Forgotten 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Hides a Mysterious Engine Under the Hood

1958 Chevy Bel Air 12 photos
Photo: Craigslist
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The Bel Air was the model bringing home the bacon in the late '50s for Chevrolet, but the model year 1958 represented a turning point in the company's full-size lineup.
The GM brand launched the Impala, a new full-size car first presented in 1956 and initially released as a Bel Air version. The Impala was the best you could get from a Chevrolet full-size model, launching as part of the Bel Air lineup in hardtop and convertible body styles.

The Impala was a hit almost overnight, with the Bel Air becoming plan B for customers who wanted to get a full-size Chevy but didn't want to pay for all bells and whistles.

A 1958 Bel Air landed on Craigslist not long ago, promising a solid restoration package with "very little rust spots."

I won't comment too much on what the eyes can see because the car's condition is obvious from the shared photos, but the Bel Air looks like it's been sitting for years on private property. You'd normally expect rusty floors and similar damage in the trunk, but it doesn't seem this is the case. The car is still solid, and the photos confirm minor damage without visible holes (at least at first glance, so you're recommended to inspect the vehicle in person or order a third-party inspection).

The biggest enigma is the engine under the hood. The owner says the mill "has started" but is "unsure of the drivetrain," so you'll have to check everything under the hood in person.

The big news in 1958 was the debut of the almighty 348. It was a new engine available in multiple configurations, eventually becoming the top choice for all full-size Chevy models. The Bel Air could also be had with a six-cylinder unit and the famous 283, albeit everybody wanted the 348 for a boost of performance.

The listing doesn't answer several essential questions, including how complete the Bel Air continues to be today. The good news is that the car doesn't look like it served as a donor for another project, so I don't believe anything big is missing. It's also unclear how original it is, but considering it has likely been sitting for a long time, the chances are that the previous owners didn't replace many parts.

Now, let's talk money.

The owner posted this Bel Air on Craigslist with a $5,200 price tag, and considering its condition and the working engine, it's a fair expectation. However, you'll have to inspect everything in person to tell how prepared this Bel Air is for a complete restoration. The vehicle is parked close to San Bernardino, and you'll need a trailer to take it home despite the working engine. It comes with an Arizona title.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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