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228,638 One Owner Miles! 1953 Bel Air


I realize a lot of the time we try to feature low-mileage survivor finds, but I think high-mileage cars, especially when they are “one-owner,” deserve some mention as well. This 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air was driven by its original owner from purchase in the fall on 1953 until it was sidelined with a water pump failure in 2001, totaling 228,638 miles! It’s located in Desoto, Texas (isn’t that the wrong brand?) and can be found for sale here on eBay, with a buy it now price of $3,500.


Based on the plates on the front and rear of the car, it may well have lived it’s entire life in Texas. There is some corrosion present for sure, and the seller tells us that the driver’s side floor has been plated over with metal to temporarily fix a rust through spot. I’m not sure if the pinkish-gray spots just to the driver’s side of the front hood in this picture are body filler showing through or not.


I think I’d probably find myself wanting to paint this one eventually, although after getting it running and safe who knows? With it’s Target Red and India Ivory two tone paint, albeit faded, the color scheme is very much a product of its time. And yes, I realize that it’s a flipper stating that this is a one-owner car, but at least one owner put all the mileage on it!


What’s that I see under the dashboard? Correct, Watson, that’s a period air conditioner added at the previous owner’s request. I wonder how many years they went in the Texas heat before adding it? I also spy a broken door glass, but I suspect it is flat, so that won’t be expensive to replace either. The seats look perfectly usable with a little cleaning; I suspect they have been recovered, although the front does match the rear, despite the rear looking original with some bad areas at the top of the seat. I love the chrome ribbing down the dash!


Although the engine certainly looks period, it is a replacement 261 cubic inch inline 6 replacing the 235 inline 6 that was originally in there. The seller thinks it came from a truck originally; Chevy started to use them in 1954. While the transmission is the original three-speed manual, the differential has been changed out for one from an automatic Chevrolet. With the simplicity of this drive train, I’ll bet it wouldn’t take much to get it running and driving. Here’s a water pump for sale for less than $150. There are also some spare parts mentioned, although there’s no listing of them nor pictures. I wish we knew whether or not the engine was free, but even so, this might be a pretty simple way to get driving for the summer. Just look at all the parts and accessories that are available!




  1. JW454

    It looks like someone took the buy it now option. Nice car.

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  2. Mike

    It is nice to find somebody that tells the actual miles on a car of this age, most always list them under 100,000 miles I notice. Even some that I have bought or looked at, people will not tell the truth about the mileage for fear of running people off. I have bought quite a few late models with more than 150,000 miles on them.

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    • Kevin

      I don’t understand why but it seems like most people NEED to lie about whatever it is they’re selling, especially vehicles. eBay, Craigslist, ad in the paper, wherever. Fudge, sugar coat, out and out lie, you name it. I was raised right and will not do it, my conscience won’t allow it. So here I am with an eBay store full of truth while 99% of other sellers are lying. It’s no wonder many people refuse to buy anything on that truly evil site. The new ‘Let Go’ selling site is far worse.

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  3. Fred W.

    The only difference between this and all the “28,000 original miles” cars we see are that this one is not fixed up to try to fool us.

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  4. redwagon

    Nice ’63 Pontiac also for sale by same owner/flipper

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  5. Terry J

    Yup, The 261 is a “raised deck” truck version of the venerable 235. The block is a bit taller to allow for a longer stroke. :-) Terry J

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    • Lee Hartman

      I noticed that the head is the older version. If it’s a 261, they must have purchased a short block and re-used the old head. Even though they look different, they are interchangeable. I used a ’54 head on my grandfather’s ’53. The 261 was a great stump puller!

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      • Lion

        Lee, stump puller is right. We launched a 50 Hillman into a snow bank so bad the rear wells where spinning in air. Our friend’s dad yanked us out with a car just like this, even the right colour.

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  6. Mark S

    What a fantastic car, if it were mine I’d do a full restoration driver quality including drive line. Then keep on going ( keep that odometer turning ) nice find.

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  7. five5monsters

    sold yesterday afternoon, rare to have a/c.

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  8. Steve

    My wife was born in ’53. Would have loved to buy it and fix it up, then drive it down the California coast with her. Some day… some day…

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  9. stillrunners

    dang…..it was right down the street about 15 miles…..looks like a good buy !

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  10. starsailing

    I love these 53-54 Chev hdtps. Red…even more! Could leave Chev six in with rebuild…but I would go old school and drop in Buick nailhead, or early Olds/Caddy V-8 .multiple carbs with hydro automatic….and rear end…..Love the ol hydro jump 20 ft offline and shift into next gear….
    Myself…I also….prefer the 53 chev talking car option as seen in my childhood school safety video!!

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