1957 Chevrolet Bel Air: Generation Gap


Everyone loves the ’57 Chevy. I loved them, my parents loved them, and just about every person I have ever met loves them. The shape was good and the engine was decent, but why does everyone admire these cars so much? They aren’t rare or even unique, so why would anyone want to restore a wreck like this unless there was some sort of emotional attachment? I have a feeling that it has to do with memories and feelings connected to the car more than what it actually is. To prove my point, I would like to present this rusty project car. Bidding is only at $500 right now here on eBay, but I have a feeling that it is going to skyrocket shortly.

Iconic grill

There’s lots of rust, no motor, and no title. Those are three things that would normally cause potential buyers to scream and run away, but I have no doubt that this car will be purchased by a tri-five fan who will then lovingly dump bucket loads of cash onto it. When these cars where new, they were just that, cars. My mother has memories of riding around in the back of a 1957 Nomad while her siblings attempted to jump ditches out on the ranch. Today such hooliganism would be frowned upon in any car, but especially in a prized ’57 Chevrolet. But, this illustration proves my point. My mother was born in 1957 and instantly had an attachment to one of America’s most iconic cars. She handed that down to me and now I would love to own one too.

Chevrolet V

With everyone else jumping on the same boat though, that dream might never be realized. I would avoid most cars in this condition at all costs, but since ’57 Chevys are in such high demand, this may be the only form in which I could ever afford to drag home. Yet, it would most likely just sit and collect more corrosion because the cost to restore something like this could easily outrun the price of a good one anyway. I hope it gets saved though. Hopefully by someone who has the resources to do it right and the good sense to bring a young person along for the journey. Then there might a chance that the ’57 will continue to be loved by another generation even after we are all gone!


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  1. Dave

    The short “chrome” (actually stainless) trim pieces on top of the rear fins are not Bel Air pieces – made me wonder if it is/was actually a 210 model. The Bel Air trim was longer and extended a lot further forward – almost to the rear window. It does appear to have been a V8 model. It does seem to have the rest of the B/A trim – dash, window moldings, front fender “shark gill” inserts etc, so why the rear fin trim is from a lower-line car is unknown. A V8 Bel Air should also have a gold grille, not the stainless grille shown, which again, is from a lower-line car. A curious mix.

  2. JW454

    This car is an amalgam of parts from several cars. It’s a 210 with Belair trim on the dash and right fender along with the grill. The vee on the hood could be Belair but in the light it’s hard to say. The trunk trim looks to be 210. The left fender is missing the 3 trim “gills” so who knows if it’s original. It has a V8 core support so if that’s the original one it most likely wasn’t a 150. Most of the 150s had the 6 cylinder. It also has the stainless trim along the bottom of the side windows which is 210. The Belair 2 door sedans had a wider stainless trim that went around the top of the side windows similar to the 2 door hard top. Also, Dave is correct. The upper tail fin stainless spear was this short version on the 210 and 150. The Belair was to about the rear window glass. It also has the Belair/210 steering wheel.

    I owned several flavors of these tri-fives and also worked at a restoration shop that was dedicated to the tri-fives in the early 90s.

    Good transportation in their day.

  3. Vince Habel

    looks to be a 210. Chrome V and Chevrolet on hood. Short chrome on rear fender tops. The only thing I see Bel Air is the dash. It is will be a labor of love. The cost will be high.

  4. charlie Member

    Part of the reason the ’55 – ’57’s are so beloved is that they were reliable, unlike Mircrosoft that puts out new products full of inherent defects, even the new 265 V8 was bullet proof, as was the 2 speed Powerglide transmission,. They sat 6 in comfort, were designed and performed on the Interstates, even the 6 could go 75 mph all day, the body was solid, and felt solid, and so they were beloved by their owners who found that the ’58’s and ’59’s were rattle traps, rusted faster, and just not the car the ’55 – ’57’s were. My father bought a ’56 when I was 15, it got passed around the family, I had it from ’65 to ’69, never let me down. I still have dreams about it on occasion – the good ones are that I have run across it in its turquoise and white glory.

  5. herb

    I remember the evening that my dad drove a brand new 1955 pink with white top Chevy Bel Air into the driveway. I think it was the first new car the old man had ever owned. Wish he would have kept it, but living on a ranch in southern Kansas was hard duty on any car. By 1959, he showed up with a black 59 Impala.. I could have bought a Hugger Orange two door hardtop at the chevy dealer in 1970 for 600 bucks.

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