348 Tri-Power: 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop

The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is an iconic classic that sold in significant numbers. The company was always going to have a battle on its hands to produce a follow-up that captured the public’s imagination, but the 1958 model managed to achieve that. This ’58 Bel Air Hardtop is a stunning car that features a very desirable drivetrain combination. It is also a vehicle that has previously belonged to a family with strong links to the NASCAR world. The time has come for it to head to a new home, so the owner has listed it for sale here at Hemmings. The Hardtop is located in Jackson, New Jersey, and the sale price has been set at $39,900. However, that figure is negotiable. A big thank you has to go out to Barn Finder Larry D for referring the Bel Air to us.

The Bel Air was delivered new to an owner in Canada, but it made its way across the border at some point. It has spent years in climate-controlled storage, and one of its previous owners was the Truex family of NASCAR fame. It is finished in Onyx Black, and the presentation is first-rate. The paint shines beautifully, with barely a blemish to be seen anywhere. Black paint will always expose panel woes, but these are as straight as an arrow. The gaps are tight and consistent, and there is no evidence of external rust problems. The seller provides some underside shots, and the floors and frame are as clean as you could ever hope to find. The owner has applied an undercoat to the Hardtop, so that should help it to retain its rust-free status. If Black paint can show flaws and problems, it also makes the perfect background for emphasizing the condition of trim and chrome. In this case, it all looks superb. There are no signs of damage or deterioration, while the glass is just as spotless. The steel wheels are fitted with spinner hubcaps and wide whitewall tires, and these add the perfect finishing touch to the exterior.

If the Hardtop’s exterior presents superbly, the interior provides potential buyers with more of the same. It is trimmed in a combination of Red and White vinyl with Black cloth inserts on the seats. As you can see through the clear plastic covers, the seat upholstery looks flawless. There is no visible wear and no evidence of staining. This theme continues with the remaining upholstered surfaces and the Red carpet. The latter is protected by plastic mats so that the interior can retain its as-new appearance. There are no issues with the dash, and the wheel is surprisingly free from visible wear. The factory clock is intact, but a period-correct radio is installed in place of the original unit. However, the buyer should have no problems finding the correct one if they are striving for originality.

Lifting the Hardtop’s hood reveals what could be considered equal helpings of good and bad news. It appears that the 348ci V8 that resides here might be original, but the Tri-Power setup is a later addition. The other significant change that a previous owner undertook was to replace the original Turboglide transmission with a 3-speed manual unit. There is no power assistance for the steering while stopping power is provided by unassisted 4-wheel drum brakes. This big-block should be producing around 280hp, and with the manual transmission backing it, the Bel Air should romp through the ¼ mile in 16.2 seconds. That’s an impressive figure from a car built in 1958 that could comfortably seat six people. The owner indicates that the vehicle underwent a complete service in December of 2020 and that it has 53,918 miles showing on its odometer. One thing that he fails to tell us is how well the vehicle runs or drives. Hopefully, he is approachable and is willing to field questions on that subject.

This 1958 Impala Sport Coupe Hardtop would appear to need nothing. It is a classic that is ready to be driven and enjoyed by its next owner, and its condition is guaranteed to turn heads. When you look at recent sales results, the asking price does look pretty competitive. This is even taking into account the changes that have been made over the years. While researching this story, I located a previous listing for this car. It failed to sell at auction in March of this year and was passed in with the bidding at $29,250. With that thought in the back of your mind, maybe it would be worth approaching the owner with a respectable offer. The worst that he can say is no. You never know though, today could be your lucky day.

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Comments

  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    It’s a beauty for sure, but manual steering and brakes? This heavy car is got to be a challenge to drive. It’s obviously built for straight line speed. It would’ve been fast in its day, but lackluster at this point in time. Still, it has charm that is undeniable. More of a trailer queen for showing, but not a daily driver. Ouch! My arms ache just thinking about trying to manipulate this beast in tight spaces.
    God bless America

    Like 3
    • B.A.

      Full-size cars with manual steering aren’t really that bad to drive. The key is to have someone that knows how to do a proper front end alignment on it. Align it for manual steering specs and it’s all good. My ’66 Caprice had manual steering, was aligned properly and even with radial tires it steered effortlessly.

      Like 1
      • chuck dickinson

        A 58 Chevy with manual steering is a TRUCK to drive. When I moved up from a 55 BA, I wanted a 58 Impala. First one I looked at was perfect, but w/out PS–NO WAY. Looked until I found another. AND, this was back in 1961 when I was young enough to turn the wheel w/o having to struggle, but the 58 was just too much even for a youngun’!

    • John Traylor

      Not much fun parallel parking this beast.

      • Clay Bryant

        Do a lot of parallel parking with a nice car? If you do I know a little ol’ lady from Pasadena that will try it one more time for old times sake. she’s been workin’ out with 2 lb. weights for 10 years to “Get her done!”

