National Award Winning Bel Air Convertible 283 Fuelie
The last 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible we had sold so quickly there were staff members who didn't even see it. That one was an extremely high point car with a lot of options, just as this one is, but in comparison, this Tropical Turquoise fuelie is absolutely the nicest we've ever seen, and may be the rarest, most investment-worthy '57 Chevy available anywhere. It includes 100% original sheet metal, and from what we can determine, it has all its correct drivetrain components, including the fuel injection system. We're not alone in our appreciation of this Bel Air, since it has won enough trophies to fill a garage bay, with more than 33 first place and best of show wins to its credit. Yeah, it really is that nice.
We have a copy of the original window sticker that confirms this is a factory fuel injected Bel Air convertible, and as a result, no expense was spared in the complete, frame-off restoration that was performed in the late-90s. Even today, a decade later, it remains in near #1 condition, having been transported to every show in its own enclosed trailer with a likeness of this car painted on the side. In fact, it won an AACA National Senior award as recently as 2008. And just to further document this car's amazing pedigree, here are the relevant numbers:
Engine build date and suffix code (stampings): F1217 FJ (Assembled in Flint MI, on December 17, 1956. 283 cubic inch fuel injection 250 horsepower Powerglide automatic)
Rochester Fuel injection unit: serial number 1519 (sequence number), part number 7014520 (correct part number for mid-year 1957)
Transmission: E37 (May 3, 1957)
Rear end: Casting number: 3725899 – L126 (Dec 12, 1956)
Generator: 1102041 GM14 (1956-57 V8 with power steering, 30 amp 1102041)
Style – 57-1067 DTX (1957 Convertible)
Body – L10853 (Sequence number)
Trim - 680 (Turquoise)
Paint – 799 (Tropical Turquoise)
There were 460 possible combinations of brilliant, vibrant color schemes in 1957, and few were more period perfect than Tropical Turquoise. Face it, if your car doesn't have fins and enough chrome to open a disco ball factory, don't bother with the pastels. This Bel Air wears it proudly over a laser-straight body that shows few flaws anywhere on its surface. In photos, perhaps it appears that the doors are slightly out of alignment, but that's simply due to the door edge guards, because in reality the gaps are almost perfect and alignment is spot-on. The depth of the paint is remarkable given that there's no metallic in the finish. Hours of block sanding before the paint went on, and an equal amount of wet sanding and buffing have resulted in a show-winning surface that looks as good today as it did when it first rolled out of the paint shop.
Restoring a car to this level also requires a financial commitment to your plating shop, as all the trim on this car probably cost as much as a new Cadillac. First off, all the trim on this car is either original to the vehicle or NOS replacement, no reproduction stuff. The finish on every part is virtually flawless in every way, without waves or grinding marks, and the details have been preserved on all the intricate little parts. As a V8 Bel Air model, this one got the wide, stylized, gold-anodized V up front, as well as the gold anodized grille to match. And with fuel injection, appropriate badges were added to the front fenders, and unlike many Bel Airs on the road today, this one comes by them honestly.
Lift the hood and you'll find that famous Rochester fuel injection box sitting atop the intake, and when fitted to 1957's 283 V8, makes 250 horsepower. Inhaling through one of the biggest air cleaners ever devised, there's no mistaking a fuelie for anything else. Perhaps there was a time when they had a reputation for being cranky, but those days are gone and decades of development and tinkering have made the systems just as reliable as carburetors in our collector vehicles. In addition, this one offers a correctly detailed engine bay, with proper markings, decals, and equipment throughout, from the air filter warning label to the GM stamps on the power steering hoses. Beautiful Chevy Orange paint covers the block, heads, and even the valve covers, which have Chevrolet spelled out on their faces. The judges at all the major events have struggled to find fault with this engine bay, and you'll be hard pressed to find one nicer.
Interestingly, this fuelie also includes a 2-speed Powerglide automatic, making for an interesting combination of muscle and luxury, although drag racers have been partial to the Powerglide for decades due to its rugged simplicity. The chassis has been expertly detailed, from the red oxide primer on the floors, to the satin black frame, to the cad plated hardware holding it all together. Unlike a lot of restored cars that work too hard showing off their “inspection marks,” this one uses them sparingly, just as the factory did, and it looks correct, not overwrought. A reproduction exhaust system gives it the right sound, and there's nothing like a fuel injected small block cackling along with the top down. Looking this one over, it's easy to forget that the restoration is more than ten years old, and it's very likely still competitive today. The only upgrade over stock specification is a set of 205/75/14 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whitewall radials on the original steel wheels with OEM wheelcovers, not reproductions.
The interior is just as you'd expect in a car of this caliber, and there's no sign that any human being has ever been seated behind the wheel. Seriously, they weren't this clean coming down the assembly line, what with a dirty factory all around them. The white vinyl areas are dazzlingly bright, and the turquoise inserts wear correct buttons in the backrests, front and rear. The carpets are a shade darker, just to help anchor the interior and not go into turquoise overload, although they're protected by a set of matching rubber floor mats. The dash, gauges, and steering wheel are probably better than new, with crisp markings and beautiful chrome, as well as an AM radio that plays loud and clear. Overhead there's a brilliant white vinyl convertible top with matching boot, and the trunk offers a correct mat and jack assembly, although the spare tire well is empty—that continental kit isn't just for show, you know.
Documentation includes a copy of the original window sticker, judging forms from the AACA, an exhaustive list of all the awards this car has won, a thick restoration album, and a price guide for the 1957 Chevrolet dealership.
Honestly, there's not much I can tell you that the pictures and pedigree don't. This car is off-the-charts nice in every single measurable way. If you've been looking at '57 Bel Air convertibles, you know that drivers change hands for not a lot less than we're asking for this show-winner. And there simply can't be many cars out there nicer than this. The restoration is one of the finest we've ever seen, and the expert care and maintenance it has received over the years has resulted in a car that may still be competitive at the very highest levels. Add in the fuel injected engine, original sheet metal, all the options, and a killer color combination, and you have what might be the ultimate '57 Chevy. Call today!
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