1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-dr hard top
Sold at $56,000
RM Sotheby’s, Phoenix, AZ, January 18-19, 2018, Lot 219
One of the more controversial moments of this year’s ACC Insider’s Seminar at Barrett-Jackson came when Carl Bomstead called out Chevrolet’s Tri-Five cars as one of his two “Sell” picks in the current market.
There’s probably no more iconic classic American car than the 1957 Chevrolet, and for years, they’ve been safe bets in terms of value. But as Carl pointed out, the market is changing, and despite the icon status of those ’57 fins, prices aren’t moving up. The buyers who used to chase these cars are thinking more of selling than buying these days, and the next generation collector doesn’t have the sentimental memories of poodle skirts, sock hops, and drive-ins that initially pushed prices up on the ’55s, ’56s and ’57s.
Case in point is this 1957 Bel Air sold at RM Sotheby’s. The car had been restored by a noted Tri-Five expert and presented really well with a number of rare options. It had the dual-carb 270-hp 283, a 3-speed manual, and had been fitted with factory Chevrolet-built Continental Kit components. Overall, it was a great car and a fantastic presentation, yet it sold for $56,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement of the model.
The market spoke here at RM Sotheby’s, at least for this car, and I do think we’ll see more of this happen in the future as the market continues to shift to a younger demographic. But I don’t think that spells doom for the Tri-Five — I’ve always wanted one, and I know I’m not alone. There’s a group of buyers who have been waiting for these cars to become a little more affordable, and they’ll be jumping on them as prices come down from the clouds, as was the case here.
For now, this was a lot of car for the money, and I’d say that makes it very well bought.