One-Of-A-Kind: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Amino!

It’s hard to imagine what could motivate someone to do this much wonderful work on the car of his or her dreams, then abandon the project when the end was in sight. But that’s what happened with this custom 1957 Chevy pickup, converted from a 210 station wagon. It’s for sale here on eBay with a high bid of $21,000. And that’s for a car with $60,000 already invested. “The work is very nearly complete,” the owner says.

This is a beautiful, professional build. The owner took his 210 Wagon and grafted on the roof from a ’59 El Camino. It looks stock, though you can easily see the ’59 roofline. The custom tailgate is a work of art and, unlike in some builds of this type, folds down on sturdy-looking hinges.


The body, with gorgeous new red paint (and a white roof), is only the start. This car is to go, as well as to show. Under the hood is a 350-cubic-inch roller cam engine built by White Performance with Hilborn fuel injection. That’s connected to a rebuilt Super Duty 700R4 automatic transmission, a four-link nine-inch positraction rear end with 5.51 gears and four-wheel disc brakes. It’s a pity the engine photos are all blurry, but here’s the best one.

The interior is reportedly new, with a reupholstered split bench seat from a two-door ’57 Chevy, tilt steering column with new 15-inch wheel, power windows, a rebuilt dash cluster, new Nomad dash trim, new carpet, reproduction Wonderbar radio (with FM) and even a new quartz clock. The door panels are off, and there are dangling wires to indicate the interior work isn’t done yet. The car sits on American Racing Hopster wheels with new Falken tires.

“I just don’t have time to complete the work,” the owner says. “The engine runs beautifully,” but “it’s not quite ready to drive yet.” It shouldn’t take much to finish this baby off. Some of what’s left includes massaging the paint, which has some minor flaws and a clear coat that needs to be sanded and buffed. Some photos show the glass in, others out but we’re guessing it’s out now. The parts stash includes a 1959 El Camino rear window that’s ready to be installed.

The long list of custom and new parts on this car ends with “too much to list,” and in this case, it’s probably not hyperbole. This build was a labor of love, and the owner went all-out. It’s a pity that, as John Lennon put it, life happened to him (or her) while he (or she) was busy making other plans.


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  1. PaulG

    Looks like quite the build, can’t agree with every decision, but what I really don’t understand is the 5:51 rear gear?!

    Like 11
    • elrod

      Yeah, that gear would never make it to the first dyno run…

      Like 2
    • Skid

      I doubt that’s the gears in it. He says 9” diff in the opening description and also lists it as a 1999 S-10 posi diff. Either way gears can be changed. He did a great job on it and maybe medical, financial, or whatever issues forced him to sell. Sure hope he can see the completed project no matter who owns it.

      Like 4

        what does urs look like???? every one has the right to build what they like , not what u like!! to each their own!!!!!!!

  2. TimM

    I can’t see cutting any tri 5 Chevy up!!! Such an iconic American car getting hacked like this is a crime!!

    Like 7
    • Kenny

      Tri-5 Chevys are like belly buttons. Everybody’s got one. They made like- a trillion of ’em. I for one am flat tired of seeing them at every single car show and auction, throngs of them.
      This one, on the other hand, was made from an ordinary, proletarian station wagon, and I salute the builder for doing something really different, and to a high degree, with this car.
      Now chopping up a rare car like a Studebaker Golden Hawk or similar, of which only a few hundred remain, would seem a crime.But a ’57 Chevy Wagon? Not so much.

      Like 7
  3. elrod

    Wow. Well worth current price IMO. Great project!

    Like 5
  4. Fred Alexander

    Butchered a 57 Chevy wagon – – ?
    I think at around 28 to 30 is as high as this will go – – – $ 60K+ invested – – – being a 55 – 57 Chevy and Pontic guy I think the money would have been better spent doing a RestoMod = = = but to each his own
    BTW One Of A Kind?
    Back in about 1985(ish) a 57 very similar to this one turned up at a FIFTY 567 CLUB Western Canadian Meet – – – owned by a fellow in Calgary.
    It was running a 6 cyl. with some mods – – the idea of modifying like this isn’t new there are a few around, and yes one of a kind because of the build specs.
    Engine blew up at the SIR drag strip – – – never saw or heard of the car again.
    Anyway – – to each his own I like the effort but wouldn’t buy it as it’s not my style so to say.

    Like 1
  5. Bob S

    I like the concept, and I like the looks of the workmanship. I wouldn’t mind owning that, particularly at that price. I would have a difficult time if the owner had decided to build this from something rare like a Nomad, but using a 210 to build something that is as well done as this doesn’t bother me at all.
    It is always difficult to know if there are problems hidden in an extensive build like this one, but everything seems to have been well thought out.
    I wonder about the rear end ratio. I wonder if he was thinking of building a gasser at some point in the build. A ratio that tall wouldn’t be helped much by having the overdrive feature in the 700R4. I ran a 4.57 rear end with an overdrive, and to me, that is about the limit for any amount of cruising. Now I am running 3.73 gears with a TH400 and an overdrive, and that is the best of both worlds.
    I hope he can recover his costs from this, I have my doubts that he will.