  2. LarryS Member

    What a beautiful car! I love it with or without PB and PS. Many put down the W-engines, the small block and porcupine motors being more popular and having more performance potential, but I love the 348/409 as well as the cars from the years they were available. The clear plastic seat covers were ubiquitous then, despite being true uncomfortable. If you want a true bed-of-nails experience your could see if you could track down a set with the waffle-patterned plastic. The epitome of mid- to late-fifties skin maltreatment.

    This particular car is different for being a Bel Air with a 3-speed on the column, rather that an Impala with the Powerglide or 4-speed on the floor. I’ll bet it sounds great. For sure you won’t see another like this at your local cars n’ coffee!

    Like 4
  3. flmikey

    See how pretty this is without a continental kit hanging off the back? I would want to have this one rather than the red Impala convertible from earlier today…great find!!!

    Like 11
  4. Jay

    Time for a four, five or six speed automatic transmission, electronic ignition and a sweet fuel injection system.
    The car is beyond perfect because you can upgrade with a clear consciense.

    • Skorzeny

      Yup, let’s just dumb it down with another automatic conversion, great!

      Like 8
  5. JW454

    From what I can see in the pictures, all this car needs is the correct air cleaner assembly and the windshield washer jar hooked up. After that, it will be ready to enjoy for another 63 years.

    Like 1
  6. tiger66

    Not a “Tri-Power” unless it’s a Pontiac… Chevy did not use the term.

    Like 5
  7. Rbig18

    I get these were the first year of the Impala and the front end is pretty nice. But man o man that rear end just ruins it all for me. I will always find the 56 the prettiest of the 50’s Chevrolets. To each their own.

  8. Joe Haska

    You had me at Truex Family, to say I am a Martin Truex fan would be a gigantic understatement. At the last race I attended, if I would have sought him out for one more autograph or attended one more personal appearance, I think ,I would have been arrested for stalking. To me he represents everything a professional race driver should be. Its not that I love 58 Chevrolet’s ,I do and this one is exceptional, but the fact that it was in the Truex Family, is enough for me.

  9. Vance

    The ’58’s have ruled the roost this week, but alas this one has fenderskirts as well. I know it’s easily remedied, they just annoy the hell out of me. Caddy’s and Connie’s are the only two vehicles that they consistently look good on. The ’57 had the nicest ass end, it just looks a little more refined. The rear on these looks nice, just a little wide in the glide, curvaceous if you will. Power steering is no big deal unless you parallel park, and I haven’t done that in decades. Very sharp car, makes me wish I had the money.

    Like 1
    • LarryS Member

      Some like the skirts, some don’t. But they were available from the factory as an option and they weren’t uncommon on the ’50’s Chevys, especially on Impalas. By the ’60’s fender skirts were much less common. As you say, they are easily removed. I personally like them here and would probably put them on and take them off depending on my whim and whether I decided to swap on a set of period “performance” wheels (like the Keystones that were nearly ubiquitous in the ’60’s). The skirts, to me, are another thing that sets this car apart.

      Like 1
      • chuck dickinson

        Skirts were NOT a factory option on Chevys from 55 to 1967. These are aftermarket. The main problem with this car is that it’s a ‘made up’ car. There was NO RED INTERIOR for a 58 BA, only on an Impala. However, it is done in the correct BA design, except for the Impala wheel. This one has a rear antenna installed about 12-16″ too far forward. In 58, the antenna went at the back of the quarter, not in the middle. A black car would’ve had a gray interior. Too many ‘owner’s choice’ mods IMHO.

  10. Jay

    Oops, I thought it stayed an auto. My point was get overdrive in there..stick is definitely a better driving experience.

    Like 1
  11. ple

    Why does a Belair have an Impala steering wheel?

  12. Ken

    Judging by the tailights and upholstery this is not an Impala. Impala had 3 rear lights and a multi colored upholstery pattern , if memory serves me correctly.

  13. Clay Bryant

    The State Patrol in Nebraska used 58 Belair 2dr sedans for patrol cars in 58 with the tri-powers and bless the procurement agent he continued the action of a true gearhead and ordered them again in 60. Think

    he was asleep at the wheel? In 60 and 61 he went to Dodge 2-dr sedans with the 2-4 barrel long ram and short ram systems.

  14. LarryS Member

    chuck-

    https://www.classicchevy.com/full-size-chevy-quarter-panel-fender-skirts-1958-40-166825-1.html

    “These Chevrolet replacement quarter panel fender skirts have been manufactured to original factory specifications using today’s modern manufacturing techniques. You will find the fit, finish and function will work superbly for your restoration. In addition, using replacement quarter panel fender skirts from Eckler’s will add authenticity and value to your Chevy.
    1958 Quarter Panel Fender Skirts”

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