HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air

Pick of the Day: 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air

Big-block, 3x2s and a 4-speed

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The 1964 Pontiac GTO is generally acknowledged as the first muscle car, but it would be unfair to say performance cars built before 1964 were not muscle cars. One of the more interesting early muscle cars is our Pick of the Day, this 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Volo, Ill. (Click the link to view the listing)

348cid V8 engine
348cid V8 engine

The big-block Chevy had its genesis in the mid-1950s, as Chevrolet wanted to develop an engine to handle the increasing weight of its passenger cars, not to mention have a torquier engine for its trucks. Known as the “W” engine (an internal name, not due to the shape of the heads), it found fame in 1962 with 409 by the Beach Boys. But it was the 348 from 1958-61 that spearheaded big-block Chevrolet performance. In normal tune, the Turbo-Thrust 348 was rated at 250 horsepower with a 4bbl. and 280 horses with three two-barrel carburetors, but high-performance fans could buy solid-lifter versions with 305 or 320 horses depending on carburetion.

In 1959, those numbers were bumped up to 320 and 335 horsepower. In addition, Chevrolet made a factory 4-speed available for the first time after being a factory-sanctioned dealer-installed item the year before. This particular Bel Air 2-door Sedan has the latter combination: Super Turbo-Thrust Special with 335 horses with tri-carb induction and a 4-speed, plus Positraction rear axle with 4.11 gears.

Anyone could build a car like this and make a claim it’s real, but the seller says, “We have a notarized affidavit of authenticity stating this car is genuine from three people including the original owner! We also have original finance contract when the first owner bought the car new,” including registrations in the original owner’s name up to 1991. That year, he sold it to Ennis Lund, who spent the next 10 years making this Bel Air better than new.

Look around and you’ll see pristine treatment everywhere, from the panel gaps to the way the hood, trunk and doors close. Inside, the upholstery, door panels, carpet and headliner were replaced, and all the gauges and switch gear work as they should. Engine is restored to factory specs or better: “Every component is rebuilt. Correct hoses and clamps. Every painted surface is smooth. This is as nice as they get.”

1959 Chevrolet Bel Air
1959 Chevrolet Bel Air

For 1959 Chevrolets, it may not get better than this … unless you’re pining for a Fuelie. If you’re a fan of 409s and 427 big cars, then this is the Granddaddy of the bunch. The seller is asking $159,998, which ain’t peanuts but it’s a fine vehicle to show your friends in your garage and beyond.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.

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