Questionable Survivor: 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air


We often see cars listed that are supposed to have very low miles but when you look closely you see a different story. This Chevy listed on eBay is claimed to have only 19,000 miles. It’s a survivor and a great 20 foot car, but it seems to have a lot more than 19,000 miles. It doesn’t seem to have been registered since 2009. Bidding is over $16,000 with reserve not met. That is a lot of money for a 4 door car, even a Tri-Five, especially if it has 119000 miles on it. Have a look and see what you think.


The carpet is worn away under the driver’s feet. The driver’s seat looks like it’s broken down a bit and ripped on the edge. This doesn’t happen in 20,000 miles. It has had some serious detail work. That door latch should at least have a bit of grease on it.


The trunk looks really clean, but wasn’t there a mat? I guess it wore out. Should the floor of the trunk be black? If so, would the blue paint be overspray from painting the trunk sides?


Is this the engine of a 19,000 mile car? It looks complete and original, but how could it get this bad in only 19,000 miles? Perhaps there is a reason for all the wear this car shows for so few miles, but I think not. The seller makes his claims based on service stickers, yet the earliest sticker is from 1964, when the car was 9 years old. Under “Oil” it has “11,333” written on it, but it looks like a number beginning with “6” was overwritten. By 1984, after 30 years, it was showing 16,000 miles, so likely the odometer had rolled over by then. I’m sure you’ll find other details that make this look like a 119,000 mile Chevy. It’s a nice survivor, but do you think anyone will be fooled? If so, how much would they will be willing to pay? What do you this this car is actually worth?


  1. Anthony Rodrigues

    Yes, highly unlikely is a 19,000 mile car… but it would still be pretty rare for a 55 to be wearing its original paint…. might be worth it IF the paint is all original…..

  2. RoughDiamond Member

    Sweet old ’55 for sure. Didn’t you just run this a few days ago though.

  3. RoughDiamond Member

    Well since I got no Edit option I will post again and say there is no way that is an original 19,000 mile car.

    • I smellarat

      219,000 carefully tended to…….but 210,000

  4. paul

    My engine is spotless on my 64 impala and bottom of seat is not ripped with 64k

  5. Chuck

    The underside of the trunk should be blue—something a buyer should ask about. Why would a low mileage car need repainting or a used deck lid installed ?

    • JCW Jr. Member

      possibly because of a collision?

    • RollerD

      I think the underside of the trunk might look white due to reflected light, just a guess it’s hard to tell.

  6. Yellowjax

    Twins? It was nice a few days ago and still is.

  7. angliagt

    That front license plate doesn’t look right,either.

  8. Mark

    We tend to forget that “back in the day” before it was a federal offence, the dealers themselves were often guilty of disconnecting or rolling back odometers to defraud potential buyers. There are plenty of stories of “brand new” demo cars with worn-out tires. If it means more money at the time of sale, there will always be an unscrupulous (or misinformed) seller willing to gild the lily for a naive or eager buyer. In pretty much any state in the US, once a car has reached a certain age, accurate odometer readings are no longer required. There is no Carfax for a 1955 anything. It’s fun to dream about a low-mileage cream puff, but unless the price is down there at “basic transportation” level, it’s better to let a careful and dispassionate examination of the facts (and the car) be your guide- especially when buying a car online.

  9. DrinkinGasoline

    It is a pretty car although I’m uneasy about the mileage and the price. It doesn’t surprise me that the carpet is worn on the driver’s side. The seller states that it was his aunt’s car and women wore heels more-so than not in the 50’s and 60’s, tearing up carpet quickly. My wife has a lot of “carpet shredders” in the closet :)

  10. Joe Howell

    Usually the paint will wear thru on the steering wheels of higher mileage Chevys of this era.. An article in Hemming’s Classic Cars told about GM’s bean counters skimping on the paint on Chevy steering wheels while other GM brands got better paint. Seems it was either 11 or 19 cents per car they saved. I remember seeing 50’s Chevys with worn thru wheels including my granddad’s 55 Chevy. On the other hand my uncle Butch wore thru the paint to the primer on his 53 Caddy’s door where he put his arm out the window but the steering wheel still wore it’s paint.

  11. cyclemikey

    It’s hard to know what to think here. It certainly doesn’t look to have 119K on it. I don’t know how many of you were around back in this car’s day, but 100K miles was an achievement, and at 119K, the car would be used up and mostly worn out, particularly the interior. Materials weren’t nearly as good as they are today, and it showed. Badly. Everywhere.

    On the other hand, as has been pointed out, there are a few issues that are strange for 19K. Paint in the trunk area. White trunk lid. Nasty engine compartment (although, to be fair, a LOT of that nastiness can happen with age) Yet, it doesn’t really look like a restoration, either.

    The seller is adamant about the originality, but then he calls that into question by saying that it still wears the original plates issued to the car. No way. Everyone got new plates in California, when they switched to the standard size black-on-yellow plates in 1956. He would have had to have kept the old big black ’51-’55 plates, and then re-registered them to the car when the YOM program came in much later. But that’s not what he says. So who knows?

  12. tje

    That chrome looks awfully good. – just saying…

  13. Dick in SoCal

    The mileage could be legit. My grandfather had a 1955 Bel Air more-door with V8 and auto that had less than 35K miles and looked much, much worse when it went to the shredder because of rust. El Cajon is a fairly small town that is now a suburb of San Diego. Tooling a few miles miles to the store once or so a week to go shopping is not unreasonable. I would want to inspect the car before bidding.

  14. Steve W

    Aside from the white trunk lid interior I believe there is overspray on the back of the oil breather.

  15. jim

    I bought a 1955 chevy 2dr belair from the original owner’s son 3 years ago with 19k miles. this was owned by a woman who’s husband did not drive.

    I was skeptical of the mileage but with the plastic covers still on the seats, and the oil change stickers on the door jamb, and the rubber pedal covers not worn, I was sold on it being the true mileage, even though the frame in the engine area has some road grime (accumulation oil and road film) – the stuff you scrape or power wash off.

    when I removed the drums to replace a sticky wheel cylinder it removed all doubt this was an original mileage car based on the extremely clean internal backing plates and interior condition of the brake area.

  16. Jay E.

    Highest bid was for $16,100, didn’t meet reserve. Wish it were mine.

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