1957 Chevrolet 2-door Bel Air Sport Coupe

Owner: Dave Ramstad


 

Introducing "Miss June Bug", my prized and well loved '57 sport coupe. Acquired from Lynnwood's Kompact Kar Korner in 2004, and named after my mom's childhood nickname, she is my reward for surviving the working world and making it to retirement in one piece, and with most of my marbles.

This machine could equally be called "The Mystery Lady", since I have no restoration or ownership history for the car before 2000. Research revealed that she began life at the Tarrytown, New York, factory as a six cylinder with three speed finished in Matador Red and Ivory, but did not arrive in Washington state until 1979. Olympia records show 5 owners in Washington between 1979 and 2000, but I have been unsuccessful finding their names or contacting any of them. The longest period of ownership was in the late 1990s, when I believe the car underwent her rebuild / restoration.

Power is a mildly warmed over 1961 283 with cam, Weiand manifold and Holley 4 barrel, gear cam drive, Muncie M-22 4 speed box, and original 3:55 rear axle. Exterior and interior are completely stock, but the car runs 2" dropped spindles and front power disc brakes, and she starts and drives perfectly, as only an old Chevy should.

I ask my fellow club members to help me solve the mystery of this car's past. If you should recognize the car or recall seeing it at Kompact either in 2000 or in 2004, shoot me all you know. I will be forever grateful!!  - Dave Ramstad



















 

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
For 1957, the Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
wore flashy fins and an updated grille.

 

The 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air epitomized the newly-facelifted Chevy line and led the way for the '57 Chevy to become one of American's most memorable cars. What's hard to believe is that so many shoppers shunned Chevrolets back then, turning instead to restyled Fords.

Chevy trailed Ford in model-year output by 170,000 cars, as Plymouth rose to number three. Not until years later was the '57 recognized by many as the sharpest Chevy of the decade -- best looking of the 1955-57 "classic" era, if not the make's full life span -- as well as an engineering marvel.

Sure, the basic design was getting a little dated, but masterful reworking cleverly concealed the car's origins, making it look almost brand-new. Riding new 14-inch rubber, Chevrolets stood 2.5 inches longer and 1.5 inches lower. Twin lance-shaped windsplits down the hood substituted for the customary ornament. Modest, if sharp, fins brought up the rear -- a mere hint of things to come.

Bel Airs came in seven models, wearing anodized aluminum trim panels on their rear bodysides. In pastel shades, such as turquoise and white, a '57 convertible or Sport Coupe is enough to send shivers through many an enthusiast today, especially when it's loaded with factory extras.

Nomad again was the costliest Bel Air, with just 6,103 built -- far below the 166,426 Sport Coupes and 47,562 ragtops. For every Nomad, more than four times as many Bel Air Townsman four-door wagons were purchased. The best-selling Bel Air was a practical pillared four-door sedan.

Under the hood, customers could get anything from the long-lived six or 265-cubic-inch V-8, to half a dozen interpretations of the enlarged 283-cubic-inch engine. Some Bel Airs even carried fuel-injected V-8s, on loan from Corvette and whipping up as much as 283 horsepower -- one horse­power per cubic inch -- in an ordinary passenger car from the low-priced three.

It seemed only fitting that Ed Cole, who'd been responsible for the original V-8 and its offshoots, now served as Chevrolet's general manager.

 

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible,
the iconic "'57 Chevy" prized by collectors.

 

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Facts

Model

Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

Bel Air

3,232-3,465

$2,238-$2,757

702,220