396/3-On-The-Tree! 1969 Chevrolet Bel Air

Chevrolet introduced their Bel Air model back in 1950, and for the next quarter-century, the car stayed in production and lasted through seven generations.  1965 saw the beginning of gen six, when the Bel Air received yet another restyle, with some more restyling along the way before the seventh and final generation began in 1970.  The 1969 models featured a more modern front end and a redesigned rear end, along with some smoother body lines.  If you like the coupe model and have been in the market for a nice late sixties example, this 1969 Chevrolet Bel Air would definitely be worth a look.  It’s located in Concord, North Carolina, and can be spotted here on eBay.  At present, bidding has reached $20,100, which looks like at least enough to drive the car home.

That sure looks like a 396, doesn’t it?  Actually, the 396 was removed from the car, as the camshaft failed after a set of inferior lifters were installed and ruined it.  The car now has a 454 under the hood, which is said to have come out of a 28,000-mile motor home, but it had most of the 396 items put back on to give it a stock look.  It’s stated to run very well, and the column shifted 3-Speed is said to shift perfectly.  The rear end has been totally gone through, with new bearings, a Richmond 3.42 racing gear set, and a brand new Auburn positraction unit.

The Bel Air has had one repaint about 23 years ago in its original color of Azure Turquoise.  A handful of coin-sized rust holes were repaired in the front fenders and quarter panels prior to the respray, but these are the only rusted through areas the seller thinks the car has ever had, and the door jambs, inside the trunk, and under the hood still have the original finish.  The exterior paint is not perfect, as it does have some scratches here and there, along with a paint chip on the driver’s side C pillar and some surface rust under the right side rear glass.  Still, the seller says that overall it looks great, and if a nice driver is what the next owner is looking for it should be fine just like it is.

Things inside are said to be virtually untouched, right down to the carpet.  The instrument panel is looking well preserved, along with zero cracks in the dashboard, plus door panels and a headliner that are stated to be perfect.  There is one small front seat blemish on the driver’s side, but the back seat apparently presents like new.

There are also a handful of photos provided from underneath, with everything we can see looking to be in tip-top shape, plus there’s a new Classic Industries exhaust system in place down below.  The seller says there has never been any rust in the floor areas or inside the trunk, and he even claims the original spare tire is still in place.  What are your thoughts on this 1969 Chevrolet Bel Air?


  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    No complaints with the exception of it sporting a FRAM oil filter.

    Like 21
  2. XMA0891

    This car is Okay; I guess… Wish the owner had installed a chrome air filter, and an aftermarket steering wheel. The car also should have been converted to a four speed, or automatic, by chopping a hole through the transmission tunnel and leaving the three speed collar on the column. Lastly late-model bucket seats, air bags, and a set of chrome wheels would’ve greatly improved the car’s ride and stance. Seriously; this is a beauty! Dad had a red over black ’68 with a V8 and three-on-the-tree. That interior shot brings back a lot of good memories.

    Like 16
    • T. Mann Member

      XMA, here is your opprotunity.

      Like 4
      • Idiot Boy

        It would appear he’s being facetious.

        “Ride and stance” lol. Hide the car and run for the hills

        Like 4
  3. Melton Mooney

    This is a REALLY cool car. I’d have to put a/c on it though.

    Like 16
  4. Evan

    I love the days when cars were ordered a la carte. I would totally expect a big block in the lightest weight body style to have been a 4-on-the-floor, but nope.

    Like 13
  5. Bud Lee

    Beauty .

    Like 11
  6. Steve Weiman

    Oddball stuff like this is right up my alley so it’s a good thing I’m not made of money to bring home unicorns like this. The owner has done some heavy lifting here and the end result is pretty fantastic. Not sure how crazy I am about what is likely a peanut port ultra low compression 454. My uncle had the Ford version of this: Galaxy with a 390 3 speed. Not half as cool as this Chevy though……. :)

    Like 9
  7. gbvette62

    Unless I’m wrong, this car originally was a 6 cylinder Bel Air. The 15511 the VIN begins with indicates a 6 cylinder, 69 Bel Air 2 door sedan. If it had started life with a 396, or any V8, the first five numbers of the VIN would be 15611.

    A 396 3 speed column shift would have been pretty unique, a 3 speed, 6 cylinder stripper Bel Air, not so much. Those 70’s and 80’s motor home and truck 454’s weren’t anything special, and were hardly a performance engine.

    It’s still a nice car, and would likely draw a lot of attention at the weekly cruise night, it’s just not as special as the seller seems to want to present it as.

    Like 15
    • DON

      That makes more sense than a three on the tree 396. The seller doesn’t say the 396 was factory installed either, he states it “had” a 396 that was swapped out when it was damaged , so one could read that there was a 396 in it, but there also could have been a 250 in it before that

      Like 11
      • Frank D Member

        Agree it needs to be 5 on the floor. Still a very nice car.

        Like 3
      • Cadmanls Member

        So why not put a four speed or tremec 5 speed in this. Someone put a big block in it and didn’t bother with some heads and a camshaft? Differential set up to go. Don’t miss understand me but a torque monster with a three on the tree. Crazy

        Like 4
    • Logan

      Doesn’t take much to wake up a so called truck 454. Cam, intake and carb.

  8. CCFisher

    Neat car! The original engine was a 396 2bbl with 265hp, so it wasn’t really a performance car. That engine was all about torque. It wouldn’t surprise me if this car wore a trailer hitch at one point in its past.

    Speaking of trailers, 28,000 miles in an RV is 28,000 miles of rough, rough service. I remember driving my dad’s RV. The engine is under *constant* load. At highway speeds, I had to be on the throttle even when going downhill. Combine that with a ridiculously low axle ratio – Dad’s had 4.56 gears – highway travel has the engine under continuous load at high RPM. Not an easy life for any engine.

    Like 3
  9. Mark

    A cam, aluminum intake and headers would really wake the car up.

    Like 9
  10. princeofprussia

    She’s a beauty!

    Like 6
  11. Denny N. Member

    Have fun buying gas for this guzzler.

    Like 3

      WHO CARES? Worry about mileage as you fill up your Prius!

      Like 3
  12. Mike Geary

    I have owned 68 and 67 427 Biscayne all of which were four speeds but for the sceptics out there, I now own a true 1969 SS 427, 390hp Impala convertible with a three speed on the column.
    I am the fourth owner or this rate odd ball and I have the complete history on the car which includes a copy of the original title, the plates that were on the car when purchased new in Virginia, the protecto plate and a lot of relative paperwork. The engine and transmission are numbers matching and the car is currently on he road. I am in the process of a body restoration and repairing some minor rust issues. This SS gets double takes wherever it goes.

  13. Mike

    This would be awesomely cool with a 4sp but keep the bench seat. I had a 63 Impala set up like that

    Like 2

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