Cheap Project Car: 1964 Chevrolet Bel Air

When I first saw this 1964 Bel Air, the thing that grabbed my attention wasn’t the overall condition of the car or the fact that it had a host of desirable optional extras fitted, but it was the price. You will find this 1964 Bel Air listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Pine River, Minnesota, and comes with a clean title. The price? You can have the car for $1,700.

The Bel Air has been in storage for over 20 years until it was recently dragged out into the light of day. There’s some rust to deal with, but the frame itself appears solid. The trunk pan looks really good, and the rust that you can see in the floor in this shot appears to be the worst of it. There are a few other spots like this in the floor that will need to be addressed. There is also some rust in the lower quarters, a bit in the rockers, and in the lower fenders. None of it looks that bad, and the external rust should be able to be addressed with repairs rather than the wholesale replacement of quarter panels.

The interior of the car is an interesting proposition because it is in far better condition than I would have expected. While we can’t get a good look at the headliner, the rest of the interior looks quite good. There appears to be a lot of gunk and surface mold that will need to be removed, but a deep clean should return the majority of the trim to a pretty decent state. The only note of caution that I would have is about the mold. Everything will be fine with it unless it has gotten its way into any padding. If it has then you may be faced with a complete strip-out and restoration. A quick sniff around the interior will soon answer that question. If it smells okay, then you should be right.

Under the hood is a 283ci V8 which is mated to a 3-speed manual transmission. It doesn’t currently run, but it did when the car was driven into the shed. Bearing in mind that this was 20-years-ago, there will be some work to do before it fires into life. The 20-year-old gas will need to be flushed out of the system, but if the engine turns freely, then you may not need to do much to get the car running again.

To me, this Bel Air is an interesting proposition. For someone who is looking at “dipping a toe in the water” of classic car ownership and restoration, this represents a way of buying a project car at a reasonable price. It also represents an opportunity for an existing enthusiast to get a budget vehicle to sharpen their skills in welding, panel repair, and painting. There are a lot of possibilities in this car, and I suspect that it will probably sell fairly quickly.

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  1. MLM

    Even though it has 2 more doors than I’d like to have,1964 is my favorite year of the full size Chevys.I’ve had 3 of them( 2 of them SS).

  2. Steve R

    There is nothing in this ad that either shows or mentions the frame. Maybe I missed something that led the author to say it looks solid? This has an X-frame, so there is no drivers side impact protection other than the rockers, floor and pillar, two of which seem compromised. It’s a potential death trap for the driver in a side impact collision as it currently sits.

    I’d base it’s value as that of a parts car.

    Steve R

    • Rick

      The post states “the frame appears solid”.

      • Steve R

        How did the author come to that conclusion since there is no reference of the frame in the ad?

        Steve R

  3. David

    What a nice car! V8 too. My 4 door is a big block 4 speed. Click on the A/C, push in an 8-Track, and let the family spread out. Go for it.

    • Pete Kaczmarski

      David, Can you say “White Lightning”? and a real stick shift unlike the movie car.

    • Rick A. Loera

      Love your car. My aunt and uncle had a 1969 LTD Brougham with a 429 V-8. Factory 8-track,A/C, 4 door. That was one amazing car. Super comfortable to travel in.

    • CapNemo

      That’s an awesome ride!

  4. Ron

    Wow – My comments are directed at Steve R. You just brought back memories for me. I can remember my parents and I guess everyone else back in the day espousing the values of a perimeter frame versus an x-frame for safety. That was a big selling point backthen. I didn’t think anyone knew about that anymore ! Thanks Steve R

  5. Larry Hawkins

    What host of desirable extras? I just see the 283 V8 and maybe an am radio.

  6. Everett Lanier Member

    My uncle Daddy Green thought me how to drive in one, it was green of course. No power steering and to parallel park in D.C. was hard, but we learned. Good times hand over hand!

  7. Chebby Member

    What optional extras, the Cheech-n-Chong dingle balls someone added to the arm rests?

  8. Kenneth Carney

    Well friends, it doesn’t get any more basic
    than this. Aside from the aforementioned
    rust, this car looks pretty good to me. I do hope that the new owner restores this
    car to its factory condition instead of
    yanking the engine for another project.
    Far too many 4-doors were crushed
    because of this practice and today there
    aren’t that many left in this condition. If
    I had both money and space, this one
    would be under my carport getting the
    love and attention it so desperately deserves. Just fix the rusty floorboards,
    sort the mechanicals, get the old gal
    running again, and drive her while you
    finish what’s left on your to-do list. Or,
    do all of the above except repairing the
    body rust and drive it in your local
    Christmas parade as the rusty Chevrolet
    of Yooper fame. Either way it’s done, i
    see a lot of fun to be had here. Too bad I
    don’t the cash to make it all happen, but
    someone out there does. “…Oh rust and
    smoke, the heater’s broke, the door just
    blew away. I light a match to see the dash and then I start to pray. The frame
    is bent, the muffler went, the radio works
    okay. Oh what fun it is to drive my rusty

  9. Gaspumpchas

    Cool car and great start for someone. Butt ugly as it sits lol. 283, 3 on the tree–enjoy the ride!!! Good luck to the new owner!!



  10. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking 64 Bel Air. Assuming it goes to someone with knowledge on how to repair and/or replace certain parts to the car, this would make an awesome restoration project. The biggest change I’d make to the car is that I’d replace the stupid warning lights with proper gauges.

  11. Pete Phillips

    We had one of these for our family car, 1964-1968. 283, standard shift like this one, but a wagon. Dad bought it new. Worst car we ever owned. Was using oil by the time it hit 50,000 miles; constant problems with the automatic choke, and when the shift linkage got stuck for the second time between 2nd gear and neutral while my mother was driving it (rendering the car unmovable), Dad traded it in after only four years–shortest length of time he ever owned a car.

  12. Del

    Host of extras ? The extra pedal ?

    I agree. Its a parts car.

    If it was running that might be a whole new game.

  13. Daved

    Nothing here warrants saving. An engine donor at best; scrap the rest. Just when I thought a ‘64 full-size Chevy couldn’t get any fuglier…. let’s move on that more desirable black ‘66 coupe and attempt to unsee this abomination….

  14. Carmudgeon

    One thing that is far too many times not mentioned, is that before attempting to do more than hand rotate the crank, when a vehicle has been left sitting for many years, Change the Oil Before hitting the starter !!! The last thing you want to do is take a chance on destroying a bearing with contaminated oil. Fresh oil is cheaper than rebuilding an engine.

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It’s nice to see someone who isn’t charging 10 times as much for their rusty car.
    A breath of fresh air.

  16. Del

    Worth 400 bucks for parts ?

    • Daved


  17. Duaney Member

    Way too rusty, but I’m spoiled in Colorado

  18. Jay

    That is a great parts car a lot of parts will fit on a 2 door


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