Reviving a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air Neglected for 45 Years- Rescued Elegance

The Bel Air name is most commonly linked to the Chevrolet Tri-Five series produced from 1955 to 1957, but the badge was offered for much longer than that. The Bel Air can be traced back to 1949 when Chevrolet introduced it on two-door hardtop versions of the Styleline and Fleetline models.

The nameplate remained in production a few decades after the Tri-Five was discontinued, but it lost its range-topping privileges to the Impala and the Caprice. By the late 1960s, it became an entry-level model primarily marketed to fleet customers.

While not quite as glamorous as the Impala, the third- and fourth-gen Bel Air remains a fantastic option if you’re in the market for a classic big Chevy that won’t break the bank. But finding an early fourth-gen car that’s been unrestored and unmolested is quite challenging because these Bel Airs were often abandoned after a few years of use. The 1959 two-door sedan you see here is one of the unlucky ones.

Parked in a yard sometime in the 1970s, this Bel Air spent more time sitting than driving on public roads. There’s no info as to why it was abandoned, but the footage appears to be from Turkey. That’s quite far from the US, and I’m guessing the owner found it way too difficult to source parts once the car broke down.

Not surprisingly, the Bel Air is in terrible condition. The lower body panels are rusty, some chrome trim is missing, and nearly all the windows are broken. The interior looks just as bad after so many years of exposure to the elements.

At the same time, it’s somewhat surprising that most of the car is still in one piece. And from what I can see when the trunk lid is open, this Bel Air may still sport its original paint. The engine is probably locked up after more than 40 years without a sip of gasoline, and its actual condition remains unknown since the hood isn’t opened while the camera is on.

The mill itself is also a mystery, so this Bel Air could rely on any of the three powerplants Chevrolet offered during the 1959 model year. Like all Chevys at the time, the Bel Air came standard with a 235-cubic-inch (3.9-liter) inline-six rated at 135 horsepower.

Customers looking for V8 oomph had access to a series of optional 283-cubic-inch (4.6-liter) units. The Turbo-Fire had 185 horsepower, while the Super Turbo-Fire generated 230 horses. The same mill was available with Ramjet fuel injection and 250 or 290 horsepower that year.

Chevy also offered a 348-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) Turbo-Thrust unit with 210 to 315 horsepower depending on carburetor and transmission configuration. On the flip side, this Bel Air may no longer have its original engine.

So, is this two-door sedan getting a complete restoration? Unfortunately, the footage doesn’t no provide any info about that. The car is being removed from the yard by crane and placed onto a trailer hauled by a Mitsubishi pickup truck. Whether it’s being taken to a repair shop or a junkyard remains unknown, but I sure hope this Bel Air is getting a second chance at life. These 1959 models with almost horizontal rear fins are simply too sexy to be scrapped.

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