Cars like this 1951 Chevy Bel Air hardtop are truly a labor of love. While most 1st generation Bel Airs are relegated to the parts car column for their more valuable Tri-5 convertible and hardtop siblings from the subsequent generation, actually locating and restoring one like this is a financial proposition that doesn't often come out in favor of the owner. That's why this nicely preserved and refreshed 2-door is such a great find, and with a period color combination and a dependable straight six motor, it will be impressing everywhere it goes for years to come.
The Bel Air was, of course, Chevy's top-of-the-line model in 1951, and the 2-door hardtop was the most sought-after body style if you wanted a roof. Fortunately, this lovely Fathom Green '51 escaped the parts car fate that many of its siblings faced, and instead seemed to have always led an easy life before it was treated to a nice restoration just a few years ago. The bodywork is quite straight, and if you doп't think making those big doors fit this well is a challenge, then you've probably never tried to lift one on your own. The two-tone finish (the roof is a lighter shade of green, a super cool combination that's very common for this vintage) is very smooth and shines up well, and aside from a few minor imperfections that can only be spotted upon close inspection, it looks great and can be shown off with confidence. Chevy designers gave it plenty of chrome and bright details, all of which have been faithfully restored or replaced and pop brightly up against the green paint. Even items like the light lenses, hood ornament and badge, fender skirts, and “De Luxe” script in the fender trim looks great, finishing off the period look wonderfully.
Bel Air hardtops were serious cars, and the green and white fabric and vinyl interior reflects this car's job of carrying businessmen to work. Subtle and nicely finished, it looks very 1950s without the flash of pastel colors and excessive drama. The bench seats are quite comfortable thanks to supportive foam and quality fabrics, and both doors offer neatly styled panels that belie the Chevy's workday origins. Like most of these cars, the original owner selected a 3-speed manual transmission from the factory, but skipped frivolities like the radio. But heat was selected as an option too, and we're happy to report that it's working great. In back, there's an impressive amount of space, and any passengers you carry will feel like they received a first-class ticket, which really is the point of these cool old cars. A careful examination of the trunk will reveal a period-correct rubber mat and full-size bias-ply spare and jack set that could very well be the car's original units.
The 216 cubic inch straight six remains under the hood just like it came from the factory, and from what we can gather from the casting, we believe it to be the original motor the car was born with. Turbine-smooth, it is one of the most reliable powerplants of the period and still moves the car with aplomb. It shows careful maintenance following the restoration, starts easily, and combined with the 3-speed manual transmission, is as easy to drive as any modern iron. The chassis is remarkably solid and nicely presented, with satin black dusted on the frame and pans for a high-end look. The single exhaust system has a chambered muffler providing a nice rumble that's not at all obnoxious, and it rides on shiny Bowtie wheels wrapped in 6.70-15 Firestone whitewall bias-plys that look right.
Common when new, but quite unusual today, this Bel Air is a rarely-seen treat that's still a great bargain in the collector car world. Call now!