Our last Bel Air Fuelie sold so quickly we had staff members who didn’t even see the car! But that’s really no surprise given the market for ’57 Chevrolet convertibles continues to be red hot, and buyers continue to do pretty much everything short of fist fighting to land the tri-five of their dreams. Don’t believe me? A quick search of 2012 "Mecum":http://mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=FL0112-121196 and "RM":http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MR10&CarID=r147 auctions reveals these classics are starting to push into $200K territory. And generally, when we’re lucky enough to get a top notch example to park in our showroom, we receive a sizeable deposit before its engine even cools. Like our last Fuelie, this topless temptation is decked in a killer Tropical Turquoise and Ivory color combination. It also shares that car’s status of having a date-correct 283 V8 which is topped by correct Ramjet fuel injection. But that’s where the similarities end as this car, built to be an all-out performer, exchanges GM’s soggy Powerglide slush box for a proper, date-correct Saginaw 3-speed. If you tried to score your dream car last time around but, like many other crazed tri-five fans, called just a little too late, here’s a chance to claim one of the nicest Bel Air convertibles we’ve ever seen!
In 1957 there were 460 possible combinations of vibrant Detroit color schemes; but today, few are more period perfect than GM’s code 799 Tropical Turquoise. Face it, unless your car has fins and enough brightwork to create dividends for a small disco ball factory don’t bother with pastel pigments, and don’t even THINK about outrageous interior fabric. And speaking of pastels and contrasts, the correct Turquoise paint on this mac daddy tri-five is amazingly nice, and it looks both epic and natural contrasting the car’s luxurious two-tone innards and miles of stainless trim. Of course, the foundation for all that visual flash is a laser-straight body which fosters proper panel alignment, displays even gaps and virtually defines the word flawless. And the depth of the car’s finish is remarkable thanks to hours of block sanding, an equal amount of wet sanding and a thorough buffing. What it ultimately adds up to is one show worthy cruiser that’ll slay pretty much anything on the road when it comes to style, pedigree and classic good looks!
The ‘57 is certainly the most well-known of the tri-five Chevys with brilliant trim and crisp, retro styling that strikes a perfect balance between grandiose 50s bling and exaggerated 60s proportions. 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 gold, 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. 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 high lift, fuel injected 283 V8 (EK) assembled in Flint, Michigan (F) on September (09) 21st (2I) 1957 build stamp above 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. And 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. And visually, the car’s satin black fenders serve as a perfect bridge between the small block’s bright orange glow and the body’s slick Turquoise sheen.
Underneath this razor-sharp drop-top a stunningly straight and smooth X-frame chassis is finished in flawless satin black paint and, when viewed next to the car’s plethora of clean suspension parts, looks so nice you’ll swear it’s floated down less than 10 miles of country black top. Above that top notch chassis, solid red floorpans sport a chip-free coat of what appears to be traditional oxide primer. And behind the engine a sturdy 3-speed manual transmission, which wears an application-correct 3845122 Saginaw casting number and a June (F) 6th (6) of 1957 (7) 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 Turquoise wheels which spin classy 8.00-14 BF Goodrich Silvertown white walls around pristine Chevrolet hubcaps. All fuel lines, brake lines and stainless fasteners appear fresh and free of weathering. And 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 680 Ivory and Turquoise 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 Turquoise 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. And front and center, a curvaceous dash is detailed with traditional tri-five stainless, a familiar bowtie branded gauge cluster and what appears to be an original AM radio. 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. And behind the cockpit a clean convertible cowl snaps down over a fully restored trunk that features a correct mat, a correct jack, correct decals and a full-size spare tire.
This awesome Bel Air Fuelie is absolutely off-the-charts in every measurable way! And if you’ve spent any time looking at tri-five convertibles you know this top option beaut is about as investment grade as they come. There simply can’t be many tri-fives out there that are nicer or cooler than this car. And when you add in its correct color combination, correct drivetrain components, and the fact that it’s the quintessential old school cruiser, you’re looking at what might be the ultimate collector car!