It was the summer of '64 and I'd been working odd jobs after school and during the summers for years. I'd worked doing everything from washing windows, cars, and airplanes, to working in a bowling alley, and mowing lawns...and I'd finally saved enough to buy my very first car. After a lengthy search I located the object of my obsession, a 1957 Bel Air, in Tacoma, WA (much more difficult to do before the internet and Interstate) that seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, and it was in my price range. The seller was asking $1300.00, which was at the top end of my "budget"; in other words, almost all that I had. As soon as I laid eyes on that beauty I knew that she was mine. I plunked down his full asking price, did the paperwork, and was on the way with my new baby…and she was nearly perfect!
This red and white two door hardtop had been very well cared for, and I continued that care. I washed her EVERY day, and waxed her at least twice a month if not more often. Friends, family, and girlfriends all told me that I was going to wash the paint right off…and I swear I nearly did. The 283 became a 327/365 hp, with tranny and rear end upgrades. Fortunately I worked at a Texaco station so I had full use of the lifts after hours and could do most of the work myself.
This car saw me through my senior year of HS, and then some. We went everywhere together…road trips and races, both drag, and submarine. Cruising the hot spots in the Seattle area, and cutting donuts on the coastal beaches. Too much fun, and millions of memories. I don't think anybody actually knew my name; I was "…the tall guy with the red 57…" OK by me.
I was "convinced" to sell this car when I got engaged to my first wife…we needed "something practical" I recall hearing, hundreds of times, so off she went (the car, not the fiancé, darn) to another kid who I'm sure enjoyed her as much as I did. Hopefully he didn't get married so young and was able to keep and enjoy her for many years.
As with nearly every car I've owned, I regret selling her; really regret it. And I've often wondered if she's still out there on the road somewhere (between car shows) these days. I don't remember all the details of her build (I didn't care), but to this day it's the only '57 Bel Air that I've ever seen that had a padded dashboard. I've asked a few gear heads, and none seem to know anything about the padded dash, they speculate that it was added aftermarket. Nope, it was definitely a stock option.
Now, 5 decades later, I've just taken delivery of a new C7 Corvette. It's so far advanced that it makes that ol' 57 feel and look like a covered wagon…but oh what a classy ride that old wagon was. And no, I don't wash and wax the C7 myself, and I don't work on it…heck, I probably couldn't find a spark plug, much less overhaul the rear end.