Matador Red
Black
283 V8
2 Speed Automatic
  • *Authentic V-code car
  • *Frame-off restoration
  • *Matador Red
  • *283 cid V8 w/ Power Pack
  • *Powerglide transmission
  • *Original AM radio

Cultural icons don't get much bigger than the '57 Chevy Bel Air. This lovely hardtop, complete with a fresh frame-off restoration, practically defines the breed. If you've been looking for a great cruiser, this Matador Red with its Power Pack 283 is the ideal choice. Streetable, handsome, and instantly recognizable, the hardtop is also a relative bargain compared to their drop-top siblings.

If you're looking for a modern fuel-injected crate motor and a 4-speed automatic under the hood, you're going to be disappointed. Cars like that are a dime a dozen, and they're everywhere. But like the equally iconic 1932 Ford 3-window coupe, finding one that has been accurately restored to original condition can be a challenge. The bodywork was expertly restored, and the crisp detailing is dazzling, emphasizing the spectacular '57 design. The basics have been covered, with straight sheet metal and good panel gaps, but there must be hundreds of hours in the finish, which is two-stage urethane that's about a mile deep with reflections that are just about distortion-free. The result is a gorgeous hardtop that's the prototypical Bel Air, you know, the one you picture in your imagination every time someone mentions “'57 Chevy.”

Some critics at the time thought the design of the '57 offered too much chrome, but time has a way of proving critics wrong. Of course, all that chrome and stainless comes at a price, and this car surely carries a chrome bill the size of a new Chevy Impala. This is a real V-code V8 Bel Air, so the gold anodized emblems on the hood and trunk were restored, along with the gold grille, and the bumpers are exceptional. Those long stainless sweep spears along the flanks have been given a show-quality polish, and no Bel Air is complete without the quarter panel inserts, which have been beautifully refinished.

The 283 cubic inch V8 under the hood is equipped with the popular Power Pack upgrade, which included a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, boosting power and creating the small block archetype that we have grown to love today. Like the rest of the car, the engine bay is accurately restored, with bright Chevy Orange paint on the block, correct satin black accents on the accessories, and silver Chevrolet script on the valve covers. Proper reproduction decals have been used throughout, the original generator still makes electricity, and the stock single master cylinder has been rebuilt. This car also has neat options like a windshield washer, complete with glass bottle on the inner fender and an accessory bug screen mounted in front of the radiator. A recent Delco tar top battery has been installed, which, along with reproduction hoses and correct wire style hose clamps round out a show-worthy engine bay.

The chassis is clean, straight, and rust-free, highlighted by a 2-speed PowerGlide automatic. The floors and chassis are satin black and obviously restored to be driven, but there's no evidence of rust or previous damage. A recent dual exhaust system offers glasspack-style mufflers that sound very 1950s cool, and the 4-wheel drum brakes have been fully rebuilt. In fact, everything has been rebuilt, including the front suspension, shocks, bushings, and rear end, and it drives just as good as it looks. The original steel wheels wear factory wheelcovers and new 7.50-14 wide whitewall bias-ply tires for a period-perfect look.

Two-tone red and black is the ideal complement to the Matador Red bodywork, and it has been expertly reproduced in the original factory style using correct materials and patterns. The door panels are gorgeous, blending perfectly with the reupholstered seats, which feature fresh foam underneath. New black carpets are protected by contrasting red rubber floor mats, and the bright red headliner is new as well. All the gauges, as well as the complete dash board, have been restored and remain in fully functional condition. Steering wheels are often challenging to restore properly, but this one, including the horn ring, probably looks better than new and will last a lot longer than the original plastic did. The original AM radio remains in the dash and pulls in signals loud and clear, which is always a nice perk on these old cars where maybe the radios aren't the most reliable equipment. In back, the trunk has been expertly finished to stock condition as well, making this a car you can show with pride.

'57 Chevy fans appreciate the cars in all their many shapes, styles, configurations, with modifications and without, but cars like this Bel Air hardtop are universally loved. Traditional and accurately restored, it's everything you'd hope to get in a '57. Beautiful paint, immaculate chrome, and a stunning interior, along with a sweet-running V8 under the hood make this a first-class choice for cruising and shows this summer.

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