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Sunday, May 23, 2010

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air - Collector Car For Sale


If there’s a nicer 1957 Chevy in the world than this one, I’d like to see it. Black on black with a bright red interior, this ’57 convertible is so perfect, some guys from NASA were here using it to calibrate their instruments. Throw in the ultra rare dual quad 283 and you’ve got the ultimate ’57 Chevy! Holy cow, this is one spectacular car! Restored not too long ago, and perfectly preserved ever since (you’ll note that the brake and throttle pedals are wrapped in plastic), this car is poised to take top honors at just about any show you care to attend. The color combination is authentic, the engine is a real dual quad 283, and the interior is like a work of art. If you don’t stop and stare at this car when you see it, then I’m going to have to ask you to turn in your car guy card at the door on your way out. Is it authentic? Absolutely. According to the VIN tag, this is an original V8 car built in St. Louis. Backing that up is the cowl tag listing code 793 paint (Onyx Black) with code 683 interior (silver and red imitation leather), as well as accessories such as EZI (tinted windows) and WS (power seats and windows). The engine is a correct “FD” code 283 with dual quads attached to a Powerglide automatic. The first thing you notice when you approach this Bel Air is the astounding black bodywork. It’s no secret that when you paint a car black, it HAS to be perfect. Gaps, panel alignment, waves, repairs, everything must be done to the highest level if you’re going to get the best results. On this car, there’s no doubt that hundreds of hours were spent tweaking, sanding, adjusting, and massaging all the sheet metal into place before any paint was applied. The paint is 2-stage base/clear for an incredibly deep shine that looks like you could swim in it, and there are no signs that this car has ever had anything more abrasive than a gentle breeze rubbed against it. Open the doors and note that the door jambs have been wet sanded and buffed like the rest of the body, and that they open and close with well-oiled precision. The hood and decklid fit extremely well, too. In short, this is just about as nice as cars can get, and if you are restoring a ’57 Chevy, this is now the standard you’ll need to meet. Restoring the chrome on this car must have cost as much as a new Mercedes. Not only is there a lot of metal that has been polished, sanded, buffed, and plated, but it was done to exceptional standards. There are no waves, no dimples, no signs of corrosion or pitting, just flat, smooth pieces that look better today than they did the moment this ragtop rolled off the assembly line (even NOS chrome wouldn’t look remotely this good). The anodized panels are excellent, and the gold trim pieces such as the trim on the decklid and continental kit, as well as the grille, has been similarly restored to outstanding, better-than-new condition. All the Bel Air specific pieces are present, and the stainless has been buffed and polished to the point where it is indistinguishable from chrome. If you’re going to park this car in the sun, be sure you’re wearing sunglasses! After seeing that body, you know the engine bay is going to be a treat, and it is. Packing dual four barrel carburetors under a correct and incredibly rare “batwing” air cleaner, the 283 cubic inch V8 in this Bel Air has been fully dressed for show. The block and heads have been painted the correct shade of Chevy Orange, while the intake is natural aluminum. The valve covers are also painted, and have the correct silver-painted “Chevrolet” lettering (not black as many believe). Easy stuff like the belts and hoses are authentic right down to the spring clamps, and you’ll notice that this car has power brakes with the correct master cylinder and vacuum reservoir canister on the driver’s side inner fender. The generator has the power steering pump integrated into it as original, and even the spark plug wires feature the correct red plug boots, which is correct only on 1957 cars featuring the dual quad or fuel injected engines. The radiator is just too nice, with paint that’s almost as smooth as the exterior bodywork, but perfection is perfection, and it is topped with a correct cap. The correct tar top Delco battery is in its tray, and correct bare cast iron exhaust manifolds feed the true dual exhaust system underneath. When you enter this car in a show, make sure you call ahead and tell them how to spell your name on the trophy. The chassis is exceptionally detailed as well. The frame is the correct semi-gloss black, the floors are red oxide primer, and if it was originally bare metal, it is bare metal on this car—no painted “simulation” of original, but 100% as it was. This includes the steering box and linkage, the transmission housing, and a lot of nuts and bolts and fasteners that are absolutely correct. The exhaust system is new and correct with the proper mufflers, and you’ll note that the driveshaft features accurately reproduced stripes and markings. The rear end features the correct satin black housing with red oxide primer on the center section. A new gas tank hangs out back, feeding the powerful engine under the hood using fresh lines and hoses. Correct spiral shocks keep the suspension under control, and the rear leaf springs have been restored. Finally, this gorgeous car rides on a set of correct 14-inch steel wheels with Bel Air wheel covers and 7.50-14 BFGoodrich Silvertown whitewall tires. The red and silver imitation leather interior is really what sets this car apart. The black and red contrast is one of the most spectacular combinations, and every time we get a car in this combination, it sells almost immediately. On this one, the restoration work was expertly done and it is show-quality throughout. The materials are authentic and correct, in the correct patterns. The door panels are gorgeous silver and red affairs that are simple and elegant, with power window switches housed above the door handle. The power front bench seat is covered in more red and silver elegance, with the silver portions being the correct textured material. The black carpets and floor mats are new and correct, and as I mentioned, the brake and accelerator pedals have never seen the bottom of a shoe. Fresh matching red paint covers the dashboard, which also features a textured metal insert and Bel Air script next to the ticking clock. I don’t know if the steering wheel is a reproduction or restored original, but it is flat-out beautiful, especially with the chrome horn ring and simple Chevrolet emblem in the center. The gauges have all been fully restored, and it shows just 82 miles since the restoration was completed. Overhead is one of the best-fitting convertible tops I’ve ever seen, and I’m wagering that our photo shoot was the first time it has ever been folded (don’t worry, we took extra precautions to protect the wrinkle-free plastic rear window). A matching red vinyl boot covers the top stack when it is folded, giving the car a sporty, finished look. Out back, the trunk is fully restored with a correct mat, jack assembly, and other tools, while the spare tire itself has been relocated to the continental kit out back. You’ll also note the power antenna back there. This is what we call a blue chip investment car. Despite their relatively high production numbers, the extraordinary popularity of the 1957 Chevy will insure that demand always outstrips supply, keeping prices high. The very best cars, rare ones like this heavily optioned Bel Air convertible with the dual quad 283, will remain at the top of the heap, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, fast, comfortable, and everyone has a story or a happy memory about one. That explains their extraordinary popularity, and why people will go to such amazing lengths to restore them to absolute perfection. Fully researched, restored to concours-winning standards, and ready to enjoy today, this Bel Air convertible is a can’t-lose proposition. The last ’57 convertible we had, a gorgeous turquoise Bel Air, sold for a big number, and this one is even nicer and features the rare dual quad engine as standard equipment. If you’re looking for a no-excuses ’57 convertible with a ton of accessories and big horsepower, this is the one you need.


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