Tag Archives: 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sport coupe

Indiana Cars in My Four Car Fantasy Garage

What would be the cars in my “Four Car Fantasy Garage?”

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know my selection will be heavily slanted to Indiana-built automobiles. In fact, my selections are three Hoosier autos plus one domestic built one ranging from 63 to 82 years old.

Twenty Grand Duesenberg
Twenty Grand Duesenberg

My first pick is the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg build for exposition at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The regal Duesenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan is probably one of the most well-known Duesys. Designed by the legendary Duesenberg stylist Gordon Buehrig, the car was bodied in Pasadena by the Walter M. Murphy Company and aptly named for its staggering price in 1933. That price the “Twenty Grand” would buy you 40 new Plymouth business coupes with change to spare! It was the most expensive automobile of the year. This was the ultimate motorcar of the era. No other American car, not Lincoln, or Packard, or even Cadillac, had so powerful an image. Today it resides in the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California.

1936 Cord Model 810 sedan
1936 Cord Model 810 sedan

My second choice was also designed by Gordon Buehrig, the 1936 Cord Model 810. The car debuted at the New York Auto Show on November 2, 1935. The first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. Some of the internationally known celebrities purchasing Cord automobiles were movie stars Sonja Heine and Tom Mix. In fact, actress Jean Harlow ordered a Cord with paint and upholstery to match her platinum blonde hair. The 1951 New York Museum of Modern Art exhibit regarded “the Cord as the outstanding American contribution to automobile design.”

1963 Avanti

My third draft is the 1962 Studebaker Avanti. Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert enlisted Raymond Loewy’s group to design this remarkable sport coupe for introduction at the New York International Auto Show in April 1962, By the fall of 1961, orders were placed with outside suppliers for items that Studebaker could not produce internally. The Avanti is best known for its under-the-bumper air intake and “Coke-bottle,” wedge shape design. The fiberglass body sat on a modified Lark Daytona convertible chassis. Avanti’s safety theme was prominent throughout with a recessed and padded instrument panel with red lights for night vision, built-in roll bar, and safety-cone door locks. The car was also one of the first American passenger cars to use caliper-type disc brakes. Iterations of the Avanti and the Avanti II were produced until 1985. You can still find reasonably priced Avanti’s in today’s vintage automobile market.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
Copyright © 1957 General Motors

Of course, I still have a soft spot in my heart for my first car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe. One of these would be the other car in my fantasy garage. What drew me to my 57 Chevy in 1965, was what still draws me today – styling. I believe this styling of the 1955-1957 Chevrolet’s is the best execution of this “everyman’s car.” From the anodized grille to the sleek tailfins, this car talks to me. My two-tone hardtop had a Canyon Coral body with an India Ivory Top and black interior with silver accents. It was powered by a 283 V-8 and Turboglide transmission. This was one sharp set of wheels. If only knew then what I know, I would have put this automotive icon in a time capsule for today.

So, what would you choose for your “Four Car Fantasy Garage?” Tell us about it.

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My First Car

An Internet search on the term “my first car” yields over a million results. I would like to share the story of my first car and hopefully start a discussion on the topic.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe

During my school break in the summer of 1965, I worked at an engineering company and one of my fellow employees announced that he had a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sport coupe hardtop for sale. This was an opportune event for a genuine car nut in the making. Ever since their introduction eight years earlier, I was drawn to the styling of these cars. So, I quickly arranged a meeting to inspect this automotive icon.


Upon arriving at the meeting, I saw “My First Car” in the flesh. It was a two-tone hardtop with an India Ivory top, Canyon Coral body, and black interior with silver accents. This was one of the most popular combinations for the sport coupe. It was powered by a 283 V-8 and a Turboglide transmission. The car passed the test drive, and I purchased my jewel for only $300.


I was proud of my purchase and couldn’t wait to get home and show this gem to my buddies. That night, we cruised to the Teepee and Pole drive-in restaurants to show my cool car. We also used my car to go to drive-in movies and the weekend drag races at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Those weeks with “my first car” were ideal.


In the fall, I noticed the engine had high oil consumption. After some checking around, I found out the engine needed some major work that I couldn’t afford on my college student earnings. Sadly, I decided to sell the ’57 Chevy and look for another car.


If only I knew then what I know now. I wish I would have kept this automotive icon. Today, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sport coupe hardtops in number 1 condition go for $77,500. If “my first car” was still in this condition, I’d be in one happy auto enthusiast.


There are thousands of stories like mine. So, now it’s your turn. Tell us about your first car.