Live Auctions

Owned Since ’61! 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan

A gentleman by the name of “Papa Jim” purchased this 1957 Bel Air in 1961 and drove it on a regular basis before parking it about 10-years-ago. Papa Jim has recently passed away, but the Bel Air has now been revived and is set to go to a new home. It is a solid and complete car that has been fitted with a few rare options. It will need relatively little work to return it to its absolute best, and once this work has been completed, someone will find themselves owning a pretty stunning classic. The ’57 is located in Sammamish, Washington, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. All you need to do is hand the owner $10,000, and the Bel Air can be all yours. The Bel Air was actually referred to us by two separate Barn Finders, so a big thank you must go out to Ikey H and David A for referring the car through to us.

When the seller dragged the Bel Air out of storage, one of the first things that he did was to remove the carpet. This was pretty dry and rotten, and removing it revealed the only rust in the vehicle. There are a couple of holes in the front floor near the firewall, and it sounds like these could be repaired with patches. The panels display no obvious issues, while the color combination of Dusk Pearl and Imperial Ivory makes for an attractive appearance. The Chevy is outfitted with tinted glass, and this all appears to be very nice. All of the exterior trim and chrome is present, and while it looks fine for a daily driver, the seller suggests that a perfectionist might want to send some pieces to the plater.

After sitting for 10-years, the Bel Air required some work to return it to a roadworthy state. The 283ci V8 was given a thorough check, while the plugs were pulled and some lubrication was applied, and a new battery was fitted. The engine fired right up, and the seller proceeded to take the car for a spin around the block. The Powerglide transmission appeared to be slipping, so this was pulled and treated to a $1,500 rebuild, including a new torque converter. The only thing left to do is attend to the kick-down, and all will be as right as rain. The seller believes that the vehicle is a numbers-matching car, and there is some evidence of the engine receiving a rebuild at some point. As well as the 283 and the Powerglide, the Bel Air rolled off the line fitted with power steering and power brakes.

The interior of the ’57 is the area that will require the majority of the work if the next owner wishes to return it to its best. Trimmed in Silver and Black, the seats look pretty reasonable. There is a seam separation on the rear of the front seat, but it looks repairable. The door trims are looking quite dilapidated and will either require new upholstery, or complete replacement. With the original carpet crumbling to dust, a new carpet set will also need to go onto the shopping list. Of course, perfectionists might want to bite the bullet and invest in a complete trim kit to ensure color uniformity. These kits are readily available, and a high-quality one in the correct colors and pattern will cost around $1,800. Look at it this way, if you were to buy the ’57, you’ve already saved the money on the transmission rebuild. Why not spend that windfall on the interior? The dash looks to be in good condition, with a couple of small dings on the metal trim all there is to potentially address. Where the Bel Air becomes really interesting is when you consider the options that it was fitted with. As well as tinted glass, the car is outfitted with power windows, along with a power front seat and power locks. That isn’t that rare on a Bel Air, but it is rare enough to warrant a mention. More unusual is the fitting of an Autronic headlight dimmer. I honestly can’t recall seeing this option fitted to a ’57 Bel Air before, so that is one feature that makes this an unusual vehicle.

The ’57 Bel Air is a true American icon, and these are a car that has commanded respectable prices for decades. There will be people who will read this article and say that as a ’57, it has too many doors. That is a fair opinion, but for an enthusiast with a family, this appears to be a very practical vehicle. It is also in great condition and features a few interesting and unusual options. That’s why I think that someone will snap it up pretty quickly.


  1. Arthell64 Member

    Looks like a nice driver.

    Like 3
  2. Jack M.

    I’ve always wondered how two Barn Find readers can send in the same tip Adam. I will always get a reply back telling me that the link has already been submitted.

    Like 3
  3. Arby

    Not sure about now, but when these came out they were referred to as a “4 door hardtop”. 4 door sedan had the “B” pillar and framed door glass.

    Like 25
    • Bry593

      Actually, this a “sports sedan”.

      Like 6
      • William

        I owned a Four Door “HARDTOP” Bel Air, just like this! One owner, till we sold her in 88. Except it was turqoise with ivory white top with dealer added twin antenna’s on rear fenders.283 V-8, 4 barrel, dual exhaust, power glide, power brakes, vinal headliner, tons of chrome, everything! Even a Wonder Bar option on the AM radio. No power windows though. A SEDAN has the post at B pillar. But you could still get it with Bel Air trim. :-)

        Like 2
  4. Benjy58

    Like wind noise?. Buy it.

    Like 2
    • losgatos_dale

      ever drive one? ;-)

      Like 1
  5. Gordon

    I believe Chevy referred to it as a Sports Sedan.

    Like 5
  6. Maestro1 Member

    For folks like me who get upset over convertible prices and like the practicality of 4 doors without regard to market values, this model is always a good find. About wind noise: I have a Buick with the same problem and fixed it using Steele Rubber. It’s quiet now, with the exception of severe cross winds.

    Like 9
  7. CCFisher

    I don’t believe power door locks were a Chevrolet option until the late 1960s.

    Like 2
    • A.G.

      Power windows were available as option 426 for 1957 passenger vehicle models 2100-2400.

      Like 1
      • CCFisher

        But power *door locks* were not.

        Like 4
  8. Will Fox

    One correction. This car CANNOT have power door locks. Those were exclusive to Cadillac only in 1957, and did not trickle down to the lesser models until 1959.

    Like 5
    • Chuck

      It didn’t “trickle down” to Chevy until 69.