    Like 11
  6. Doc

    Building El Camino variants… just blah. Next. Great effort and some cool items on this one, but meh, just another truckster.

    Like 1
  7. mk

    cool biuld. I like it!

    Like 2
  8. local_sheriff

    I really enjoy to see a well-built El Anything and I’ll first hand admit I personally don’t have anywhere near the abilities to craft something like this.

    Of the many El- we’ve seen this one is near perfect, but still proves there are SEVERAL visual and practical details to consider before yanking out the angle grinder. Backlight solution – which is were most builders fail – is very clever, however when I look at it from the rear I think the 210 tailgate doesn’t fit in the theme – a Nomad tailgate with lesser angle would probably correspond better with its C-pillars. Which of course means EVEN MORE slicing!

    Considering the potential value of any longroof in the market, perhaps TriFives in particular, one must REALLY want an El Anything to start such a project. Unless the final result looks 110% OE I think anyone would be hard pressed to sell such an El- for more than a similarly restored uncut wagon

    Like 2
  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Looks like a great start. The roof looks goofy to me, maybe better looking with the glass in.

    Like 2
  10. Jay E.

    The script should say BelCamino. I like it. But then I like the shortys too. 21K for blurry photos? A teenager can take good photos with a smart phone, repost it, the car is greatly diminished by the crappy presentation. Id pass on the fuzzy photos alone.

    Like 2
  11. Dusty Rider

    Lose the hood! Otherwise, it looks OK, the rear window installed will fill the top in and it will look much better imho.

    Like 3
    • mk

      I would normally agree but in this case with the engine set up the hood is functional.

      Like 1
  12. 8banger dave Member

    Not such a crime to cut up a rusty old wagon. Heck, a close by neighbor of ours has a ‘57 wagon that has been returning to the ground in his back yard for some 25 years now…

    Like 2
  13. Miguel

    I am more upset he cut the roof off a 1959 El Camino than anything he did to a 1957 Chevy, of which there are tens of thousands out there.

    Like 5

    Wasn’t that long ago nobody gave a 4 door wagon a second look. Bet this conversion started back then. A 210 is a good starting point. Nobody chopped up a Nomad or Belair.

    Like 4
  15. fran

    Seems odd to go that far and stop.

    Like 3
  16. canadainmarkseh Member

    The el cameno’s are pretty useless ass a truck that part or his build is ok for a novelty car. The execution is very well done except the back window i would have used the back window out of the wagon parts

  17. JOHN Member

    I think this is the best 57 El Camino conversion I have seen, and I have seen a lot. Where they usually fail visually is the back window. I think this is the best executed concept yet. The extended roof over the back window works with the tail fins for me! Lose the cowl hood… while I like them on the Camaro and Chevelles, OEM that is, the look is just played out. I agree that the El Camino is relatively useless as a truck, I don’t haul anything in the bed of mine, I have a real truck for truck duties!

    Like 4
  18. Wayne from Oz

    I can’t see the custom tailgate as a work of art, it’s the one from the original station waggon. I agree the roof look goofy. It’s too short and so are the doors. I also agree ditch the bonnet.

    Like 1
  19. Brakeservo

    I think I know why he stopped working on it – glass! Where you gonna get some that fits??

    At least he’s not making a bogus claim about this being a factory prototype, something all to often said about these!

    • local_sheriff

      Builder has utilized a ’59 Elky roof and probably planned on installing the Elky’s glass also. To solve any difference in width I’d suggest cutting the Elky glass in three leaving the center portion largest.

      With custom made chromed thin pillars seperating the panes you pick up the Nomad theme and could possibly also incorporate a crank-down center window

  20. Clay Bryant

    It’s a pity that the pic of the engine is blurry? Tell ya’ what they look like if you haven’t seen one and we’ll start at the top (air cleaner) and go to the bottom (oil pan) Never seen one before, glad your eye transplant worked out. How bad can it get? At every car auction as the car crosses the block, they raise the hood on stage ruining the visual lines of the car. Reminds me of a car sitting along side the road. Of course if you stayed at the bar too long, maybe you do drive your car around with the hood up. They should have a short musical interlude each time on stage of “You Raise Me Up”…………..

  21. firefirefire

    I’d buy it.

  22. Arthur

    There is a 57 Chevy conversion to an El Camino at Old Car City in Georgia. I came across it while touring their yard last spring. I doubt it was done with the same design, but it was impressive even though it was in a state of decay.

  23. Ricker

    Do any of you guys complaining about photo quality click the link to go see the actual auction page?

    There are several more good shots of the engine – and plenty more – to be seen there.
    This sold quite cheaply at $22,100, unless he pulled the auction after 5 bids and sold it locally (which he reserved the right to do). Either way, I am sure somebody got a bargain here! The drivetrain and additional parts were worth that reflected price.

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