Parked For 40 Years: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Occasionally a classic car will appear on our desks at Barn Finds, and we ponder what the backstory could be. This 1957 Bel Air is a perfect example of that phenomenon because these have remained a staple of the classic scene for years. Good examples can sell for extraordinary prices, but the owner has just dragged this gem into the light of day after forty years in storage. I can’t imagine how someone could own a desirable vehicle like this and ignore it for decades. You have to think that there’s a story there somewhere. Anyway, now that the Bel Air is out of hiding, the owner has decided that it deserves to go to a new home. It is located in Douglas, Georgia, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. It has already accumulated an impressive forty-three bids, which have pushed the price beyond the reserve to $17,500. The listing suggests that someone could bypass the auction process by making an offer of $23,500. When you consider what is on offer, that has to look mighty tempting.

I don’t know where this Chevy has spent the past four decades, but judging by its appearance, I suspect the storage environment was pretty favorable. It appears to be finished in Imperial Ivory, and while the paint isn’t perfect, it would still be okay if someone wanted to return the car to active duty in a hurry. There are chips and marks scattered across the car, but there’s nothing that would demand immediate attention. It would benefit from a repaint in the future, but if you’re into instant gratification, the open road is beckoning. The owner doesn’t mention any dramas with rust, and I can’t see anything definite in the supplied photos. There are imperfections visible in some of the images, but it is impossible to determine whether these are the early signs of trouble or if they’re beads of water. The owner doesn’t mention any problems below the surface, and given how clean the exterior is, the floors and frame may be structurally sound. Most of the trim looks okay, although the bumpers would benefit from a trip to the platers. The glass is in good order, and the vintage Cragar wheels add the perfect finishing touch to the exterior.

The interior is one area of this Bel Air where the buyer won’t need to spend a dime. The seats and door trims are upholstered in the Code 669 combination of Red and Black, and the surfaces look flawless. There is no evidence of wear or physical damage, and the Red headliner is equally impressive. It appears that the carpet is in good order, there is no appreciable wear on the wheel, and the painted surfaces shine impressively. Aftermarket additions include a Hurst shifter, a Jensen radio/cassette player with speakers in the rear parcel tray, and a gauge cluster to monitor the health of things under the hood.

The owner supplies no engine photos, but he does provide some compelling details. The builder installed a 327ci V8 under the hood, and in its prime, it punched out an impressive 350hp. He bolted a three-speed manual transmission to this, but it isn’t clear whether he upgraded the steering, brakes, or suspension. Given its extended hibernation, it’s no surprise that the Chevy doesn’t currently run or drive. The owner identifies the brakes as one aspect that will require the buyer’s attention and that the fuel system will need a complete clean. What will be needed beyond that is difficult to tell, but kicking it into life may not be difficult if the engine turns freely. If the buyer is handy on the tools, performing the resuscitative work in a home workshop could be satisfying. Once it returns to the street, this Bel Air holds plenty of promise as a car that would shove you back in the seat when you hit the loud pedal.

I have come to accept the fact that there are people on this planet who possess greater levels of self-control than me. This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air demonstrates this fact clearly. There is no way that I could have a classic of this caliber parked in my workshop for four decades. I would have to get it out for a blast on the open road occasionally because that’s where this car was designed to be. I hope that someone does this, and I hope that it occurs sooner rather than later. It deserves to be active because four decades of inactivity is about forty years too many. Could you be the person who returns it to our roads?


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  1. Connecticut Mark

    I think it’s got to be worth the buy it now as it sits, unless I am missing something big.

    Like 12
  2. gaspumpchas

    Yea, Mark, If I was looking for a 57 this would be worth the BIN. Nice original, non hacked, southern car with a 327? think I’d also work thru the mechanicals and leave as is. Some really nice stuff seeing the light of day recently. Paying a little (or a lot) more than the average would be wise, if you can swing it! Good luck and happy motoring!

