The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is without a doubt one of the most iconic American cars of the 1950s. Starting production in 1950, the Bel Air would premier at the height of the Chevrolet model range going under the name Deluxe Bel Air. However, by 1953 would mark the first year that the Bel Air was designated as its own series, and as a result sported newly designed front nose and rear tail, as well as re-styled body panels. The 1953 and 1954 models would remain largely unchanged, however their design bridged the gap between the 1955 and 1957 models, which would become cultural icons.
1955 marked the year that a V8 engine would be available to the Bel Air line. The new V8 at 165 cubic inches would produce 162 hp and 180 hp when ordered with a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. Fittingly that with this new V8 the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 that year would be a Chevy Bel Air convertible.
Best recognized by the general public due to their distinctive styling, the 1957 Chevy Bel Air would take the world by storm. With a wheelbase of 115” the new Bel Air was almost 2.5 inches longer, and nearly 2 inches lower than it’s predecessor. Inspired by fighter jets, Chevrolet wanted consumers to know they were behind the wheel of something nearly supersonic. The quarter panels for this year, were inspired by the tail section of an F-86 fighter jet, while the distinctive headlight bezels were designed to emulate jet engine intakes. While the 265 V8 was still available, this sport coupe is equipped with the more desirable 283 cubic inch V8. Fitted with a four barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, it is more than capable of staying ahead of modern traffic.
Of the two-door line, the sport coupe was a popular alternative to the larger more popular 2-door coupe, being a pillar less coupe when both side windows are lowered, and more desirable. This sport coupe comes factory equipped with power brakes, and power steering greatly aiding driving, particularly with modern day traffic. Restored in its original colors of black over red, as it was when it rolled off the assembly line. Looking at the VIN VC57B214698 we know several things; the first two digits VC tells us this was a V8 Bel Air, and the third digit and fourth digits 57 stand for 1957, while fifth digit B tell us it was built at the Baltimore Maryland Chevrolet plant. The remaining digits 214698 tell us this was car number 114,697 produced, since 1957 cars began with 100,001.
If we look at the engine number T723FC, we’re able to look even further into this cars past. The first digit T tells us this engine 283 V8 was built at the Tonawanda plant, located in Buffalo New York, while second digit 7 tells us it was manufactured in July, and the third and fourth digits 23 being the July 23rd. Beyond that, the fourth and fifth digits FC tell us the type engine, in this case the “283” – 8 Cylinder with Powerglide and 4BC, with 4BC standing for 4 barrel, in the Chevrolet records, a desirable combination.
As you make your way around the car, the paint condition rates as fair, with a noticeable defects, such as traces of orange coming through the black paint in places. One noticeable defect is located on the rear of the right hood, which exhibits some cracking, approximately the size of a quarter. A presentable driver, there are other cracks and chips spread out over the car, while the exterior surface beneath the trunk lid has heavy cracking. The inner edges of the hood shows chipping, however it has been touched up, making it far less noticeable a acceptable for a driver, and car that is meant to be driven. Rubber tipped torpedo bumpers look fresh, and show no signs of wear or incident. Chrome overall shows well, however upon close inspection you will notice heavy scratching on some pieces, while others still appear original. The curved glass windshield is clear and showing no signs of de-lamination. Believed to be original factory glass, it retains the discreet factory tint option, and is in excellent condition all around. White wall tires complete the classic look nicely, with correct factory wheels and hubcaps.
The engine bay is clean with aftermarket 4 barrel carburetor, with the engine block painted “Chevy orange”, assumedly during the restoration. It does appear to be a shade lighter than the valve covers, which we believe to be the correct shade. The inside of the hood is undercoated. The front section immediately behind the grill is very clean and smooth, showing no evidence of a front-end collision. Overall, very tidy under the hood, with belts and rubber looking relatively fresh, correct in appearance and well restored.
The interior is in excellent condition, with original clock and radio. Cloth seats are all in very nice shape, with no rips or tears. Headliner is completely intact as are the matching door panels. Interior carpets are fresh and are protected by a period correct rubber floor mat. While the chrome horn ring is present, a push button horn has been added beneath the steering column in place of the original. Doors close nicely, and have good gaps all around. Trunk is 100% solid and matches the overall quality of the car.
This 1957 sports coupe runs and drives nicely, with all lights and turn signals working properly. Wipers and radio will need to be investigated to work as they should. Going down the road, the car feels good, stopping confidently with the assistance of its power brakes. Driving, the car shifts smoothly through the gears, as well as idles nicely at stop lights. An older restoration, this car is an excellent driver that will also be well received at local cruise nights.