Bowing for the 1950 model year, the two-door Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe took its name from the wealthy Los Angeles, California, suburb. The Bel Air could only be had in the Deluxe trim.
The 1953 model year brought a facelift for all of the Chevrolet passenger car line. Fisher Body supplied the redesigned skins, there was a new single-piece wraparound windshield, and interior space grew. Available as a two-door hardtop Sport Coupe, four-door sedan, convertible, or a wagon, the Chevy Bel Air became the top trim for all passenger cars.
The second generation of the Chevy Bel Air bowed for the 1955 model year. Sharp new styling combined with considerable standard equipment that included full carpet, chrome arches in the hardtop headliners, chrome front fender spears, stainless window trim, full wheel covers, and gold-tone Bel Air script. The Bel Air came with a standard 162-horsepower 265 cubic-inch V8, or the optional Power Pack that replaced the two-barrel carb bringing power up to 180 horsepower. The Super Power Pack was introduced later in the model year and was good for 195 ponies.
The second-generation Chevy Bel Air was a runaway success, with decent performance, good visibility, and a comfortable ride. Nearly 801,000 units were sold across all 1955 Bel Air versions. These incredible numbers would continue for 1956 and 1957 model years, with 692,530 Bel Airs sold in 1956 and 720,356 sold in 1957.
The 1958 Chevy Bel Air was lower and longer, with a wide grille and two horizontally arranged headlights per side. The tail fins had a painted cove on the sides and dual tail lights at the rear. Available as a four-door station wagon, sedan, two-door coupe, or the upscale new Impala Sport Coupe or convertible, there were numerous options, including the 348 cubic-inch W-code engine rated between 250 and 315 horsepower.
The 1959 model year brought another redesign for the Chevy Bel Air. The wings were flattened, almost bat-like. The 1959 Bel Air was longer and wider, with five more inches of width inside. It still rode on the previous year’s X-frame, but it had to be widened and lengthened for the new body. Taillights had a “cat’s eyes” look. The Impala became its own model, thus supplanting the Bel Air as the top-of-the-line offering.
Little was changed on the Chevy Bel Air for 1960. The cone-style taillights returned, and the grille was more conservative. The side molding had morphed into a “jet” on a raised detail bulge, another nod to the Jet Age. The most powerful engine offering was a 348 topped with three two-barrel carbs, an aggressive cam, and 11.25:1 compression that yielded 335 horsepower.
1961 brought another restyling for the Chevy Bel Air. The “jet” side trim and bulge were replaced by a bright metal spear that ran from just aft of the grille then flared upward to continue across the rear edge of the trunk lid. The 1961 Bel Air was slightly shorter than the year before, but the wheelbase remained the same.
The 1962 Chevy Bel Air sported new sheet metal, with only the door skins from the previous year. A new 250- or 300-horsepower 327 was available, as was a 380-horsepower version of the 409 cube W-head Big Block. 1962 was the final year for the “Bubble Top” Sports Coupe.
Our feature 1962 Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe is finished in Honduras Maroon over a Fawn vinyl and cloth bench seat interior. It is powered by a 409 cubic-inch W-head Big Block backed by a four-speed manual transmission. The Bel Air rolls on painted steel wheels with polished dog dish hub caps wrapped in blackwall bias-ply rubber. It is equipped with a Delco pushbutton radio, tinted windshield, chrome driver’s side mirror, and a column-mounted tachometer. The condition would suggest the car has been well restored, although no such claim has been made.
This exceptional 1957 Chevy Bel Air will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their Harrisburg, Pennsylvania event taking place July 26th through the 29th.