    Like 5
  3. Bob Mck Member

    The older I get the more I like the 57’s. It is amazing that this was stored away for 40 years.

    Like 6
  4. charlie Member

    Very notable is that the seat upholstery looks not only original, but in very good conditon. The material in these was not durable compared with what is being fitted today – my 20 year old Audi with leather showed no wear, even on the driver’s seat, my 16 year old Toyota with “cloth” shows only dirt with 160,000 miles. My ’56 Chevy’s cloth seats were toast at 40,000 miles. My mother vetoed “seat covers” from the dealer, she said, “Why should we save the seats for the next owner? Let’s enjoy them ourselves.” So seat covers went on at 40,000 miles in the front, and I wore out two more sets before it died at 14 of rust. So, this looks like a good deal!

    Like 3
  5. Russ Ashley

    Some body buy this car and get rid of those wheels and white letter tires please. That shifter handle can go too. I won’t be buying it so that’s just a couple of the things that I would do if I did. Hope it goes to a good home.

    Like 5
  6. Jerry hall

    I would love to have it . Dream car is a 57 bel air

  7. A.G.

    This car started out with a six. The gear selection quadrant on the speedometer suggests a Powerglide or Turboglide was the buyer’s transmission of choice. It’s nice to see the steering column collar has had the shifter lever mount removed. I have no idea about what is strapped to the collar.

    Both the trunk lid and the hood appear to have alignment issues. It might just be my eyes and the images. It’s almost impossible to check panel gaps when every image of the exterior was taken at an angle. With no images of the engine, the trunk’s interior or the car’s underside, any interest is lost. Besides the south GA city of Douglas is almost two hours from I-75.

    Like 1
    • Headturner

      A.G. the V on the hood and trunk signify a V-8, unless they were added after the fact. Seems like a pretty decent price but I am a 150 fan.

      • A.G.

        The VIN is C57K176953 which indicates a six. If it was an eight the VIN would be VC57K176953.

        The emblems may have been added or the hood came from a V8 car.

  8. Camaro Joe


    The tires and wheels are the way a lot of those cars looked in the 1970’s, so for me it’s a nostalgia thing. My 57 still has the 14 x 7 ET mags and G60x14 tires that I bought in 1976. I still like the look, but I’m stuck in the 70’s. If I did it today, I’d put Rally wheels on it. They’re easier to take care of. In my 20’s, polishing mag wheels was a good reason to drink beer. 45 years later, that isn’t happening.

    The tires still have 80% tread and have never sat outside . . . . but I’m thinking they should be replaced before I drive it out of town. But that hasn’t happened in a while.

    Like 1
    • Russ Ashley

      Joe, you are right about those things being a 60’s and 70’s thing but fads pass and begin to just look old, or even plain wrong to me. I never did like those wheels like that, and white letter tires just don’t look like they belong on that car. I’m 80 now and I find that my taste in fifties cars is turning back to a more original look. It’s your car so the only person you need to please is your self, just please don’t put 30’s with rubber band tires on it.

  9. Ricardo Ventura

    With 3-speed manual and 350 hp, you should do 1\4 of a mile in first gear.
    And just make all the components working, clean, polish and walk.
    A jewel.

  10. charlie Member

    When is a ’57 Chevy no longer a ’57 Chevy and becomes a restomod? Not that there is anything wrong with this one, but full disclosure would be nice. My ’39 MGSA had a Hudson Super 6 engine, transmission, and overdrive, Buick sealed beam headlights, a White truck generator, Sears tires, one front fender from a not quite matching MG, a hand made right rear fender and panel below the trunk opening, and Ford pickup truck taillights. But it was still a ’39 MGSA on the title and registration, but I bought it knowing all of the modifications and sold it telling the buyer who was thinking of putting in a MOPAR slant 6, much lighter than the Hudson, and easy to get parts.

  11. larry morgan

    Sorry the wheels are perfect for this car.

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