Suspect Survivor: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon – Sold?

by | Aug 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

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October 17, 2023, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The term “Survivor” gets thrown around quite a bit these days in the collector car world.  Unfortunately, the definition of what makes a car a “True Survivor” of ten receives inconsistent interpretations.  Our definition, which many others agree with, is that a survivor is a car featuring virtually all of its original paint, interior, and equipment save for maintenance and parts requiring replacement.

Sadly, the seller of this red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air wagon for sale, last seen on Craigslist in August 2023 in Big Fork, Montana, does not understand that definition.  While their ’57 Chevy for sale may have been what they describe as “a true survivor” when they bought it has been transformed into what many call “sympathetically restored.” This 1957 Bel Air now falls into the latter category between the updated interior and a disc brake upgrade.

Last offered for $30,000,, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is well below this guide’s six-month rolling results trend for all 1957 Chevrolet Bel Airs of all body styles, both stock and restomodded.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $22,000 and its #3 “Very Good” appraisal of $31,500.

Chevrolet first used the Bel Air brand name on its two-door pillarless hardtop models of the early 1950s. Chevrolet launched the second-generation Bel Air for the 1955 model year.  As the top trim level in Chevrolet’s lineup, Bel Airs came with features found on cars in the lower model ranges, plus interior carpet, chrome headliner bands on hardtops, chrome spears on front fenders, stainless steel window moldings, full wheel covers, and a Ferrari-inspired front grille. Models were further distinguished by the Bel Air name script in gold lettering later in the year.

Initially, General Motors executives wanted an entirely new car for 1957, but production delays necessitated the 1955–56 design for one more year.  Ed Cole, the chief engineer for Chevrolet, dictated a series of changes that significantly increased the cost of the car. These changes included a new dashboard, a sealed cowl, and the relocation of air ducts to the headlight pods, which resulted in the distinctive chrome headlight that helped make the ’57 Chevrolet a classic. Fourteen-inch wheels replaced the fifteen-inch wheels from previous years to give the car a lower stance, and a wide grille was used to give the car a wider look from the front.

The now-famous ’57 Chevrolet tailfins were designed to duplicate the wide look in the rear. Bel Air models, though maintaining the same chassis, powertrains, and body, were given upscale gold trim: the mesh grille insert and front fender chevrons, as well as the “Chevrolet” script on the hood and trunk, were all rendered in anodized gold. The 1957 model year is often considered one of the most celebrated and distinctive periods in automotive history, and the Bel Air wagon from that year embodies the era’s design and engineering prowess.

Inside, the Bel Air wagon offered comfortable seating for several passengers. Chevrolet engineers designed the interior with a combination of functionality and style, featuring a dashboard with a classic layout that incorporated a mix of analog gauges, chrome accents, and controls. The 1957 Chevrolets did not have an oil pressure gauge or a voltmeter. Depending on the trim level, buyers could opt for various upholstery materials, adding to the personalization of the vehicle.

The 1957 Bel Air wagon was available with a range of engine options to cater to different performance preferences. These options included inline-six and V8 engines. The most famous V8 engine from that era was the 283 cubic inch (4.6-liter) V8, which could be mated to either a manual or automatic transmission. This engine offered impressive power and acceleration for the time.

The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air lineup introduced several technological and comfort innovations, including the wagon variant. These included using fuel injection on certain V8 models, power steering, power brakes, and the availability of air conditioning. These features elevated the driving experience and made the Bel Air wagon a technologically advanced vehicle for its time.

The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air wagon has left an enduring legacy in automotive history. Its distinctive design, performance options, and an array of available features contributed to its popularity among consumers and enthusiasts. Today, the ’57 Bel Air wagon is highly sought after by collectors and classic car aficionados, with well-preserved examples often commanding high prices at auctions and events. In summary, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air wagon is an emblematic representation of 1950s American automotive design, combining aesthetic appeal, engineering innovations, and a dash of nostalgia. Its timeless design and cultural significance continue to captivate car enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

The US Auto Industry YouTube Channel features this 1957 commercial when Chevrolet offered a contest to win any 1957 Bel Air of your choice plus cash:


This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air wagon for sale appears to be well-sorted mechanically as the seller lists all of the recent parts replacements and boldly says the buyer can “Drive it anywhere.” While the refreshed interior features what appears to be proper pattern reproduction seat covers, the headliner and the rear cargo areas feature materials that are not true to the original. That’s a shame as there are excellent reproductions readily available for these cars.

If you are serious about buying this Bel Air, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their ’57 Chevy for sale featured here on Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“This is a true Survivor car. Sold new in Butte Mt to some farmers in Cut Bank Mt. It is a Very honest, solid car. Never been painted or hot-rodded. Original 283, power glide Trans. Everything new underneath. New brakes, shocks u-joints, dual exhaust, and differential just rebuilt. All original except power front disc brakes and electric wipers. New tires Rallye wheels, drive it anywhere. Nicely restored inside. All gauges and lights work. Plus boxes of new and used parts.
Restore or drive as-is: What would you do with this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon for sale? Please comment below and let us know!

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