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 Page 1 of 2 12
Username Post: What makes a Bel Air?        (Topic#268312)
Zygmo 
Contributor
Posts: 545
Zygmo
Loc: Arkansas
Reg: 11-09-09
08-27-11 12:00 PM - Post#2130791    

Hey, guys. I have noticed many times here people saying they would be mad if they bought a 210, thinking it was a Bel Air.

I understand, if you are building a car by the numbers, where everything has to match, that would be a problem.

However, as far as I was ever able to tell, the only difference in a Bel Air and the other versions...was trim, and what's on the title, which itself is not always accurate, for that matter. Is that true, about that being the only way to tell? I know of at least three tri-fives that did not match their original titles. One was a 56 two door wagon, that did not say how many doors, and one was a 1957 wagon, that did not say SW. The numbers on the titles did match the SNs on the cars, however. My wife's 210 had the letter denoting Bel Air on it's title and tag on the door, but was all original 210, down to the paint and tires, when we bought it. And who knows how many cars have had their frames changed and no longer match the SNs.

So, other than for a car by numbers...who cares? You will probably change engines, to one that was not available in 1957, and tires and wheels, interior, audio, etc.

I don't think I would care if I bought a Bel Airized 210, without even being told. After all, I would probably buy the parts and change it anyway, so it would still end up costing me the difference, either way.
Dean

57 Chevy 4dr Bel Air Wagon My Pix


 
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4dr 57 
"6th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 3394
4dr 57
Loc: The Texas Hill Country
Reg: 11-10-04
08-27-11 03:17 PM - Post#2130841    
    In response to Zygmo

i don't know either but recently I was visiting a car show and a man asked me if it (my 4drht) was a real BA, and before I could answer someone else said yes, it's a real BA. So there must be some way, a rather obvious way, to tell the difference.

Oh, I have seen an authentic 2dr post BA too.

Stanley
The trouble is you think you have time - Buddha




 
57belairman 
"11th Year" Platinum Supporting Member
Posts: 2956
57belairman
Age: 65
Loc: Missouri City Texas USA
Reg: 03-16-02
08-27-11 03:26 PM - Post#2130845    
    In response to 4dr 57

Its in your vin CXXXXXXXXXXX or VCXXXXXXXX
Life is short, Eat dessert first, I always do!!

Picturetrail
57 2dr ht red
57 Convertible black
57 Nomad larkspur blue
57 3100 Pickup
55 2dr Sedan
56 Suburban


 
56sedandelivery 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3394

Age: 63
Loc: Everett, Wa.
Reg: 02-26-08
08-27-11 04:47 PM - Post#2130878    
    In response to Zygmo

I'm one of those guys that likes things plain and simple. So, "Bel Air" really does'nt "mean" anything to me; mention a 150 and I'm all ears. Just recently I insured my "new" Sedan Delivery (56). When the policy came it noted "Bel Air"; well, a lot of companies and people seem to focus on "Bel Air" as what ALL tri-fives are. When I tried to go the Hagerty/Grundy route, only "Bel Air" comes up on THEIR description (?). I looked at my policy in detail today, with reading glasses on this time, and it says "1959 Bel Air". What the???? I called them, and they said they go by the VIN; I told them the VIN says it's a 56. I was'nt even going to get into the "Bel Air" terminology. BUT, I "pity-the-fool" that calls any of my Sedan Deliveries (three now) a "Nomad"! HaHa. Butch/56sedandelivery.



 
HYPR 
"12th Year" Platinum Supporting Member
Posts: 10381
HYPR
Age: 62
Loc: Shaking and Burning!
Reg: 07-19-01
08-27-11 04:59 PM - Post#2130882    
    In response to 56sedandelivery

As an owner of a '56 DelRey I have finally given up when someone says "Hey Nice BelAir". I used to take the time to patiently explain the difference in an effort to educate, but now I just say thank you. The only name that bothers me is the occassional KIA who tries to tell his buddies that it's a '55 or a '57 and even that only gets a rather obvious eye roll from me before I turn around with my head shaking back and forth.
As I see it at least I'm not my buddy Bruce who's '37 Slatback gets the occassional "Wow nice PT Cruiser Dude!"
Bob
http://www.cardomain.com/ride/222599
To be born a Redneck is by chance, to live as one is by choice!
Preserving the Redneck tradition one day at a time!


