The Years Haven't Been Kind to This 1959 Chevy Bel Air, Strong Impala Ambitions

1959 Bel Air 10 photos
Photo: Craigslist
1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air1959 Chevy Bel Air
Nobody can deny that driving a Bel Air in the '50s was the peak of maximum coolness. Everybody owned a Bel Air, including Elvis, so it was no surprise that Chevy's sales went through the roof.
However, the last year of the decade ended up becoming particularly challenging for carmakers, and the Bel Air got hit, too.

Chevrolet refreshed its full-size lineup at the right moment, so in 1958, when the entire auto industry in the States was struggling, models like the Bel Air and the Impala propelled the company to the number one spot after years of Ford dominance.

The Impala was almost an overnight hit, with sales going through the roof from the first day of availability. The Impala debuted as the top Bel Air version but graduated to a stand-alone series a year later.

Beginning in 1959, the Bel Air and the Impala became separate products despite still sharing almost everything, including styling and engines.

A 1959 Bel Air landed on Craigslist this week, and despite promising a solid restoration candidate, the photos could scare some restorers away. It's a rough Bel Air that looks like it's been sitting for several years, exhibiting all the problems people in the restoration business hate: missing parts, a wrecked interior, and plenty of rust.

However, it doesn't mean this Bel Air is a complete wreck. It certainly isn't, and the all-original setup is a fantastic selling point. It's hard to find a 1959 Bel Air that hasn't been messed with, and this example could be a good starting point for a complete restoration.

Unfortunately, the car comes without an engine. The good news is that finding a correct mill isn't difficult in a market filled with full-size Chevys. The 348, which was the top offering on the 1959 Bel Air and Impala, would be a great pick for someone planning to restore this car, though it's unknown if the car rolled off the assembly lines with a six-cylinder unit or a V8 under the hood.

Otherwise, you must expect the typical problems on this Bel Air, including rusty floors. The owner says you'll find metal damage on the rear floorboards and the rear trunk pan, but the front floor is still solid. The rockers are in decent shape, and the frame looks good.

The interior doesn't look encouraging, but it's unclear if something big is missing, as you'll first have to clean the cabin before determining its condition.

Saving this Bel Air starts with a $5,000 investment, as the owner isn't willing to let the car go cheaply. They claim the price is firm, so your best option is to go see the Bel Air in person before committing to a purchase to make sure it's the right project for you.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

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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