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Stored 33 Years: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

More than 63 years after the last one rolled off the assembly line, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is still considered a car for the ages. It’s styling and performance make it a car that you could envision Elvis or Marilyn Monroe driving when it was new. And it may be one of the most recognizable American cars ever made. Perhaps the seller of this ‘57 Bel Air felt that way, having squirreled his away in a garage back in 1987. With apparent minimal rust, it doesn’t look as though it would be a difficult restoration. Dallas, Texas is its locale, and the car is available here on craigslist for $18,900. Our pal Ikey Heyman has done it again in finding this tip for us!

The Bel Air name was first used by Chevy on a 2-door sport coupe in 1950. By 1953, the car was promoted to premium status across all body styles and would hold on to that throne until the Impala came along in 1958-59. The whole Chevy line-up was restyled in 1955 and the sleek flair of the Bel Air would be dubbed “motoramic” by the trade press.  The three-year cycle would be quite popular, especially the 1957 models which are the most sought of model years today. Maybe it’s the dual spears on the hood that appeal to folks or the tastefully done fins on the rear that make the car timeless. The 2-door sport coupe, like the seller’s car, is the one to have, representing almost one out of every four Bel Airs made in 1957 (168,000 coupes vs. 720,000 total production).

We don’t know how long the seller has owned this 1957 Bel Air, but we’re guessing at least 33 years. That was when he says the car was last driven and it’s been in a garage ever since. We’re told the car has minimal rust, but none of the photos seem to display any, suggesting a relatively easy restoration if there is such a thing. We believe the Bel Air was originally painted Surf Green, which was a beautiful color on these cars. Someone decided it should be red instead and didn’t make a lot of effort to camouflage the color change. The chrome and aluminum bits all seem to be there and may only be tarnished.

The interior looks to be fairly solid and perhaps may even be original material. The odometer reflects less than 16,000 miles, but since the seller doesn’t make a big deal out of that, we’ll assume it’s not original mileage. You may get by with only changing out the floor coverings, but we don’t get to see what the headliner looks like and those were known to get dingy with age.

Assuming its original, the V-8 engine under the hood should be the 283 cubic inch motor from its first use year in production (an evolution of the 265). The transmission is a Powerglide, evident from the P-D-N-L-R indicators on the dash (which in later years would be rearranged as P-R-N-D-L). There is no mention if the car actually runs, so given its time in captivity, we’ll assume not. And yet, the whitewall tires on the car are brand new, which means the seller went to the trouble of taking the wheels off the car at home and carrying them somewhere to be mounted.

Hagerty quotes $18-50,000 being the range in value for a 1957 Bel Air, fair to Concours in condition. The seller pegs his price based on the closing bid of another car like it he found on eBay. Given the car’s apparent condition, it looks like a fair amount of money to expect. Get it cleaned up, running again, and repainted in Surf Green and you’d have yourself a weekend cruiser!


  1. piston poney

    i might be wrong but i think that is a trans am/fire bird in the background

    Like 10
    • Vegaman Dan

      Split side marker light, shaker hood, chicken decal- yep, you’re right!

      Honestly the 57 Chev thing is so overdone at shows and more that they just don’t appeal to me. The Pontiac though… HMM!

      Like 10
    • Little_Cars

      yes….and? You hot for a screaming chicken T/A?

      Like 1
  2. Will Fox

    Oh joy. Another `57 Chevy. Be still my heart. (eye roll)

    Like 6
  3. Doug from MD.

    I a good chuckle at the previous comments. I feel the same way when I see a later model Mustang or Camaro or Trans Am. Yeah I know I’m getting old. I know the 57 has been done to death but so have most of the other cars at any local car show. Like my dad used to say if you’ve seen one you’ve seen a dozen.

    Like 14
    • ellen dyer

      What you don’t see many of are 69 Roadrunners in good condition, like mine . One owner, matching numbers, 383, 4 spd., garaged.

  4. Turbo

    Someone should clone it into a GTO. Yes, I’m back on my meds, who’s asking?

    Like 3
    • Stan Marks

      Turbo, better up your meds…. a lot. LOL!!!

      • Turbo

        these pretzels are making me thirsty!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Nomader 55

    I smell the giant green giant of jealousy in these comments. As an owner of Many tri-five chevys, mostly 57; Dan, how can you overdo perfection? And I love Pontiacs too. Doug, I may be as old as your dad( a wise man ) what’s wrong with seeing a dozen 57 Chevies.

    Like 18
    • Doug from MD.

      I’m with you Nomad. I agree with you completely I guess what I was trying to say was to the current car guys. Meaning the mustang Camaro and firebird cars are a dime a dozen to us old guys. As being old as my dad that would make you 92. Lol. Rip dad .

      Like 3
      • Little_Cars

        Perhaps a “current car guy” is getting excited at this very moment for the Trans Am sitting right next to this ol’ 57.

    • Fran

      Easy. The 57 Chevy is a bellybutton car. Everyone’s got one! The convertible is too much money and the nomad looks great for about 5 minutes.

      Like 1
      • Dusty Stalz

        I don’t have one.

        Like 2
      • Steve Feld Member

        I have one – all taken apart all the way down to door hinges getting a good look at. The problem with a good restoration is that when its done, the descriptive wording changes to “an older restoration” as if the peak quality begins to diminish the moment the restoration work is done.

        The secret is to never call the work done.

  6. Jay E. Member

    Personally I wish we had a Tri-five-of-the-day on BF. I log on daily just to see if there is one and if not, find another site to cruise. Until you own and drive one, it is difficult to understand the lure of these beautiful cars, especially the ’57. I have had mine for years and still marvel at the details in the trim, the beautiful interior and amazing body lines. They drive great and meeting so many people who smile as they reminisce will make any day brighter.
    This one looks to be a pretty good deal, hardtops are more difficult to find. But I’d want to see and inspect it in person, as there can be a lot of time and money spent to correct small things, such as window seals and rubber suspension parts. But if this would just clean up and be drive able, it would be a bargain driver.

