In the pantheon of American Things, Chevrolet is listed by name alongside baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. While that jingle came out in the 70s, it’s hard not to picture perhaps the most well-loved American car ever built – the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. They’re darlings of the collector world and, if you’ve been paying attention to recent auctions, the best examples are getting dangerously close to the $200k mark. If you’re in the market to purchase one these American beauties, the RK Motors Charlotte showroom is becoming the next best alternative to time travel when it comes to finding pristine examples. Earlier this week we rolled out this “pristine Turquoise fuel injected convertible”: http://rkmotorscharlotte.com/sales/inventory/active#!/1957-Chevrolet-Bel-Air/133282 and the calls are already rolling in. If you loved that car but aren’t wild about pastels, take a closer look at this immaculate Roman Red convertible. The subject of a frame-off restoration performed to the highest possible standards, this Bel Air features the sought-after Rochester fuel-injected 283 backed up by a smooth-shifting Saginaw 3-speed manual transmission. If you’re ready to take the plunge and pick up the Bel Air you’ve always dreamed up, this one is sure to impress at all levels.
As one of the most famous automotive designs on the planet, the average enthusiast could rattle off most of the 57’s significant design cues without even looking at one. From the gold-trimmed hood to the tips of the fins, these cars are the very definition of iconic. At the heart of that greatness is the body which, in the case of the convertible, has been massaged into an arrow straight masterpiece. Panel fitment is significantly above what factories were churning out in the 1950’s and every movable pieces opens and shuts with ease. Of course, it’s the color that ultimately decides the personality of these cars and the glossy coat of Matador Red lends this ’57 a sporty demeanor that most pastels simply cannot. The perfect reflections and crisp lines are a testament to how many hours were invested into block sanding the car before paint and wet sanding/buffing afterwards. The show quality finish guarantees this Chevy will make a big first impression on anyone lucky enough to see it in person.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a ’57 without a metric ton of chrome and trim pieces accenting the slick paintwork. At the front of the car a heavy body-width bumper hangs a proper Bel Air grille behind a pristine Chevrolet crest and clear white parking lights. Above that crest, Bel Air-exclusive hood ornamentation sits between bright T3 headlights and good looking ’57 Chevy-exclusive spear bullets and spoons. At the sides of those bullets classic tri-five Chevy stainless, which visually connects the car’s front fenders with its rear fins, is branded by golden Bel Air-exclusive emblems. At the edge of that stainless, dent-free rocker moldings and coveted “Fuel Injection” cross flag emblems combine with Bel Air-exclusive fender louvers and traditional chrome door handles to lend a finished look to the car’s profile while factory fender skirts add a great nostalgic touch. At the top of that profile, spotless stainless trim combines with new chrome mirrors and bright stainless wipers to frame factory tint glass and a fresh white top. And at the back of the car, peaked stainless trim, which begins at the top of fins and continues down to chrome trimmed tail lights, flows into a second body-width bumper that’s centered below Bel Air-exclusive trunk ornamentation.
Lift this classic’s brightly hued hood and you’ll find a 283 cubic inch Super Turbo Fire V8 which wears a correct 1957-specific 3731548 casting number. With the help of its Ramjet closed loop mechanical fuel injection system, this hot small block makes an astonishing one horsepower per cubic inch, creates a stout 305 lb./ft. of torque and, even in today’s world of 300 horsepower grocery getters, is still considered both quick and impressive. That tagged Rochester fuel injection system, which inhales through one of the biggest air cleaners ever devised, bolts to a Winter aluminum intake that’s seated in familiar Chevy Orange paint. At the sides of that intake, stamped and silver detailed Chevrolet valve covers hang over fully restored cast iron exhaust manifolds that are piped into a factory correct exhaust system. Behind that intake, a traditional points distributor shoots fire through fresh AC Delco Premium Wires that are neatly loomed down the sides of the block. In front of that intake, a correctly tagged radiator circulates coolant through fresh GM branded hoses and authentic metal squeeze clamps. In addition to its killer powerplant, this Bel Air offers a correctly detailed engine bay that’s complete with stainless fuel lines, proper decals, an old school generator and even a reproduction Delco yellow cap battery. Visually, the car’s satin black fenders serve as a perfect bridge between the small block’s bright orange glow and the body’s glossy Red sheen.
Underneath this razor-sharp drop-top a stunningly straight and smooth X-frame chassis is finished in flawless satin black paint. When viewed next to the car’s plethora of clean suspension parts, the frame looks so nice you’ll swear it’s floated down less than 10 miles of country black top. Above that chassis, solid red floorpans sport a chip-free coat of traditional oxide primer. At the center of the undercarriage. a sturdy 3-speed manual transmission, which wears an Saginaw casting number and a June (F) 10th (10) of 1956 (6) casting date, twists power through a fully rebuilt factory rear end. Holding that road ready powertrain in place is a fully-sorted suspension which is equipped with manual steering and rebuilt to factory specifications. Short, confident stops come courtesy of rugged four wheel drum brakes. At the center of the floor, a factory replacement exhaust system sends spent gases through spotless, mandrel bent pipes and sonorous turbo mufflers. And putting the power to the pavement is a correct set of 14 inch red steel wheels which spin classy 7.50-14 BF Goodrich Silvertown white walls around pristine Chevrolet hubcaps. All fuel lines, brake lines and stainless fasteners appear fresh and free of weathering. Everything from the car’s AC oil canister to its stainless steel fuel tank is clean, functional and ready to show.
The correct GM code 683 Red and Silver vinyl interior stitched inside this Bel Air is just what you’d expect in a classic of this caliber, and there’s hardly any sign that any human being has ever been seated behind the car’s steering wheel. The rebuilt front and rear bench seats are all-day comfortable and feature supple, stainless trimmed hides that fit well and feel great. Beneath those seats, upgraded black carpet is protected by heavy duty color-keyed floor mats. On the doors, two-tone panels look great behind pristine stainless trim, body-matched door toppers and chrome door and window handles. At front and center, a curvaceous dash is detailed with traditional tri-five stainless, a familiar bowtie branded gauge cluster and a classic Wonder Bar that still scans the AM/FM airwaves like new. In front of the driver, a large diameter steering wheel spins a body-matched rim and a full chrome horn ring around a simple column shifter. Behind the cockpit a clean convertible cowl snaps down over a fully restored trunk that features a correct mat, jack, decals and a full-size spare tire.
Most cars have a standout area but on this Bel Air, the entire car is equally stunning. With the most desirable drivetrain and arguably the most desirable color covering the most desirable body style, this car is one giant win-win situation. If you’ve considered adding a 1957 Chevrolet to your collection, they simply don’t get any nicer than this investment grade convertible.