Revive The Dream? 1957 Chevy Bel Air

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When a project is abandoned, we usually assume it was because of lack of interest, money, technical ability or a combination of these things. Sadly, in this case it was the untimely passing of the owner. This Chevy was on its way to becoming his vision, whatever that might have been. He already had a fuel injected V8 and 700R4 transmission installed along with disc brakes. It has air conditioning, power steering, power brakes and more, but there are no surviving records of what he had done. The owner was apparently driving this and upgrading in steps before his passing. The museum is selling his project on consignment for the family and it’s on the museum website. It hasn’t been started in years, so the fuel system will need to be flushed. Their $14,000 asking price seems very optimistic.

The interior is mostly complete but needs to be completly redone. That’s an interesting set of gauges he had installed.

The body is straight with only surface rust. There is rust in the trunk under the mat, but it doesn’t seem to be all the way through.

The engine installation looks like it was professionaly done. Fuel injection and electronics have come a long way in the 15 years since this was done.

The underside appears rust free. It appears stock except for the disk brakes and fuel tank.

How would you make this dream your own? If you could get over the extra doors and purchase this at a reasonable price, what could you do with this car? You’d be starting with a solid, mostly rust free body with a fresh engine and tranny to revive. Could you live with that, uh, interesting instrument panel? Those wheels would have to go away. Even stock steel wheels would be better. How much would you do to the interior? I’m thinking you might get this running as a driver pretty much as it is and upgrade the interior as you go. With a bit of encouragement, could this be a fun sleeper? What is that engine, a 350? What do you think this Chevy might actually be worth? As always, I look forward to learning more about this car from our readers. If you’d like pictures of anything more please let me know and I’ll be glad to take them for you.

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Comments

  1. Fred

    Brings back a lot of memories of the 4 dr. HT I bought at the age of 15 for $150 in 1974. Missing the grillbar, jacked up a bit, copper color with a 265 4 barrel and powerglide. I turned my 1/4 mile cul de sac into a dragstrip, not sure why my parents let me or why the neighbors didn’t speak up. I hated fabric stores but visited with my mom anyway to get upholstery fabric that was really close to original. Patrolled the junkyards and spent an average of 75 cents for each piece of stainless trim I needed.Sold it about a year later for $250. Can’t believe I still have a photo of it.

  2. Fred

    This one…if it will actually post…

  3. Fred

    One more try….

  4. Fred

    …I give up.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Fred, I’m guessing you are trying to post a link to the photo? It works best if you have the photo on your computer and it’s less than 8 MB. I hope you try one more time as we’d all like to see your picture :-)

  5. Evan Allen

    ok, am I the only guy who likes wheel skirts? this one apparently is missing the passenger one and the driver’s one is a different color but I still like it. The engine compartment and fuel tank are fine, the dash is even ok, but I kinda hate the tail lights.

    • David Frank David Member

      Happily, there are lots more in the trunk and it doesn’t look like they are all driver’s side, are they?

      • Geoff (57 Super 88) S.

        May as well add a continental kit to finish the thing off…sheesh!

  6. crazydave

    I have to say I’m surprised the price is that low. (I’d have guessed low-to-mid 30’s) I have a ’57 210 4 dr HT in the same colors (Surf green over Highland green) and I have turned down offers much higher than THAT for mine. I am NOT in love with the gauge cluster, the steering wheel has gotta go and that carpet? (Yuck!)

    It has the correct – and much more rare (California assembly or Canadian-Built) 1 piece front bumper. I don’t mind the taillights (and if different lenses are wanted they are only a few bucks each)

    Go back to stock gauge cluster, do an upholstery kit and carpet (has to be black – they don’t make one that goes with Highland green) and its a driver. Polish and/or repaint and its a REALLY nice one! If I didn’t already have its (more or less) identical twin in my garage, I’d buy this one in a heartbeat!

