The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is in a pretty elite group when it comes to significance and overall impact on the automotive world. It’s one of the most easily recognized cars worldwide and clean stock examples routinely fetch six figures at auction. With an impressive red on red and black color combination and a dual quad 283/Powerglide drivetrain wrapped in a fresh, frame-off restoration, this Bel Air is the kind of well-done classic that goes above and beyond the nearly universal appeal of a stock model. If you’re considering a show-stopping tri-five, why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a similar car when you can take home this completed masterpiece for only $70K?
This exceptionally clean classic is a no-compromises build that combines great Bel Air design with marvelous craftsmanship and a hot Chevy small block. Officially revived via a professional, frame-off restoration, this pristine hardtop was completely stripped and given a high quality shakedown that ensured every one of its rock-solid panels presents much better than factory originals. Once the car’s fenders and doors were mocked up, its ripple-free body was blanketed in a smooth coat of Matador Red urethane and buried in a durable clearcoat shell. And today, it sits as a fresh spin on a traditional look that combines the visual punch of a classic Ferrari with the visual class of a vintage Cadillac.
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 props a gold Bel Air grille behind a pristine Chevrolet crest and two clear parking lamps. Above that crest, Bel Air-exclusive header ornamentation rides between new hooded headlights and ’57 Chevy-exclusive ‘spear bullets and spoons’. At the sides of those headlights, classic tri-five stainless, which visually connects the car’s front fenders with its rear fins, is branded by Bel Air-exclusive emblems that display no dulling or imperfections of any kind. At the top of those emblems, curvy chrome trim combines with correct chrome mirrors, new stainless wipers and a small chrome antenna to perfectly frame a like-new greenhouse. Opposite that antenna, peaked stainless caps begin at the top of the car’s fins and continue down to ’57 Chevy tail lights, a second chrome bumper and traditional, round exhaust tips. And above that bumper, a Bel Air-exclusive “Chevrolet” script complements a matching gold “V” emblem and a traditional gold tag frame.
While this coupe is certainly one handsome cruiser, we all know that looks aren’t everything. Take a peek under its smooth, rolled hood and you’ll be happy to find a 283 cubic inch Super Turbo Fire V8 that’s been fully rebuilt and professionally detailed for show. Consistently chosen over Rochester’s much-hyped Ramjet fuel injection as GM’s ultimate hot rod option, this stout small block is widely regarded as the starting point of Chevrolet’s amazing performance legacy. Those reliable Carter carburetors, which inhale through traditional AC oil bath air cleaners, bolt to a revised and tweaked intake manifold that’s seated in a familiar glow of Chevy Orange paint. At the sides of that intake, stamped and silver-detailed valve covers reflect fully restored exhaust manifolds that funnel spent gases into true dual pipes. Behind that intake, a traditional points distributor shoots fire through fresh Ultimate Heat Protection Wires that are neatly loomed at the sides of the block. And in front of that intake, a glossed and decaled radiator circulates coolant through brand new hoses and authentic metal squeeze clamps. In addition to its killer powerplant, this Bel Air offers a weather-free engine bay that’s complete with stainless fuel lines, a tagged Delco-Remy generator and even a reproduction Delco yellow cap battery. And aesthetically, the car’s glossy black fenders blend seamlessly with its brightly adorned mill on the way to providing a natural contrast that virtually oozes performance appeal!
Underneath this razor-sharp bowtie, a stunningly straight chassis is finished in smooth 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 floorpans wear a chip-free coat of Matador Red basecoat. Behind the engine, a correct 2-speed Powerglide transmission spins torque through a new driveshaft and a fully rebuilt rear end. Holding that road ready powertrain in place is a fresh, fully-sorted suspension which includes traditional control arms up front, correct leaf springs out back and fresh Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks at all four corners. Vintage turning characteristics are provided by a factory manual steering system. Short, confident stops come courtesy of correct drum brakes. And at the center of the floor, a 2.5 inch, true-dual exhaust system sends spent gases through deep sounding turbo mufflers to bright stainless tips. All of the car’s brake lines, fasteners and fuel system components appear fresh and free of weathering. And putting the power to the pavement is a sweet set of 14 inch Matador Red steelies that spin old fashioned 215/75 Coker Classic whitewalls around ornate stainless center caps.
The spectacular cockpits in second generation Bel Airs need no introduction, but here goes. Depress the button on this Chevy’s bright chrome door handle and you’ll find a gorgeous GM code 676 black and red interior that stays completely true to the car’s original scheme. The rebuilt front and rear bench seats are all-day comfortable and feature supple, silver-piped hides that fit well and feel great. Beneath those seats, fresh black carpet props rugged Bel Air-crested floor mats next to clean black kick panels and bright Fisher-branded sill plates. At the edges of that carpet, flawless two-tone door panels are anchored beneath sculpted red toppers and classy stainless frames. At the front of those panels, a curvaceous dash is layered in bright red urethane, spectacular chrome trim and a stylish, bowtie-branded gauge pod. The driver spins a correct red steering wheel that’s complete with a chrome horn ring and a classic Chevrolet Bel Air centerpiece. And passengers store their essentials in a freshly finished trunk that features a correct mat, a correct jack and a full-size spare tire.
A top notch restoration takes a while to absorb. Its features may not hit you immediately but, the longer you spend looking at it, the easier it becomes to see just how much work has actually been performed. From its ultra-clean, dual quad 283 to its amazing interior, every piece of this Bel Air shows as though it was the priority of the build. If you’re in the market for a well-executed copy of America’s most iconic automobile, don’t miss your chance to own this killer ’57 Chevy!