Tri-Five Drop Top: 1957 Chevy Convertible


For so many of us, car people and non car people alike, the consummate “classic” is the ’57 Chevy. Here it is in one of it’s most desirable configurations, the convertible. No telling if the black paint color is original or not, but the car is so sought-after, the color doesn’t really matter much to many prospective buyers. It’s listed here on eBay, and as I write these words, the auction has 18 hours left, and the bid price is $18,200.


The photos are atrocious, and the written description is even worse. But at least enough effort was put in to the photos to make an attempt to show the car’s true condition, and that it looks like it more than likely needs a full set of floors and braces, for starters. A few words about the rockers panels, the bottom of the cowl, and so on, would be helpful. But this is an all-in or nothing kind of project, so maybe it doesn’t matter as much. You’re either interested, or you’re not, may be the thinking behind it.


This is where the drivetrain goes. The seller says one is included with it, but super-duper word economy mandates that he can’t tell us what it is, or it’s condition, or originality. At this point I might mention the standard drivetrain-of-choice options, but this car is starting to get to the price point that many buyers would only consider a proper, number-matching restoration. The other side of that coin, is a big-money crate engine. The old middle ground used 327 out of your neighbor’s wrecked ’68 Impala sedan days are about over for this car. With good examples bringing six figures, and this basket case sure to fetch twenty grand, there probably won’t be so many low-budget restorations going on with these any more.


And now it’s time to let us know what you think. Do you care to take a guess where the price will end up? What would you with it if it were yours? Numbers matching trailer queen? Big bucks restomod? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Chebby

    I always remembered Greg’s “lemon” as a ’57 but it’s a ’56.

    Anyway, a fun watch:

  2. Johnni B

    I remember growing up in the late 60s and early 70s you could buy any of those tri-fives for next to nothing. I owned many different 55-57s back then. Some where convertibles, many where 2 door hardtops. I even owned two Nomads. Some of the things I done with them Chevys I’m ashamed now to even tell you about that. I had no idea back then what I really had. Wish I had them back. Now that I’m in my early 60s I can’t afford to buy one now. But if I bought this convertible I’d put it back bone stock. I’d guess it will sell close to 30k.

    • Marty Member

      Johnni B,

      When I was a kid back in the early 70s, my parents would take me to the local dirt track. The “modifieds” and the “street stock” or “bomber” class cars seemed like they were all tri-fives. Row after row of them. I think they preferred the 2 door sedans due to the rigidity of the body, but I remember seeing the occasional hardtops as well.

      I think a lot of those guys were happy to get a couple of seasons out of them before they were destroyed, and they had to go find another, which at the time apparently wasn’t too difficult. I guess then it seemed like the well would never run dry!

      • Bobsmyuncle

        I’d argue that well has a long way to go yet.

        The Tri-Fives are easily the most common car at any meet I go to, they don’t just don’t interest me at all.

        Do we really need any more, Coke coolers, fuzzy dice, drive up food trays, drive-in speakers, or stuffed kids (counting to 10?) at the meets?

        Now make it an authentic or well recreated gasser and I start walking your way.

      • tugdoc

        Johnni B, I’m older than you and I remember “stock cars” being prewar mostly fords but all makes getting beat to nothing. By the end of the season the car was not worth bringing back to the shop. Tri 5 chevys were high school cars, most were already rusty.

      • Marty Member

        Bobs, That well might have a ways to go before it runs completely dry, but the purpose and value of what’s being drawn from it has changed considerably. Gone forever are the days of $100 ’57 Chevys bombing around the dirt track and banging into each other on Saturday nights. The old rough convertible projects that were overpriced at $500 now sell for thirty times that amount.

        Now that the ’57 Chevy is essentially being produced new again, it would be interesting to see what effect that has on the value of them in another couple of decades, or a half century from now.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Marty, indeed you are certainly right, like old Porsches, no one wants to drive their car any more for fear of how much it might cost them. How many 911s will ever see ice, or dirt racing any more?