 
4dr 57 
"6th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 3394
4dr 57
Loc: The Texas Hill Country
Reg: 11-10-04
08-27-11 06:55 PM - Post#2130916    
    In response to HYPR

Usually all I get around here are people asking the year. They all seemed to have owned a 56.

A buddy once had a 35 or 37 dodge. It was still stock when I saw it. Beautiful cars!
The trouble is you think you have time - Buddha




 
Big T 
"9th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 2414

Loc: Simi Valley CA
Reg: 04-14-06
08-27-11 11:17 PM - Post#2130968    
    In response to Zygmo

On my 55, there where certain upgrades. Wonderbar radio, deluxe heat control head on the dash..All stainless around the front and back windows. Stainless over and under the side windows. Stainless on the "A" and "C" piliars Elec/mech overdrive, mid belt line stainless.

I have the had the car since 1964 and this is the way it came from the original owner. There is always the chance he made changes, but that doesn't sound like much of that, if any, happened in the mid 60's
Tom

55 4 door BelAir


 
wagonman100 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 13553
wagonman100
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Reg: 11-27-04
08-28-11 07:03 AM - Post#2131027    
    In response to Zygmo

Bel Air was just a trim level, but it was denoted in the VIN with a C. Many tri-fives have been Bel Airized, but usually the conversion is not complete, especially on '57s where the Bel Air had longer fin cap moldings and requires quite a bit of work to change over for the pins that hold the molding on. I personally never care about how the car started it's life since I will change it to my tastes later anyway. But if someone were selling a vehicle for a higher price because they were representing it as a Bel Air when it really wasn't, I would point it out and probably talk them down a bit on the price.

As for cars that the titles don't match the numbers on the car, that can turn into a sticky situation when trying to register the vehicle. The frame can be changed, but the VIN tag should be the one that came on the car, or at least match the title. The VIN on my wagon isn't the original one (it's for a sedan delivery), but it matches the title, so there is no trouble registering it. I would never try to sell it as a windowed delivery (actually I will probably never sell it). The person that sold it to me didn't say it was a delivery either, just as a 210 wagon. The cowl tag has the correct number for a 210 wagon. The cowl tag is another area that people will tend to forget to change when doing a Bel Air conversion as well.
Jay
Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.

1999 Silverado Z71 4X4 extra-cab short bed
1983 Malibu Fauxmad - tubbed
1978 El Camino Kustomized
1972 Monte Carlo
1957 210 handyman wagon
1957 Nomad sport wagon


 
Brian D from NJ 
Senior Member
Posts: 404
Brian D from NJ
Loc: Riverside, New Jersey
Reg: 04-28-04
08-28-11 07:10 AM - Post#2131032    
    In response to 57belairman

  • 57belairman Said:
Its in your vin CXXXXXXXXXXX or VCXXXXXXXX



I agree.
Just because your car/truck was "Made In America" doesn't mean it's American made... think about it. Buy American First.


 
acardon 
Senior Member
Posts: 9870
acardon
Loc: DFW TEXAS
Reg: 03-25-05
08-28-11 07:16 AM - Post#2131035    
    In response to Brian D from NJ

Are you buying the car or the numbers? If your buying the numbers, you should know if it's a cloan. If your buying the car and like it, it doesn't matter.

