This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible is a striking example of the range-topping ‘Tri-Five’ model of its era, presented in restored condition with the most desirable factory specification. It is equipped with the 283bhp ‘Duntov cam’ 283 cu in (4.6-litre) V8 engine, featuring Rochester Ramjet fuel injection, as well as the sought-after three-speed manual transmission.
At the time, the fuel-injected 283 cu in engine attracted a significant premium of around 25% over the next most expensive version of the Chevrolet. It was the first time that the company had achieved a one-to-one ratio of horsepower per cubic inch – “Chevy attains the engineer’s dream” was the line used in magazine adverts at the time. Chevrolet used the powerful engine as the foundation of its 1957 ‘Black Widow’ competition cars, which were so instantly dominant in NASCAR that fuel-injected cars were promptly banned from racing.
Understood to have been first registered in January 1957, it has been in the UK for nearly 16 years, having previously been sold at auction in the USA in 2002. The vendor has owned the car for the last two years and has used it sparingly. The odometer now shows 2,416 miles, which is not warranted. It is presented in outstanding condition, is road-registered and ready to enjoy.
The exterior of this Bel Air Convertible retains all of the key features of the 1957 model, including the large chrome bumpers, recessed grille and chrome ‘spears’ on the bonnet. It is finished in ‘Matador Red’ and the vendor reports that the paintwork is in excellent condition after an earlier restoration. The door shuts and jambs are pristine, and the underside of the bonnet and boot lids are equally superb.
On the front wings, the crossed-flags emblems and ‘Fuel Injection’ motifs denote the high-performance engine and manual transmission specification. As shown in the detailed set of photos below, the chrome is all in fantastic condition. It also retains the original Fisher Body stamps in the door sills.
The interior has previously been re-upholstered, and the two-tone bright red and light grey vinyl is still in superb order. The charcoal carpeting is also in great condition. An original GM ‘Wonder Bar’ radio is still in place in the dashboard, though the vendor reports that it is does not currently work. At the rear, the boot is neatly lined and features a spare wheel and tyre, as well as a jack.
The press-stud tonneau cover for the top is in good condition, and the white hood also looks great when extended and locked into place. It is a power-operated roof and works perfectly. Some creases are evident as a result of being stored under the cover, but there are no rips, holes or other damage. The rear panel is also free of cloudy marks. Underneath, the black frame and headliner are in great condition.
This car’s engine bay is as clean as the rest of the car, remaining in fantastic cosmetic condition from the earlier restoration. It was last fully serviced two years ago, and while the speedometer is described as ‘optimistic’, the car is currently running very well. It sits on the correct 14-inch wheels, wrapped in BF Goodrich Silvertown tyres that are in great shape.
Larry Edsall of the ClassicCars.com Journal called the 1957 Chevrolet “an icon of American culture”. On visual appearance alone, this car is a fantastic head-turning classic. That it is equipped with such a rare and sought-after engine and transmission pairing, finished in a superb colour scheme, and presented in such outstanding condition only adds to its appeal. This is a quintessential American classic that wants for nothing.