My ’59 Bel Air reminds me of the space race
My adventure with the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air began when I was a boy growing up in the period of the “great race to the moon.” I always admired the “Slimline Design” Bel Air of that year because it somehow reminded me of the pursuit of space.
I purchased my four-door Bel Air on eBay in January 2015 from a vintage dealer in Dothan, Alabama. Sedans often don’t get as much love as coupes and convertibles, but mine was in great shape and was a terrific example of the “everyman’s car.” After I did some research, I discovered my Bel Air was built at the General Motors Janesville Assembly Plant in Wisconsin. I have no information on what happened to the car for the next 49 years. (I am hoping to fill in the details of that time period someday.) By 2008, the car was in Phoenix, and in 2014, it sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Jacksonville, Florida, to the dealership.
It took over two months to get the car home, but I was so happy to finally see it sitting in my driveway. I immersed myself fully into the vintage car culture here in Windsor, and I’ve listened to many memorable stories from people who stop on the street to admire the Bel Air when I’m out and about.
I had the car lightly restored, and I’ve since had to repair a few things that were wrong with it, but I kept it as authentic as I could during the process. One of these days, I’ll get to a full restoration to truly make my Bel Air a show car. In the meantime, you can see it in the upcoming movie Vampire Zombies … From Space!
It took a lot of saving and a long 56 years to acquire the car that my younger self desired, and I wouldn’t trade the joy it brings me.
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In the late ’60s and early ’70s, I hung around with a guy who had a ’59 Impala coupe with a 348, and his mother drove a 4-door Bel Air with SBC like yours. The whole family was so proud of those two cars, because it made them feel like The Jetsons in the sort of frumpy neighborhood where they lived (where one could see plenty of ’40s fat fender sedans and a few ’50s and early ’60s pick-up trucks). They truly felt like they were part of the space age.
My very first car was a 1960 Bel Air (or Biscayne?) two door coupe – 3 speed, floor shift, with a 327 “3/4 Cam” engine – that I promptly blew up and replaced with a slightly later model (mileage ??) 283 out of a Pontiac (which was as quick – or quicker) Great memories – back seat small enought for me to sleep in, great car. Unfortunately, here in Ontario, Can. the winters & rust were not it’s friend. Only lasted for a year and a half, then it went to the “old Chevy home in the sky” so to speak. Would love to find another – just on account, but hey —–
Love the bat wings and the car & color is awesome!