Rough Rag-Top! 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Project

This Marshfield, Missouri classic may well have spent some years in a marshy field. If the drop-top on this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible doesn’t provide enough fresh air, the flow-through floorboards will. Much of the lower metal is missing or rusty thanks to what looks like a corrosion sandwich:  moisture attacking from above and below. The fabulous ’57 Chevy may have enjoyed its high point some years ago, but they still top many enthusiasts’ wish lists. Consider as evidence bids over $10,000 for this one here on eBay.

Offered with clear title and largely complete, this Chevy’s top-level Bel Air trim and convertible top add interest and value, though it will be difficult to embark on a professional restoration with profit in mind.

Amazingly this once-beautiful ride avoided being thoroughly stripped. However it has lost some parts, including the hood emblem, steering wheel horn trim, and radio. The completely disintegrated rocker panel allows easy access for neighborhood cats and vermin. What might be the original interior is shot, but may provide patterns for the replacements. Many parts are available for this car. In fact you could probably build one entirely from new parts!

The original engine is gone, and a nondescript and non-functional replacement awaits recussitation. Like the rest of the car it looks fairly complete. The collector with two or more restored cars will say this one is too far gone, and recommend paying for one in better condition. The enthusiast who’s wanted one for ten or more years and has plenty of free time, a modest budget, and a garage-full of tools may weigh the value of this Bel Air differently. What’s it worth to you?

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Comments

  1. TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

    Great underbody pictures for once! Going to need some major frame repair. Awesome find. New buyer will certainly have their hands full.

    Like 2
  2. Danny Martin

    Jesus. Even calling this heap of iron oxide a “car” seems charitable, considering it’d almost certainly disintegrate when put on a lift. What about this can possibly be driving the price past 10K? Someone help me here.

    Like 15
    • mark houseman

      Let’s leave Jesus out of this! He had nothing to do with this car, only dieing for you…..

      Like 1
  3. Walter

    Help me too!

    Like 8
  4. Bill M

    A local dentist dropped one like this off at my Dads shop with even less metal, no interior, and no engine. By the time it left he had spent over 20 grand just for the frame resto and floor/trunk pan replacement roller. That was back in the 80’s. I can’t imagine what it would be today. I don’t remember what the dentist paid for the carcass, but it was in the 5 figures range.

    Like 2
    • Neil

      Wow… pretty odd. In the ’80’s the dentist should have been able to find a fully restored ’57 Bel Air for the beginning price of what your Dad did. ( 20 K ) Not to include the initial 5 figures.Then, interior, engine, wiring, and on and on. Man, that dentist wasn’t too bright. He ended up putting a million bucks into a car he could have bought for less than 20 K in ‘ 80. Guess some folks have more money than brains, huh ?

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Danny, Walter, answer: they have much more discretionary income than we do… and probably a lot more extra time to spend it. Have done a couple of cars this bad but that was back when I thought I was going to live forever.

    Like 3
  6. Dovi65

    The current collector/classic car market continues to astound me.
    Is a 57 Chevy convertible VIN tag REALLY worth $10K? A rotted out shell of a 70’s ‘Cuda worth $20K?
    I’m guessing most of the insanity is due to sellers suffering from “Mecum/Barrett-Jackson Syndrome”
    It seems the days of finding a decent fixer-upper for a realistic price are gone

    Like 11
  7. karl

    Reading the auction, it states that the sellers are ” Danchuk and Goldenstar restoration parts dealers and will sell you parts at highly discounted prices.” . Like that rotted 70 Boss 302 from last week , its a aftermarket parts dealer selling a junker , hoping the buyer will buy the restoration parts from him

    Like 2
  8. Dave Mika Member

    At any rate, what’s that thing clomped on the back of the L valve cover?

    • Jeff D

      It looks like a desirable electric windshield wiper. Doubtful to be working, but is there.

    • Daral

      Wiper motor not quite where it belongs

  9. Sleevee Member

    With now 2 1/2 years of experience working on an El Paso ’57 Bel Air Sport Coupe, I can wince at the pictures of the street-side of this convertible and know with great certainty what effort will be involved in removing from this car the 1957-2019 effects of OMG wear from general aging and environmental damage.

    Both inner rocker panels, likely every floor support structure, most of the floor from firewall to rear bumper and a gee-whiz goodly amount of the once shiny sheet metal of the car will have to be “lovingly” replaced. Even after two-and-a-half years, I am only now just now clearing out inner rocker panels and floor supports to get to debris and surface rust on the concealed portion of the floor and supports. The work in 2019 has involved many hours of Michaelangelo-style chipping (undercoating by the lb.) and drilling out the contact welds to disassemble welded parts.

    Back in 1975, we braised and filled (with Bondo and lead) and called it a restoration. (My project was an eight year old MGB then.) Now restoration begins inside a squeaky clean chassis and out, and proper sheet metal welding with absolutely NO rust and debris covered up.

    This convertible might be worth $2,550 for old time’s sake. The entire lower 40% of the car represents 75% of the work. Wow.

    Like 1
  10. Tort Member

    When you replace the frame, floor, all the sheet metal, interior, top, rebuild the motor if it can be and a paint job you’ll have a nice car.

    Like 1
  11. Howard

    Us Michigan guys used to joke The rocker panels are rusty…….all the way to the door handles. And I’ve even had a door handle come off in my hand. But I’ve NEVER seen one this far gone. You couldn’t give this one to me let alone get me to pay ten grand for it.

    Like 1
  12. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Might be some valuable parts left on this one, but what it would cost for restoration is prohibitive. There are some in much better drivable condition available that would not leave you so far upside down. Nevertheless people will do what they want and suffer the consequences later on. After all anyone buying a new car knows going in their going to lose money through de-valuation. Live and let live.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  13. TimM

    It saddens me that no one had the foresight to pull this car out of the field put it up on blocks and maybe you would still have a “car” it’s not a car any longer it’s a part of a car!!!

  14. Mike

    Anyone that buys this for more than scrap obviously has more money than brains! Don’t get me wrong, I love old vehicles, but let’s get serious here. This is nothing special. Even if it turns out to be an original fuelie, it’s not anymore. There’s basically nothing left of it. If someone is thinking “resto-mod”, they’d be MUCH better off spending the money on an aftermarket chassis and body then proceeding from that point. Yes, these days, you certainly can build a brand new tri-five Chevy (along with many other vehicles) from the ground up if you have deep enough pockets and the right catalogs. Unfortunately, this one just isn’t worth saving.

    Like 1

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