Don
66 Corvair (driving)
57 2dr HT (driving)
56 2dr HT (waiting to be restored)


 
jeffs55 
Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 11783
jeffs55
Age: 55
Loc: Shelby Forest, Tennessee
Reg: 01-05-06
08-28-11 08:54 AM - Post#2131072    
    In response to acardon

With the way you could mix and match back then, there's probably a Bel Air Delivery somewhere.
I'm with the numbers/do you like it crowd.
If you must have the numbers, fine. Just be sure they're all correct.
If you like the car for what it is and what it looks like, numbers don't matter.
As long as they match the title etc.
Jeff
55 Handyman
66 F100 project
32 3 Window Coupe project
1996 Silverado short bed extended cab
1948 Studebaker Champion
1977 Toyota Celica Coupe
My Pics


 
Zygmo 
Contributor
Posts: 545
Zygmo
Loc: Arkansas
Reg: 11-09-09
08-28-11 09:33 AM - Post#2131086    
    In response to jeffs55

Several of you have said it's in the VIN. I know that...but that is just a number. Apparently that does not mean the car is in any way different from the others...except in the trim, and that number. How many tri-fives that originally came out with 6 cylinders are now sporting V8s, yet their VIN does not have a V? There is very rarely even a legal problem with wrong numbers on these early cars, as long as the numbers are the same on the VIN Tag, and the title. It is a good thing too, since so many of them don't match the configuration of the car!
Dean

57 Chevy 4dr Bel Air Wagon My Pix


 
mikeski 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1017
mikeski
Loc: Massachusetts
Reg: 03-26-05
08-28-11 03:18 PM - Post#2131175    
    In response to Zygmo

  • Zygmo Said:
Hey, guys. I have noticed many times here people saying they would be mad if they bought a 210, thinking it was a Bel Air.
I understand, if you are building a car by the numbers, where everything has to match, that would be a problem.However, as far as I was ever able to tell, the only difference in a Bel Air and the other versions...was trim, and what's on the title, which itself is not always accurate, for that matter. Is that true, about that being the only way to tell? I know of at least three tri-fives that did not match their original titles. One was a 56 two door wagon, that did not say how many doors, and one was a 1957 wagon, that did not say SW. The numbers on the titles did match the SNs on the cars, however. My wife's 210 had the letter denoting Bel Air on it's title and tag on the door, but was all original 210, down to the paint and tires, when we bought it. And who knows how many cars have had their frames changed and no longer match the SNs.So, other than for a car by numbers...who cares? You will probably change engines, to one that was not available in 1957, and tires and wheels, interior, audio, etc.
I don't think I would care if I bought a Bel Airized 210, without even being told. After all, I would probably buy the parts and change it anyway, so it would still end up costing me the difference, either way.



I suppose the answer for you is related to the forum you posted the question in. If you want a tri five chevy to modify, the differnce between a 210 and a Bel Air might not matter much. The Wonderbar radio probably wouldn't last long anyway. If you are looking for a car to restore then there is a difference, especially for the top end models. I checked the NADA and a 57 Bel Air 2dr hardtop sport coupe has a average resale value of $6000 more than a 210 2dr hardtop sport coupe with the same options.

MikeSki

I would like to add that I would never modify an original car. There are tons of somewhat modfied cars available to work with. Even 4 dr station wagons are getting scarce.
http://community.webshots.com/user/sroski


Edited by mikeski on 08-28-11 03:23 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
57tim 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2734
57tim
Loc: Cameron, Wi, USA
Reg: 11-09-01
08-28-11 03:33 PM - Post#2131179    
    In response to mikeski

I would bet that most Bel aire conversions of 57 210 HT would not have the interior stainless trim over the side windows installed.
57 Bel Air 2dr Ht
327 700r4
http://www.picturetrail.com/tmneid


 
Highlander1 
"4th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 1415

Loc: SE North Carolina
Reg: 08-19-04
08-28-11 04:25 PM - Post#2131200    
    In response to 57tim

"I would bet that most Bel aire conversions of 57 210 HT would not have the interior stainless trim over the side windows installed."

If I had a 57 210 2dr hardtop it would stay that way. I think that it is the best looking one in the bunch. There is an all black one with three on the tree and, I believe, FI, occasionally featured in one of the catalogs. Its a little more subtle than the BA but with the same great lines.

 
rj_ly 
"6th Year" Gold Supporting Member & Tri-5 Calendar Creator
Posts: 17575
rj_ly
Loc: Southwestern OH
Reg: 11-15-02
08-28-11 06:16 PM - Post#2131222    
    In response to Highlander1

  • Quote:
With the way you could mix and match back then, there's probably a Bel Air Delivery somewhere



More then one. I have pictures.

