Desirable No Reserve Project: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

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There can be many reasons why one classic can represent a better restoration prospect than others. These can include the candidate’s complete nature, the availability of required parts, or the car’s inherent desirability. This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air ticks all those boxes but needs work to recapture its lost youth. However, with the ’57 representing one of the cornerstones of the classic scene for decades, it might be worth the effort and expense. The Bel Air is listed here on eBay in Vacaville, California. Bidding has raced to $3,450 in a No Reserve auction.

Readers may correct me if I’m wrong, but I battle to remember a time when the 1957 Bel Air was unpopular. It was wildly successful when new, with 702,220 people handing over the cash to drive one off the lot. In subsequent years when its contemporaries looked tired and dated, and owners struggled to give those cars away, people were still happy to be seen aboard a ’57 Bel Air. This one is a virtually complete and unmolested vehicle. It wears the popular color combination of Sierra Gold and Adobe Beige paint, although the finish now shows its age. It would benefit from a cosmetic restoration, but the winning bidder faces rust repairs before picking up their spray gun. The seller admits the floors and trunk pan require work, while there are small spots in other locations around the body. None are horrendous, and with replacement steel readily available, returning the Chevy to a rust-free state should not prove challenging. Some small trim pieces are missing, but the remaining items look restorable. The glass is acceptable for a driver-grade build, and the first impressions are this should be a straightforward restoration.

Complementing this Bel Air’s paint combination is an interior trimmed in Copper, Beige, and Black. This aspect of the car genuinely shines, with no signs of upholstery or trim issues. The back seat is excellent, as is the dash. The wheel has minor marks and cracks, and the aluminum items require polishing. That last item sets the tone for the interior because a deep clean would probably be all that is needed to have it sparkling. Any aspect of a classic restoration that costs its owner more time than money is good news.

Although buyers could order their ’57 Bel Air with a 235ci six or a 265ci V8 under the hood, this car’s original owner selected the 283ci eight. They added a two-speed Powerglide transmission and power steering for an effortless driving experience, with this combination providing 185hp under the right foot. Although most owners were less concerned about a scorching ¼-mile ET than their car’s ability to cruise effortlessly on the open road, this Bel Air’s ability to complete the journey in 18.7 seconds demonstrated it was no mechanical lightweight. The seller states the car hasn’t run for many years but doesn’t indicate its back story. It is unclear whether the engine turns, but coaxing it back to life could be possible if it does. If the winning bidder succeeds, addressing other mechanical needs and returning the Bel Air to active service for summer could be a realistic goal.

Trends will often change without notice, and what was yesterday’s must-have item can find itself quickly unloved and unwanted. That occasionally happens in the classic car world, but the decades-long popularity of the 1957 Bel Air suggests it is unlikely to suffer that fate. This one looks promising, and I’m surprised it has only attracted eleven bids. Still, time remains for the situation to change, and the auction’s No Reserve status could prove irresistible to some enthusiasts. Do you fall into that category?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Roughest engine compartment I’ve seen in a long time. Nice looking car that just needs the rust fixed and a complete paint redo, including the engine and compartment.

    Like 3
  2. 64 Bonneville

    Being a relatively new item on e-bay, there is still time left to bid. bidding is up to $5200 as I write this @ 6:17 Central daylight time with 4 days and 20 hours left to bid, will surely go much higher. Weekends are usually the days the most views are made, and if on a watch list could get really up in price. Overall car is in fairly good shape, even with a Florida license plate. I expect it to be in the $15-18K bracket by the time it is all said and done. Hopefully somebody will keep us posted on Barnfinds.

    Like 2
  3. Roger

    In front of a house with what looks like a car trailer in the drive. Probably not listers first rodeo.

    Like 0
    • ACZ

      A Dolphin.

      Like 0
  4. Headturner

    Rusty and crusty. And when there is rust you can see, there is a whole lot more rust you cannot see. Buy a solid car or be prepared to spend a lot of money on metalwork.

    Like 1
  5. TheOldRanger

    This is one of my favorites, and this one needs work, which is really a shame. But I still love the flair and the style.

    Like 2
  6. Jack Quantrill

    I started weeping when I saw one like this sitting outdoors, rusting in Vermont!

    Like 0
  7. V12MECH

    Florida plate, rust in places like left “A” pillar and trunk opening say look over very carefully, the front apron in engine compartment looks like someone dumped a battery on it, yikes!

    Like 2
  8. CarbobMember

    I’m wondering why there is a 1955 Belair video among the photos of this 1957. From what I can see, the ‘55 is a nice car that I would like to park in my garage. It has a California plate so if it’s on the West coast than for this Eastern seaboard dweller it’s not going to happen. As far as rust on the ‘57 goes; I’ve seen far worse. And sprucing up the engine compartment is pretty straightforward. This looks like a good project. Get it road worthy and enjoy. Still at $6,100 now but it won’t sell anywhere close to that. Twice or a bit more is my guess.

    Like 1
  9. Chuck Dickinson

    It has the ‘cheap’ (recirculating) heater rather than the fresh-air version which is a sign it started life in a temperate climate like FL. The rust indicates similar salt air exposure.

    Like 0
  10. Bryan D McDonald

    As a guy who has restored and drove these cars for the past 45 years I have to say many of you are far more generous than I will be on this car. Yes at first glance at the outside of this car it looks like a good candidate for a rebuild. But looking a little closer I see rust in places you just don’t normally see rust like dash, A piller, front splash pan– I can honestly say I have never seen anywhere near that much rust in a front splash pan. My advise would be to steer clear of this one.

    Like 0
  11. Edgar Hatchel

    The car in the video isn’t the car in the stills.

    Like 0

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