16 August 1998
1957 CHEVROLET BEL AIR CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. VC570123128
Engine No. F209F
Matador red with red and silver interior and a white top
Engine: V8, 283ci., 220bhp at 4,800rpm; Gearbox: powerglide automatic; Suspension: independent front, leaf springs at the rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
The king of the 1950's Chevrolet line-up, the 57' Bel Air, is unique in that it was designed by a group of car enthusiasts. Two design teams led by Ed Cole and Harley Earl set out to improve upon an already successful car.
In his spare time, Cole was a hot-rodder, even before it was popular. He and his team were skilled and enjoyed developing engines. They took time and effort to make sure that everything fit properly and performed at the highest level. Cole discovered ways to make thinner castings than had been previously used in production, and the result made the engines lighter. Lighter rocker arms were used in the '55 but in the '57 they changed to hydraulic lifters that were sturdier for drag racing conditions. Because the time was taken to improve the overall efficiency on the new Chevy engine, it performed better than any other production engine making it truly spectacular.
Harley Earl was put in charge of updating the body. He and his team made a body that was longer and lower with less roundness than the 1955 and 1956 models. The lines were sharper with flatter curves, yet edges were neatly finished. They put more details on this model such as subtle fins with a brushed aluminum splash accentuating them. The front is more dramatic with a heavier bumper and 'the dual gunsight' hood ornaments. They put chrome in just about everywhere possible, keeping with the fifties trend. Another nice touch is the concealed fuel filler in the left fin.
This superb California car has been the subject of a meticulous ground up restoration that took a full three years to complete. The work was finished in 1996 and the car went on to win several first places in California events. The body off retoration was a no expense spared undertaking on a totally original, matching number (Tag) car - all documented by photographs. The vehicle frame was powder coated along with the gas tank and all the inner fenders. The 283 engine was completely rebuilt and balanced, as was the two speed power glide transmission. All mechanicals and components were painstakingly rebuilt to the exact original specifications. This car was featured on the front cover of the spring 1996 issue of Classic Chevy and the article following applauds the car's correctness and attention to detail. It is even finished in its attractive original color combination of Matador red with red and silver interior. We are told that since the restoration of the car, it has covered less than 200 miles and has been maintained by the restorer.
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