I constantly hear " Nice Nomad" to my 150 WAgon and windowed Delivery.

And people have said to me before, "Nice BelAir" thinking ALL '57 Chevies are BelAirs.

That's why it's up to us owners to educate the non-knowing public.

I won't even get started on the BelAir-erized 210s.
57 Hrdtp(mine for 40 YEARS JULY 12)
57 210 4-dr Sdn(37 yrs Aug 12)
57 Hrdtp(32 yrs Jan 12)
57(windowed)S. Delivery(31 yrs Oct 12)
57 150 Wgn(24 yrs Mar 12)
57 210 2-dr Sdn(8 yrs Oct 12)


 
1956cpe 
"9th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 884
1956cpe
Loc: Carlsbad, CA
Reg: 07-07-04
08-28-11 06:40 PM - Post#2131248    
    In response to Zygmo

I agree with the idea of keeping totally stock, original tri five the way it was from the factory if your goal is originality. Most of us on this modified forum have made lots of changes. Variety is what is cool, IMO. It is funny what people will say to you though, about "having one just like it, but red and white 4 dr. 55 or 57" or whatever.
One thing that I may do some day is change the Bel-Air paint scheme on my car back to the 210 style or solid color.

pete

 
5Larry7 
"11th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 1753
5Larry7
Loc: Dallas, TX
Reg: 05-17-04
08-28-11 07:41 PM - Post#2131277    
    In response to 1956cpe

When I found my '57 I debated for a while if I even wanted to buy it because it was a 210 sedan (post). I had always dreamed of having a Bel Air hardtop. I did buy it and started accumulating Bel Air parts. But over time I got used to it being a 210 and kept it bone stock on the outside, I even put all the Chevrolet name plates on, (which if I had it to do over I would leave off). Like many of you, I get asked a lot if it is a Bel Air. Someday when/if I sell it, I'm sure it won't bring the same money that a Bel Air will. It is considerably modified under the hood and under the car, so maybe it won't be as much as I think. But it is a Tri-Five and I do enjoy having it and driving it and I get plenty of thumbs up when I am on the road.
'57 210, Blown 327 cid, Holley HP TBI, 700R4, A/C
'51 Studebaker Starlite coupe, 350, TH400, GV OD.
'96 Replica of a 1950's Teardrop Trailer.


 
swbatt 
West Coast Show Support
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swbatt
Reg: 03-25-01
08-28-11 08:22 PM - Post#2131287    
    In response to 5Larry7

"But it is a Tri-Five and I do enjoy having it and driving it and I get plenty of thumbs up when I am on the road."
Bingo, for me too.

"Which do I prefer? Chess or sex? It depends on the position." - Spassky


 
wagonman100 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 13553
wagonman100
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Reg: 11-27-04
08-29-11 04:26 AM - Post#2131329    
    In response to swbatt

I guess I'll really have people confused when I do my Handyman. It will have a delivery gate, 150 side trim with the 210 window trim still in place and I am going to put the belt line dip in the quarters and possibly even have '58 Nomad bars on the gate. It will also probably get the Nomad fin cap trim. I am also considering putting the '58 fender gills in place of the '57 gills. Plus it already has a '57 Buick grille. Like I said, I like to modify them to my taste.
Jay
Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.

1999 Silverado Z71 4X4 extra-cab short bed
1983 Malibu Fauxmad - tubbed
1978 El Camino Kustomized
1972 Monte Carlo
1957 210 handyman wagon
1957 Nomad sport wagon


 
Zygmo 
Contributor
Posts: 545
Zygmo
Loc: Arkansas
Reg: 11-09-09
08-29-11 06:13 AM - Post#2131354    
    In response to 57tim

  • 57tim Said:
I would bet that most Bel aire conversions of 57 210 HT would not have the interior stainless trim over the side windows installed.