    Like 8
  7. Desert Rat

    Wow, “57s done to death” I’ve wanted a 57 for most of my life and and still do. I must just be too much of a car guy because I never get tired at looking at beautiful designs, be it my 69 Camaro hugger orange with white z stripes
    (oh,sooo done to death) , 67 to 70 Mustangs (had three of these over done things) and I also have one of the most overdone cars in the world, a 32 ford roadster street rod with guess what a Chevy motor in it, (even more over done!) My point is, like the expression goes, beauty is and always will be in the eye of the beholder and that beauty never gets old.

    Like 10
  8. Geoff

    I agree that 57s are a dime a dozen at shows. This one is solid and whole enough to merit restoration none the less. It won’t last long.

    Like 3
  9. John

    I’ve always been a bit amazed about that large open space between the grill and radiator. Was that an attempt at a primitive crumple zone?

  10. Timothy Youngberg

    Red 57 Chevy is boring but a green one would be beautiful.

  11. Van Lewis

    more like 116,000 miles

  12. BigDoc Richard Van Dyke Sr

    Personally this is the most beautiful car ever made. I don’t care if you paint it red, black, green or yellow 57’s just look gorgeous.

    Like 10
  13. dr fine

    I knew a guy who was daily driving a “good for twenty years of age” Bel Air in the late seventies. He drove it because he liked it so much, but the trim kept disappearing.

    Like 1
  14. Stan Marks

    Hey Russ Dixon, Elvis or Marilyn, driving this car when it was new??
    Are you friggin’ kidding me???
    Elvis was busy with his garage full of Caddys. Marilyn wouldn’t be caught dead (pardon the expression), driving this, either. Maybe a ’57 T-bird conv.

    Like 3
  15. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Everybody has an opinion, likes and dislikes, that’s what makes car hobbies so interesting. I like everything stock, as in the way it came from the manufacturer. Others want to modify everything, still others just want mild modifications.
    I’ve owned a 57 Bel Aire 2 door hardtop. I enjoyed it, and drove it everyday. I’ve also owned new cars, they all have good and bad. My current old car is a 64 Buick Riviera, which was loaded from factory with options. I also have a new SUV which has so many sensors that warn of every possible condition. I love the back up camera with large screen and warning buzzers lights etc. you can’t drive down the street without seeing several of them, so I don’t mind seeing several 57 Chevy’s at shows, in fact I rather enjoy the experience.
    Long letter to say little.
    God bless America

    Like 3
    • Stan Marks

      John, like most GM cars, of the 50’s, IMHO, they are the top of the line, compared to Ford & Dodge/Chrysler.
      Back then, they held up their value, over the other two major brands, for reliability, quality & style.

      OK, Ford & Chryslers enthusiasts. I know you will disagree. And I respect that. To each his/her own.
      But facts are facts..

  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Honest car – surprised it still listed – but not everyone has 20 grand. He has the T/A in the garage listed also.

  17. Swolff Member

    I understand. Sometimes we almost get tired of looking at them. But they are still a beautiful car. I had one when it was almost new and I have fond memories of it. The Tri 5’s clearly said what the 50’s were all about. Be safe everyone

    Like 1
  18. JEFF S.

    I will own a 50s Chevy some day, but it will be a 1956. My birth year and my older brother had one in 1974. We drove it all over Southern California, before I joined the USAF in 1976. I just have always liked the looks of the 56, fins only belong on Caddy’s.

    Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Great choice, Greg. One of my favorites, too.
      Friend of mine has a ’56 BelAir, white over turquoise.
      Happy motoring…

      • JEFF S.

        My brothers was white over purple metal flake, that is what I will be painting mine, one day.

    • Stan Marks

      Jeff.Not Stu. Oy!
      Is it 2021 yet?
      What a year…

      • Little_Cars

        You’re blaming your inability to remember peoples’ names in an online forum to the pandemic? Blood moon? Death of John Prine and Johnny Nash? Murder hornets? The election? Just admit, like me, sometimes your keystrokes are a little faster than your brain sometimes. LOL

        Like 2
      • Stan Marks

        All of the above, Little-cars.
        Did I get your name right?? LOL!!

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        You can call me David. Little Cars Garage is my business handle.

    • Steve Feld Member

      They are the rarest of the three cars. Find one and get to work on your ’56! I have enjoyed my ’57 Sport Coupe project. Four years ago I found a 1941 dime in the sand collected in the right rocker panel. What fun.

      Like 1
  19. Stan Marks

    Sorry, I meant Jeff. Not Greg.

    • Stan Marks

      Stu, White over purple is awesome. Although white over any color is sweet.
      I love metal flake.
      I’ve always been partial to classic candy apple red.

  20. Drake

    As soon as I saw ’57 Chevy, I was like, “oh God, here were go again….”
    They just keep popping like a real that won’t go away!

    Like 1
  21. JEFF S.

    As more and more of us boomers die, we will see plenty of great cars, that have been hidden away, where the family was not even told about them. And since the family has zero attachment, the prices may actually be something we can afford.

    Like 1
  22. John Vahey

    I’ll take my 1954 BelAir Sport Coupe, all ORIGINAL, over all of them. The only car I’d take over this is a 56 Nomad

  23. Turbo

    serenity now!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dan H

      This should help, the seller is now asking $24K!

  24. Gerald BURGESS

    Russ. Can you give me an address for the owner
    I would like to contact him via email.
    Seriously interested in buying.
    Gerald ease contact me
    I am seriously interested in this car

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