Retired Racer: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop

According to the ad, this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was a 70’s street machine until it suffered a catastrophic engine failure while street racing.  The car was then parked in a shed for the last forty years.  The car currently resides in Apache Junction, Arizona and is found here on Craigslist with an asking price of $14,500.  The car still shows some of its racing modifications, but is missing some trim and other components.  Keep reading to see where those parts disappeared to.

You can see some of the racing modifications still in the engine bay.  The chrome valve covers are still present, but it’s hard to tell what damage has been done.  Was the street racing incident that retired this car as simple as a blown head gasket or was it a rod that let loose and threw parts through the oil pan?

As mentioned above, some of the trim pieces are missing.  According to the ad, during the cars residence in a storage shed, the shed was broken into and various parts of the car were stolen.  Among the missing pieces are the Bel Air side trim, the seat and carburetor.  I’m not sure why the thief would choose to take the side trim but not the bumpers or other trim pieces.  Also, if you are going to unbolt and steal the carburetor, why not take the valve covers as well?

The interior looks fairly solid.  I’m guessing the interior was stripped for racing since the only thing stolen was the seat.  The car still retains the hot rod steering wheel.  The floors seem to be in pretty good shape with some surface rust but no major issues.  The driver’s floorpassenger’s floor and rear floor pan all seem to look okay.  Overall this car looks like a pretty solid project.  It would be fun to turn it back into a period racer with a throw back theme to the 1970’s.  What do you think?  How would you build it?


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  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    It’s got potential but if you plan to fix and sell it’s too pricey IMO. If you want it for yourself then maybe. There’s still the chance of hidden rust etc to deal with and add to that paint, body work, interior and drivetrain and it will cost a lot to get it running.

  2. Chuck Cobb

    Maybe it backfired. Blew carb and radiator cap clear off!!!

  3. 8banger dave Member

    Seeing that that’s a single plane manifold, I wouldn’t steal it either.

  4. Classic Steel

    Luv no post cars!
    Offer 10k for 57!
    Buy the POS 69 freakpala listed here and drop the buckets recovered with 427 four speed and shifter if you can get it for six grand into this potential car!

    Paint it black and get some repro gold emblems on the car but leave the rear side alum off and a nice hot rod !

    Sub frame optional but go all disc
    Brakes on the car and a winner 🏆🏆🏆

    I had a 55 hardtop belair in HS!

    • Classic Steel

      Owner of freakpala get this and swap over drivetrain and sell the body to someone lunatic
      with the vin numbers for seven !

  5. Troy s

    Must have been one heck of a high winding screamer in its day, with that single plane high rise intake and god knows what for a camshaft. I wonder if it has a cracked head, that was a problem with the fuelie heads, or so I’ve been told. Stealing the valve covers would’ve been a waste of time really. Make a driver out of it, and none too pretty either, just BAD!😎

  6. Lemble

    Looks to be a solid car for the belly button lovers. Now how does a car rust under the side trim and have it match the rest of the panels while sitting in a barn? That sun sure must be bad out there in the Dry heat.

    • jdjonesdr

      Truth is stranger than fiction, my son….. lol

    • CanuckCarGuy

      Fauxtina? The trunk looks like rattle-can paint strokes?

      • JamestownMike

        That’s probably what’s left of the original paint strokes from 57′ weathering in the Arizona sun!

    • kman

      I didn’t read the part where it was said to be inside storage.

    • JamestownMike

      Looks to me, the side trim has been off the car and weathering outside for the past 40 years! Sounds like the side trim, seat and carb were stolen from a storage shed.

  7. JamestownMike

    About the only thing I miss about the Phoenix, Arizona area……..RUST FREE cars! I lived there 31 years. Gotta love the hole they cut out for the transmission. Looks like they drilled out a million holes and cut it out with a can opener!

  8. JamestownMike

    Some hack chopped into the firewall too! Seller states, “An area on the firewall needs fixed from a incorrect clutch linkage used”.

  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I had a 57 belaire 2 door hardtop white with red interior. In this case it would cost a fortune to make it original. All I would do is put in a crate motor and trans, make the brakes and steering safe, and add a seat make sure all the lights work and flip it to a new owner who could love it. IMO

  10. Derek

    All it needs is radiused rear wheel arches, a built big block, a Muncie rockcrusher, roll cage, a stacked blond, and me to be perfect.

  11. Steve R

    There is nothing about this car that indicates it was a race car. It looks like a typical 70’s hot rod, that might have been street raced, that would be nothing like a race car.

    Steve R

  12. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’m guessing that this car started life as a V8/Slip-n-slide and has had a crappy. backyard stick conversion. That was quite a common practice in the 1960s/70s.

    I like the previously-suggested idea of getting the Rat motor and four-speed out of the ’69 Impala and building a nice cruiser, albeit not at both sellers’ asking prices…

  13. Mike

    Looks ok from the pictures. First two places I would look into would be the condition of the rockers and of course what lies under the trunk lid. What lays ahead would be my decision to build for the street or strip, either or bucks are involved!!!

  14. mike

    14k plus for this bone? PASS

  15. Madbrit

    If it was a ’56, it would be in my garage by now……
    Just too expensive since just about all the chrome and stainless will need renewing or replacing, that plus a complete interior, the back seat was not in the car either.
    Maybe the exterior trim was already off the car when it was stolen? But with no door panels and a bit of experience, it doesn’t take long to remove it.

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