  9. Ken

    In my opinion , in this case 4 doors? No problem.If the history is verifiable, what a better advantage…most have an untold amount of thinks a lot of potential here….

    Like 7
  10. A.G.

    Hit the Post button before adding CCFisher is correct about power locks.

  11. M.Balmer Member

    Have to agree with Ken,I personally don’t mind a 4 door. I know a lot of car enthusiasts look down on the “more doors ” but I think each classic car should be appreciated on its own merits. That’s my 2 cents worth but I only have a nickel, keep the change. 😄😷

    Like 22
    • David radcliff

      My sentiments exactly!

      Like 4
    • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

      Personally, for ’57 Chevys, I prefer the 4 door hardtop ( sport sedan) to the 2 door hardtops. I just like the proportions and the look of the c pillar. In high school I already had 3 ’55 Chevy 2 Dr sedans but the shop I worked for still had a couple of open spots in the back row. A high school friend’s grandfather had a nice Sierra gold/Adobe beige sport sedan parked behind the garage. 283 powerglide, factory spinner hubcaps and dual rear antennas. He was no longer driving so I thought the $400 I offered him was pretty fair, after all it was a 4 dr. He declined and it sat there for at least a couple more years. It disappeared while I was away in college. This was in 1974-76. Probably Ok, I filled that back row for a few years with the orphan cars that followed me home.

  12. Mark C

    I’m guessing the seller popped out the driver’s side taillight lens when he was trying to figure out the wiring? Nice ride, really. I don’t get the 4 door hate and I think this car looks pretty slick.

    Like 8
  13. Ann Delorey

    4 door hard top not sedan!!

    Like 9
  14. GMoparman

    Has the perfect number of doors.

    Like 8
  15. John

    Rip jim

    Like 2
  16. Fred W

    I still think these look light years better than the ’57 post sedan, and I did back in ’74, when I bought a 4 door HT in decent shape for the astronomical sum of $150. It was easy to find parts for since there was no demand for used 4 doors, the junkyards were full and trim pieces were 75 cents. I went to the fabric store (which I otherwise hated) and bought black fabric very close to the original style and re-did the door cards. Even with a 283 and powerglide, the cherry bomb mufflers told the neighbors to look out, I was coming.

    Like 3
  17. Johnny

    Old car or old truck–I don,t care if it has 4 doors, I like it and if I owned it. I,d be proud to drive it. I like the hard-top. I have a 57 Oldsmobile 4 door hard-top and it suits me and makes me happy. Even if its not running. I,m happy with it. This old 57 is really in nice shape for its age. I know some model 57 women who still looks nice for their age .

    Like 9
  18. Bob Mck Member

    The wonderful thing about 4 doors is that someone like me can afford it. Plus my friends are getting older and it is almost impossible for them to get in the back of a 2 door. This is a nice find and you can find any part needed in a catalog. Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 6
  19. Jeff

    If this was a two (2) door model I would be all over it like Papa Boner.

  20. charlie Member

    They drive well for 1957. They are solid. There are plenty of “perfect” ones around – how many does the world need after all? So, buy this and drive it. Put in seat belts and a dual master cylinder, and take it to Cars and Coffee if you are lucky enough to have one nearby.

    Like 5
  21. mainlymuscle

    Obviously,I’d prefer a 2 door HT ,which would make this a 25k car minimum,or better still,a Nomad at TWICE that !
    A 4 Door Hardtop (regardless of your nomenclature) isn’t that bad on Tri-fives.
    I think this is a steal,as the floorboards are a pretty easy fix by themselves.
    I also really like the seller,this should be gone by Easter morning-good color for it too !

  22. canadainmarkseh

    I think that part of the problem with 4 door cars is frumpy looking roof line. This not the case with the 4 door hard tops. The only concern I have is if your ever T boned the other guys car is coming in and your dead. The truth is any of these old cars are death traps to some degree when hit by a modern car. I’m still on a side car motorcycle so if I’m T boned I’ll also be dead.

  23. Gerald Burgess

    Hello Adam
    I live out in New Zealand
    I am very interested in the purchase of this car.
    Can you help me please.
    Gerald Burgess
    email should be on Barn find file.

  24. BR

    Body choices for 1957 included:

    2- and 4-door sedans (identified by the “posts” between door windows)
    2-door “Sport Coupe” (a two-door hardtop – the car has no post between the front and back window when the windows are lowered)
    “Sport Sedan” (a 4-door hardtop)
    2-door Utility Sedan, a two-door sedan with a package shelf instead of a rear seat……………..

  25. Mountainwoodie

    A 4 door hardtop is the exception to the Rule of 2 Doors…..come to think of it, most 4 door hardtops ( Olds etc) of the Fifties would be an exception to that Rule.

    Sweet….and gone………………………

  26. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    My next door neighbor when I lived in a townhouse had 2 four door ’55 Chevys. One was his “owned by a little old lady” and was named after her, with original gray paint, and the other was his maroon and white “hot rod” with a 350. Neither were in terrific shape, but got regular use.

    He knew that they were never going to be worth much because of the 4 doors, but he loved those cars and was very proud of them.

    Like 1
  27. linda c

    I had one just like that. It was my first real car. It had quite a story. In about 1968 my husband was driving it and a woman in a hurry hit him on the front left and demolished the front end. We pulled it into our drive, front facing the street. Eventually a guy stopped and asked if we would like to buy a frontend for it. He sold it to us for $20. It even was the same color!! This is just one story about that car. I have a couple more but this enough for now. I sure loved that car!

    Like 1

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