Kansas Survivor: 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop

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When was the last time you saw a 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop survivor like this? Recently purchased from an estate in Wichita, Kansas, this Chevy spent its entire life in the Jayhawk State and paperwork shows that it was bought new from Hobbs-Skinner Chevrolet and delivered on August 30, 1950. The seller claims it has been garaged its entire life, was last tagged about 20-25 years ago, and except for one repaint, the car is original with no modifications to the body or drivetrain. This black beauty has a clear Kansas title with a Bill of Sale provided and is in Hays, Kansas. It is for sale here on Craigslist for $8,500 or best offer. Props to Pat L for sending this terrific tip our way.

What a difference a roofline can make. Chevrolet had introduced their new postwar “slab-side” styling the year before which proved to be popular with buyers. But 1950 was the first year of the Bel Air two-door hardtop, an option on the De Luxe model. Their sales brochures described it as “The beautiful Bel Air: the airiness and interior richness of a convertible with the coziness and permanence of an all-steel-hardtop.” And it was a hit with the Chevrolet crowd. Over 76,000 sporty Bel Air hardtops were sold in 1950 and that number would shoot up to over 103,000 sales in 1951. Based on the photos, this Bel Air looks like a solid survivor that has been garage kept and has only had one repaint at some point in time to its original Mayland Black factory color.

The seller describes this Bel Air as “A very solid car; does have some rust in front floor pans, braces and the right side of the trunk area” and photos of the trunk are provided. It looks like the trim and chrome pieces are there, but some of them, especially the front bumper, have lost their gleam and look their 71-year-old age. Fender skirts were on car when the seller purchased it and are in the trunk. Put those back on and this sporty survivor would look even cooler.

The interiors in the Bel Air were described as a “two-toned combination of rich leather and fine pile-cord fabric” and were fancier than other Chevrolet models. I bet when new, this burgundy leather and khaki pile-cord fabric combo was stunning like this sales brochure illustration shows.

It would need a new interior and currently has some mismatched black and gray seat covers on the front and back seats, and would need new door and rear panels as well. The dash looks very shiny, though there are wires hanging down underneath, and the steering wheel would need replacing. I’m not sure about the condition of the headliner, which originally had chrome crossbars suggesting the top mechanism of a convertible top.

Chevy’s famous small block V8 was still five years away. This Bel Air is fitted with an inline 216 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine that generated 92 horsepower. It has the standard 3-speed column shift manual transmission with 46,000 showing on the odometer, but nothing is mentioned if this is the original mileage. The seller shares “I did a basic tune-up, plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil and she fired right up. Runs very good with a new set of radial tires on original rims and trim.” So, what do you think? I can’t remember the last time I saw a survivor ’50 Chevy Bel Air driver like this.

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  1. RayT

    Reminds me of my first car, virtually identical except mine had a steel sunshade above the windshield and was painted Earl Scheib split-pea soup green. I’ll bet that paint job would have driven a paint-thickness meter (as so beloved by the BaT crowd) absolutely bonkers.. My grandfather bought the Chevy new, but didn’t drive it much.

    I wonder if this one has enough wear in the ignition lock that you can start it without the key? I understand that was a pretty common weakness in GM cars of that period. Also wonder if the shift linkage has worn to the point that it sometimes locks itself into second gear; that, too, seems to have been a common problem.

    Aside from those little foibles, my ’50 was virtually bulletproof, at least until my sister ran it out of oil and fried the engine. I should have reclaimed it and bolted in a later engine, but my folks scrapped it instead….

    Like 13
    • anav8r

      somewhere back when, I seem to remember at least one of the the family cars had a “lock-off-on” key switch. If you removed the key when in the “off” position, you could still return the ignition to on, push the start button and drive away.
      I could start my cousins ’49 Chevy with a gum wrapper about as fast as he could with a key, though.
      Car thieves ruined it for everyone.

      Like 13
      • Gil Davis Tercenio

        My ’52 Buick had the “Lock-On-Off” ignition switch.

        Like 0
      • Paul R

        My ‘62 Chevy ll and recently owned ‘62 Acadian had the same off or lock feature. You could also take the key out with the car running.
        Quite handy on cold winter mornings.
        There was also only one key for everything which was also convenient.
        No door lock knobs either, you pushed down on the handle to lock the door.
        You couldn’t lock yourself out of the car, had to use the key to lock the door from outside.
        All made good sense to me.

        Like 9
    • J Max

      GM cars had that issue throughout the 80s

      Like 1
  2. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    For some unidentifiable reason I’ve always taken a liking to this body style. But, there are some very obvious problems here. First whoever painted that front bumper did this car no favors. Now the bumper and guards must be rechromed at around $1200.00, then you have to tackle the interior, it’s a mess and will need a complete replacement. Then you get to the engine bay, wow! Clean, scrub, work til your fingers are worn raw. Next you can’t even be sure of the mechanical condition of anything on this car. Now none of this is too much for most gear heads, just don’t think you’re getting a car that needs nothing. You can get one already done at someone else’s expense for far less than this will cost in the end. Time is on your side though if you have plenty to spend. But no one can be sure of that.
    God bless America

    Like 12
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972Member

      Good points made, Johnmloghry. While this car has potential, you’ll have to throw a good bit of money at it to bring it up to a respectable level. If you can do the work yourself and would enjoy doing it, that would be the appeal here for some but if you have to farm out the work, you’d be better off finding one already done.