    • Donnie

      your crazy

  7. Wayne

    Love spats ( wheel skirts to you ). Four doors are far better looking cars than two doors. And the roofline on the 56 and 57 pillarless Chevs can’t be beaten.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Wayne, Love spats??? You’re not from around here, are you. ( just love regional,or global names for stuff :)

  8. Howard A Member

    I must be 1 of like 7 people in the world that never really cared for the ’57 Chevy. Of the “Tri-5’s”, I liked the ’56 better. Somebody really sunk a piece of change into this car and looks like they used it. Aside from the gauges, which wouldn’t be that hard to return to stock, modernized the car and still retains the look. I’d go for a more sedate motor, but is pretty cool. If you want a “modern” ’57 Chevy, this is it.

    • Ed P

      I prefer the 56 Chevy best among the three. The 57 is my least desired model. Compared to the 57 Chrysler lineup, the Chevy’s looked stodgy.

  9. Wayne

    Howard A
    I’m from down under ( Australia ).

  10. RoughDiamond

    Seems like a great deal. I have loved the ’57 4 door HTs ever since I saw David Carradie driving one in the movie “Macon County Line” I believe it was. I think they look as good if not better than the 2 door ’57s. I could stare at the side profile of this ’57 all day long.

    • JW454

      Thunder and Lighting = 4 door hard top w/ Kate Jackson – Keith Carradine
      Macon County Line = 2 door hard top w/ Don Johnson – Kick Nolte

  11. Fred

    Jamie-

    Nope, I’m trying to post a file, not a link. I post lots of photos here but sometimes the photo “uploads” and it goes to a blank page. Then I navigate back, and there’s no photo. Like this.

  12. Fred

    ….and the photo is well under 8mb. It’s only 2.6mb.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Hmmm. Well, I’m definitely not the techy, that’s Josh and Jesse. Especially a Mac (no offence intended, I’m just a PC user). I’ll ask the guys to look into it. Thanks for letting us know…

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      What format is it in? If it’s a .png just change the extension to .jpg. Let me know if hat makes sense.

  13. Fred

    ….and when it happens, there is no posting photos that day. There’s also no edit button at all on the post. I’m on a Mac if that helps.

    • Dairymen

      “I’m on a Mac if that helps”
      No that’s not helping LOL.

      I’ve always been under the impression that macs are glorified boat anchors, but maybe that’s because I don’t know how to use them (and that might say more about me than a mac LOL )

  14. Fred

    …Let’s see if I can post a photo (Jpeg) 3 days later….

  15. Fred

    …Nope.

  16. Marty Member

    These gauges were probably used because they’re non-analog, to go with the computer-controlled drive train. There are now more attractive and/or authentic-looking ways to do this now.

    At least one of the reddish colored skirts in the trunk appears to be Cadillac.

    • Donald

      The gauge panel is an upgrade to provide what a newer large engine needs. It is not the latest version from Hampton Engineering. This gauge panel adds an oil pressure gauge and a Volt meter so you can really see what is going on like all the new cars have. It has a programmable Speedometer so you can recalibrate it for tire size and any gear ratio change by simply driving the car 2 miles. Since the Hydramatic transmission has different gear positions then the original Powerglide there are programmable LEDs to give you the position indication. The panel comes with a wiring harness with wires that match the color of the original Chevy wiring and has their designation printed every 6 inches for easy assembly.
      If you want a car that is dead stock, then you don’t want this but most of these cars have new engines and transmissions and really need the upgrade. Check out hamptonengineering.com if you have a modified Chevy and want the latest instruments in your car.

  17. David G

    If one looks really closely at the zoom-up images, this thing will need everything redone to do this car true justice. But that’s no biggie since all of the pieces for them are nearly available at every Home Depot, 7-11, or your local supermarket, haha!

    So instead of going there (and spending at least ANOTHER $14k on it in the restoration process), it’d be much more fun to simply run the wheels off of it as is, if you could stand its current configuration (which i couldn’t. Truly sad to see what’s become of what-was a neato 4dht here).

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