Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

Chrome, jet-age styling and rising horsepower drove the American automotive market during the late 1950s, and no automobile combined these three elements better than Chevrolet’s 1957 Bel Air convertible. Its unique styling and distinctive interior and exterior trimmings gave the impression of speed even while the car was at rest, and a large (and growing) list of factory options provided buyers with an unprecedented opportunity to personalize their own Chevrolet.

By 1957, Chevrolet’s “small block” V-8 engine had grown to 283 cubic inches and offered several levels of tune. Choices ranged from the standard two-barrel unit with 185 hp to the “Super Turbo-Fire” or “Power-Pack” setup with 9.5:1 compression, a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, all the way up to the dual-carburetor unit with 270 hp and the rare fuel-injected version with up to 283 hp – one unit of horsepower per cubic inch, a first for American passenger cars. Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, and GM engineering guru Ed Cole produced a car sure to withstand the test of time, and with nearly 48,000 produced, the drop-top 1957 Bel Air was, and remains, a true icon of the American automotive industry.

Part of the RM Auctions event for the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center in August, 2009, the Ritz-Carlton in March, 2010, at the Inn at St. John's in July, 2011, the Ritz-Carlton in March, 2012, for Charlie Thomas in October, 2012 and in London, October, 2012.

283 cu. in. V-8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 115".

Sources: RM Auctions; Mecum Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and Simon Clay

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