        It’s interesting to see the cycles these cars go through. They start as regular transportation, lose value over time, become teens first cars, lose more value, become technologically inferior, maybe become derby cars LOL, lose more value and go to scrap.

        After time they become rare, the former teens now have home equity and long for the good ol’ days and start buying and restoring. Slowly they attract cult status, then they are trailered around only on sunny days, until those former teens pass on themselves.

        As time moves on, most of the cars we loved lose any significance to those still walking the earth, and many become so technologically inferior that modern roads are a challenge.

        I always roll my eyes at the ‘purists’ here that resist the idea of resto modding an otherwise unremarkable car. The hard fact is that adding modern engines with better fuel economy and reliability, and safer steering/suspension/brakes, might be the only way to keep these cars on the road at all.

  3. flmikey

    …looking at the firewall, it appears like it was turquoise at one time…I’m old school, so going back to stock would be my vote….

  4. Mike

    I don’t know flmikey, I have worked on a couple of late 50’s Chevy and have seen the same color when I have removed items from the fire wall, or sanding down the body I always wondered if it wasn’t a primer color for some models, before it hit the paint booth. Of course I was told stories that people would order a car and the dealer would get a base model, repaint it, and add the extra’s the customer wanted, and change the VIN tag to match. I worked at a local Chevy dealer for a few years, in their body shop and my co-worker found an old box full of vin tags from the 50’s and 60’s, and we were told that story from the parts guy who had been working there for about 40 years.

    • packrat

      Hidden frame vin wouldn’t match the vin tag then. Wouldn’t that cause problems occasionally?

      • JohnD

        I expect he meant trim tag. On these the trim tag on the firewall does not mention the VIN number, found on the VIN tag in the doorjamb, frame, etc. It was a simpler time . . .

    • flmikey

      …looking at the ad on ebay, there is turquoise in the trunk area too…though that might not mean much…I once owned a 66 T-Bird that was blue over black over dark blue over silver..pulled the rear seat and saw the original color was emberglo…

  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sometimes I think there are more ’57 Chevys now than there were in 1957.

  6. Rick

    GM sold over a million 1957 model year Chevys. One interesting fact is that Ford sold more Fords than GM sold Chevs in 1957. Anyhow in fall of ’74 I looked at black “57 Bel Air convert for sale that was sitting in a towing yard w/ no motor and trans in very similar condition to this one for $10 (iIn those days you could buy a nice running “57 2dr for $500) I passed because it was way too much work. In summer of ’71 I bought a complete solid and straight turquoise ’57 Bel Air 2 dr hardtop w/ no motor or trans for $5. Think it ended up going to the junk yard. And in 1981 I bought a ’57 two door hardtop no motor and trans for $50, had been watching it sit in this guys yard since ’74, wasn’t too bad of a car then, anyhow had left my number with the guy one day he called me up and said come and get it, but by then time had taken its toll,so I just flipped that one for $600, was too much work, no upside wish he woulda let me have it when I first saw it and before it had spent all those subsequent winters in the pacific nothwest rain (which totally did in the interior)

  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    Here here Bobsmyuncle!!

  8. John H. in CT

    sold. $18,200 final.

  9. Old geezer

    1957 Convertibles prices have cooled off in last couple of years. While dual quads examples fetch 100k in pristine restored condition, a very good restored can be easily purchased for 50-60k. There is a lot of work and money to be put into this car.

    Absolutely everything is available in reproductions today, from a whole new steel body to small trim pieces, which fuels it’s collectibility.

    I have had several 57 Chevys and they’re not as well made as any Buick of the same era nor do they ride as nice.

  10. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Marty – Johnie and all….yes a lot saw dirt action – at a swap meet a guy had lots of tri 5 trim and we inquired – said he had lots of bodies out on the farm…..which we were thinking – wow – mother load…..when we finally got out there – yes there were a lot – a lot on their sides – seems – like he said – when they needed a new frame for the stock car – they would just take the tractor turn them on the side and cut a frame out – this was in the 80’s…..sadly the whole side was gone to rust….it was sad…..

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