet.com.au

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