To be honest with you, Tim....I did not even know there were 1957 Chevy Factory HTs that weren't Bel Airs!
Dean

57 Chevy 4dr Bel Air Wagon My Pix


 
cnbell 
"11th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 8936
cnbell
Loc: So Cal
Reg: 04-14-04
08-29-11 09:38 AM - Post#2131407    
    In response to Zygmo

I would love to have a 55 210 hardtop, you never see them.

I actually considered turning my 55 Bel Air hardtop into a 210...
Craig

http://www.picturetrail.com/cnbell


 
Zygmo 
Contributor
Posts: 545
Zygmo
Loc: Arkansas
Reg: 11-09-09
08-29-11 05:21 PM - Post#2131591    
    In response to cnbell

  • cnbell Said:
I would love to have a 55 210 hardtop, you never see them.

I actually considered turning my 55 Bel Air hardtop into a 210...



Well...that's a new one!
Dean

57 Chevy 4dr Bel Air Wagon My Pix


 
forspar 
Senior Member
Posts: 695
forspar
Loc: florissant,mo.,usa
Reg: 08-19-01
08-29-11 07:45 PM - Post#2131680    
    In response to wagonman100

Sounds like the old Johnny Cash song,"I got it one piece at a time."
Rick 55 2dr wagon in progress http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=6031928&uid=2981539&members=1


 
wagonman100 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 13553
wagonman100
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Reg: 11-27-04
08-30-11 04:22 AM - Post#2131770    
    In response to forspar

  • forspar Said:
Sounds like the old Johnny Cash song,"I got it one piece at a time."



Especially when you throw in the donors for the drivetrain, interior, etc.
Jay
Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.

1999 Silverado Z71 4X4 extra-cab short bed
1983 Malibu Fauxmad - tubbed
1978 El Camino Kustomized
1972 Monte Carlo
1957 210 handyman wagon
1957 Nomad sport wagon


 
Zygmo 
Contributor
Posts: 545
Zygmo
Loc: Arkansas
Reg: 11-09-09
08-30-11 06:24 AM - Post#2131796    
    In response to forspar

Well...I would have to say virtually every tri-five I have owned were assembled from pieces of numerous cars. They all needed something...some more than others. For instance..my 56 wagon had been used as a chicken house, before being given to me. Lacked a hood, all the interior and various trim pieces. Had plenty of feathers and straw, though...and um....other stuff.
Dean

57 Chevy 4dr Bel Air Wagon My Pix


 
MikeMiloserdoff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 2

Loc: California
Reg: 09-04-11
09-04-11 10:59 AM - Post#2133592    
    In response to Zygmo

The BEST way to tell a bel-air is by the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) plate. A 1955 - 1957 Chevy car that was manufactured as a Bel-Air will ALWAYS start with "VCxxxxxxxxx", the V denoting a V-8, which all Bel-Air's were equipped with, and the "C" denoting "body style "C", which was the Bel-Air body style. I have a website for 57 Chevy's, including VIN decoding, http://www.che57vy.com, and the VIN decoding is good for 55's thru 57's.

 
nstlga 
"9th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 737
nstlga
Loc: Colorado
Reg: 12-01-05
09-04-11 11:05 AM - Post#2133593    
    In response to MikeMiloserdoff

Not all BelAirs were V8s.
He who dies with the most toys doesn't necessarily win, but had more fun getting to the finish line.


 
MikeMiloserdoff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 2

Loc: California
Reg: 09-04-11
09-04-11 11:53 AM - Post#2133604    
    In response to nstlga

You're right, and I stand corrected ! I just did some research, I've have had a '57 since 1977, and remembered it incorrectly to be Bel-Air = V-8.

 
acardon 
Senior Member
Posts: 9870
acardon
Loc: DFW TEXAS
Reg: 03-25-05
09-04-11 11:55 AM - Post#2133605    
    In response to nstlga

  • Quote:
the V denoting a V-8, which all Bel-Air's were equipped with,



Welcome to Chevy Talk, Mike.
My Dad bought a new 55 BelAir station wagon that had a 6 cylinder in it and I had a 55 BelAir 2dr post in 1957 that had a 6 cylinder in it.
Don
66 Corvair (driving)
57 2dr HT (driving)
56 2dr HT (waiting to be restored)


 
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