Worth Fixing? 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon

The owner of this 1966 Bel Air Station Wagon candidly admits that it has some frame rust. It isn’t clear how severe this is, but he does float the idea of a frame swap. Beyond that, it is a solid wagon that is begging to be restored. Barn Finder Larry D spotted it, so thank you so much for that, Larry. It is located in Salem, Iowa, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN on this classic wagon is $3,950, although there is the option to make an offer.

Before we tackle the rest of this Ermine White wagon, we probably do need to think about the frame. The owner is candid about the fact that there is rust in it, with a hole around the left rear wheel area. He doesn’t supply any photos of this, but he does suggest a frame replacement as the best course of action. Before I wandered down that path, I would probably have it inspected by a suitably qualified engineer. It might be possible to have it properly repaired without considering going to the time and expense of sourcing a replacement. It is possible to buy new frames, but since they leave no change from $9,000, I would consider this a last resort. However, whatever the buyer chooses to do, the work will need to be completed to a high standard. There is no room for compromise in a situation like this because the lives of everyone who travels in this wagon are reliant on the vehicle being structurally safe and sound. The body itself is in surprisingly good condition, with only minor rust problems. There are a few spots in the floor and the spare wheel carrier, but these could be addressed with patches. The same is true for the lower rear quarter panels, the rear dog-leg on the driver’s side, and the lower front fender on the same side. The rockers and the rest of the body look great, including the bottoms of the doors and the tailgate. The glass is in excellent condition, while most of the exterior trim looks like it would respond positively to some polish.

Apart from a missing door trim and factory radio, the Bel Air’s interior appears to be complete. We can’t see the front seat’s state because of the slipcover, but the rest of it shows some promise. Before I spent any money, I would treat the whole thing to a thorough clean. I believe that plenty of parts would look quite good with a bit of effort, and given the amount of money that the frame might consume, saving money elsewhere might be essential if the project is to remain financially viable. While it isn’t loaded with optional extras, the original owner ordered the Wagon equipped with air conditioning and a rear power window.

The original engine for this Bel Air is long gone following a catastrophic failure. The car saw service with a funeral director, which means that it wouldn’t have been thrashed mercilessly. It seems that the 327ci V8 failed later on, and the owner at that point scrapped it. However, the Powerglide transmission and all of the hardware for the power steering and power brakes are present. It might be possible to locate a date-correct 327 to slot into the engine bay, although the buyer might choose to perform a few drivetrain upgrades to produce a more lively vehicle. With crate engines being so readily available and affordable, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the path that the next owner chooses to follow.

Taken at face value, this is a project vehicle with a lot of potential, and the right owner could transform it into something stunning. If this 1966 Bel Air Station Wagon is to be considered as a financially viable project vehicle, it is going to need an owner who is willing to get their hands dirty, and who is capable of performing a lot of the work themselves. Classic wagons continue to grow in popularity, but any project like this needs to be considered carefully. There is a good selection of extremely nice ’66 Bel Air Wagons available in the market today for around $20,000. They are almost certainly going to rise in value in the coming years, but that’s something that doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee. The next owner might consider spending that bit extra to produce something special. If they do and values rise, they will have backed a winner. If values don’t head north, there is the chance that they may have to wear a financial loss at some point. Would you be willing to take the chance?

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  1. Jim

    The extra digit strikes again. He meant $395 right?

    Like 3
  2. Steve R

    A used frame, from a dry state, is the way to go. It may not be the easiest thing to find, but one can be found, especially if it interchanges with a couple of different years.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  3. James Martin

    scrapped the 327? Really?! Possible double hump heads . Ugh. I would say 1000 bucks max on this one.

  4. Major Thom

    I miss the days when old wagons like this were considered to be nothing more than demo derby fodder…

    Like 3


  6. mac1va Member

    Reality is I would need to be in love with this particular car to want to save it. Depending on where the frame is rotted most can be repaired. No engine, body in this shape really it’s a $500.00 car MAX.
    What the $3950.00 ask is based on is a mystery to me? It’s not a Caprice or a factory big block car or 4 speed? I’d be hesitant even at $500

    Like 1
  7. TinCanSailor

    I learned to drive in a 66 Impala station wagon, so they have a fond place in my heart. But as so many others above have said, this car is $400-500 at best, and that would be to take it apart and sell the parts to those with salvagable versions in their garage.

  8. Chuck Dickinson

    Has the rare and highly unattractive factory spotlight on it. Very seldom seen on these. This style was used from 65 up for several years.

  9. BB

    I’m the one of many who gets these cars, I’ve had so many of these big sixties wagons I’ve last track of them all. I do know that I had a ’66 Biscayne wagon because I sold that one 3 years ago, of all of them the 1966 Chevy station wagons or even the 2 and 4 doors are my favourite. The frame change is actually pretty minor to me and if the rest of the body is solid an easy swap out. I think the car is a little overpriced but these do fetch a nice sum when done up right. The missing 327 doesn’t bother me as I would do an LS swap on it anyways. Nice to see that car here on BF’s thank you.

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