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1957 Chevy Bel Air: Which To Buy?

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

When buying a project car, you want to find the one that fits your situation and skill set the best. You don’t want to fork over hard earned cash for a project, only to get it home and realize you are in over your head. Sometimes there aren’t other options, but thankfully the internet opens up a endless market of classics. When it comes to classics few cars are as recognizable as the ’57 Chevy Bel Air, but finding a good project can be tough. Well there are currently two project ’57s that are on my radar. The one you see above can be found here on eBay in Perry, Georgia. The seller’s listing is a bit vague and rather confusing, but it looks solid and complete. I’m sure it will need work, but could be a great starting point. The other ’57, which Chevy55 came across here on craigslist is in much rougher condition, but the seller is only asking $4,000.

1957 Chevy Bel Air

As you can see, this ’57 has rust issues and is missing lots of parts. It appears that someone began restoring it, stopped, and left it to the elements for a while. It is going to need lots of metal work, paint, and possibly an engine. On the upside, it has a clear title and most of the hard to find bits. So would you spend more to get a car that looks to be solid and complete, but lacks information, or spend less initially for a car that you know is going to need everything?


  1. Tirefriar

    As the bidding stand right now on the black one, it is still the better bargain of the two even at about twice the price. The interior appears to be complete, trim pieces are all there (? – I did not see a complete picture of the rear end, just the close up of the trunk). With the black one you pretty much see what you get. I never liked projects that are in boxes. There will always be something missing or few parts that will take a long time trying to figure out where they go only to realize they were tossed into the box by mistake. As the saying goes, a cheapskate will pay twice….

    Out of the tri5 Chevys, the 55 is my favorite for its uncluttered look. The 57 is my 2nd favorite out of the series even though the market considers these much more desireable.

  2. John E.

    Either way, either one is going to cost you. The deciding factor for me comes in two parts. 1. A clear title, 2. Over all cost. If the title is not clear or non-existent, you’ll have hell to pay getting a clear one. It’s not impossible, just a hassle. The over all cost’s involved to bring it to a stock, restoration result, will cost a lot no matter which way you go.

    • Mike

      My thoughts exactly! No title means no drive in my state.

  3. Vincent Habel

    I don’t think GA was a title state at the time. It would be my choice of the two but both will take a lot of work. The blue one the seller calls it a gem only in his eyes imo.

  4. Barzini

    There is not nearly enough information in either ad to really know but the black 57 seems like the better way to go.

  5. Tracy

    Just looking at them and being female, I see the black and red car. Because it looks more original. What do you guys think?

    • Tirefriar

      The black 57 is the way to go, even at twice the price. It will cost much more than $4k to bring the blue one to the current state of the back car. I would avoid buying projects in boxes because there is almost always a small but utterly important part(s) that will be missing and they will usually be UNOBTANIUM. Better to buy one as complete as possible.

      As tough as California is when it comes to vehicle registration, titling a car with a missing title is no big deal – just fill out a “paperless title transfer form”, mark off title lost or missing and off you go. Out of state vehicles or Ca vehicles that are not in the state computer system will require a vin verification- free service to AAA members.

  6. Willte

    After looking at them both, I think the black 57 would be the safer way to go. It may cost more initially but it does look like its all there.

  7. Oldstuff 1941

    As everyone else seemed to recognize,…The Black car is much more complete and does have a Title. In many states this is a requirement even for the old stuff… In mine it is not presently needed for anything built before 1975. (Thank You Alabama) .

    Seeming to be a much easier and complete project, the Black car is most likely, at the end of the auction, going to end up being 4 to 5 times the cost of the Blue car… It also does not have the original engine, but does have one, as opposed to the Blue car with no engine or trans…

    Personally I am not a real big fan of the 2dr hardtops. I’ve owned a few 57 Chevys and had one 2dr Hdtp,…one… I found that even with all new ‘Flippers’ and weatherstriping and glass, they squeak, rattle and have generally annoying little sounds going down the road. I’ve had 3 2dr Handyman wagons,55-56 and a rust free 57…had a 57 2dr post and am presently building an all original (Barn find) Turquoise and White, 283 Automatic 4dr Bel Air post sedan for my family as a daily driver. We have Kids… The easy access of the 4dr will be nice, along with the roomy back seat.

    I guess for me, a average guy with a budget, who does 99% of his own work, (welding, electrical, drivetrain, and some body finishing, I could go with the Blue car for the entry level price, which with maybe a little dickering could be lowered a little. Just my ol Muscle Shoals, Alabama gearhead thoughts….

  8. Oldstuff 1941

    Here is a photo of it in found condition…

    • '59FORDfan

      Oldstuff 1941: A ’57, identical to your photograph, was my & my ex-wife’s wedding transportation, in 1990. It, always, was her favorite car and, my then-boss, just, happened
      to own one.
      ‘Hope I get the opportunity, to drive one, before I’m gone. (after, a ’59 Ford, that is!)

      • Oldstuff 1941

        If you live anywhere close to Muscle Shoals, Alabama,.(yes …it’s the same one Lynyrd Skynrd sings about in the Song …’Sweet Home Alabama’)…You should get in touch and I’ll let you drive a 57 Bel Air… I don’t presently know anyone with a 59 Ford though…LOL…

        David W.

  9. Collier

    I would go with the blue car ,it’s cheap enough to build the way you want ,when you build from ground up it means a lot more to you verses buying one already built

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