      Like 10
    • Steve Clinton

      For $5000, I’d leave it ‘as-is’ and drive the wheels off of it…and get plenty of attention at the donut shop.

      Like 19
      • Steve Clinton

        OOPS. Make that $8500. (and I’d STILL drive the wheels off of it!)

        Like 12
      • Larry D

        @Steve Clinton

        That might not be so easy to do depending on how bad those floorboards are.

        Like 3
    • John S Dressler

      Wouldn’t worry too much about the condition of the engine, drive train. That old 216 has the old canister style military oil filtration style oil filter. Had one on a 235 six cylinder 59 Chevy that with regular oil changes I drove to over 300,000 miles before I sold it.

      That engine will be just fine with regular oil changes.

      Like 5
  3. Steve Clinton

    Posted 5 days ago and still for sale? What am I missing here?

    Like 4
    • Steve Clinton

      Perhaps because it’s not a ‘chick magnet’.

      Like 9
    • CharlieMember

      Blind date in college showed up in a ’51 with same engine and PowerGlide. What a dog. The car, not her, we kissed a lot, she gave me mononucleosis. Aunt’s 51 4 door had a lot more umph.

      Like 3
  4. Tony Primo

    The hot ticket for these cars is to cut off the front suspension and replace it with a second generation Camaro subframe. Modern disc brakes, engine and cooling!

    Like 7
    • Dusty Stalz

      I agree but you’re probably about to get some hate from the boomer crowd here lol

      Like 12
      • Will P

        Tony P…that’s exactly the thing to do to these old rides. I put a first generation Camaro subframe under my ’37 Packard Flat Back, about 28 years ago, and I still couldn’t be happier. 1972 Chevy 350/350 combo, 308 Posi, 4 wheel disc brakes, sunroof, A.C. Makes the purists crazy. And Dusty S, I’m a boomer…74 years young.

        Like 11
      • Rodney - GSM

        Yo, don’t be hatin’ on the boomers. I think this is a blank canvas on which you can create anything you want. Restored classic or tear-your-eyes-out blown screamer. Your money, your choice.

        Like 16
  5. Robert White

    Beautiful automobile.

    I’m smitten again.


    Like 7
  6. Perry Brandt

    Exact same car I drove during my last year of High School in 1975. Sure do miss it.

    Like 5
  7. bobhess bobhessMember

    RayT… Couldn’t get any help in getting this picture of Dave Gibb and Ole Yeller 2 to you last week so here it is. Also, complete history on the car at http://www.oldyeller2.com. It is spelled “old” on the address. The picture was taken out of Classic Motorsports magazine. Got it in my picture file if you want it.


    Like 0
  8. Ed P

    I learned to drive stick on a Chevy sedan of this age.

    Like 4
    • JP

      I did also!

      Like 2
  9. Donald Levesque

    great car for a split manifold love that sound, Westbrook Maine

    Like 1
  10. Old Beach Guy

    Replace the anemic 216 with a much later model 250 or 292 happy half dozen. Add a split manifold and 200R4 transmission, a S-10 rear axle plus a front disc brake kit. Then go have a ball.

    Like 3
  11. Neil

    I owned this exact same car in ’69. The rockers were rusted out. We shoved 2 x 4 sections and fiberglass insulation in the rockers to give us a base for bondo. We had a guy that would shoot any car for $ 125.00. Looked decent when we were done. Sold it to a buddy from HS. He was a college student in law at the time. We were honest as to the crappy body work we’d done, and he was cool with that. His girlfriend, now wife, was crazy about the car. They ended up in the late ’70’s doing a rotisserie rebuild of the car. They still own it. Turned out beautiful. I had some corporate biz with him in the 90’s, and he bitched to me his wife forced him to park his new Jag outside so she could park the ol’ Chev inside. They had a 4 car garage at the time ! Ha !!!!

    Like 1
  12. Johnny

    Keep it original .Work as you go. At least it does have grease fitting and no electronic crap to cause alot of problems. I,d like to own it and drive it with pride.

    Like 6
  13. Mountainwoodie

    Must have been in a barn with a leaky roof and rats…..darn shame as its a good looking machine. The painted bumper and trashed interior and rusted engine compartment and trunk tells me that when you see it in person, the price you’d be willing to pay will drop like a rock. I think Hays is a university town so who knows whats been going on with his car. I’d sure like to know what dart board the seller is using to determine the selling price.

    Like 3
  14. stillrunners

    Nice car but…. These aren’t so rare in this condition – buddy bought one in the two tone green color and is having trouble moving it for less than half that price. These 2 dr hardtops pop up all the time – there’s a nice buildable one in our local salvage yard.

    This one isn’t as garage kept as thought – that dash is just too nice compared to the rest. Is that a ’09 sticker on the rear plate ?

    Like 0
  15. Vinnie G

    We had a 50 Chevy only ours was gray. My pop got it brand before I was born but, Thats the first car I remember. We had that car up un till 1965 when my dad got a new 1965 Impala. Remember it was still running good when pop traded it.

    Like 1

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