1964 Chevrolet Bel Air Bel Air 230 CID L6 from Germany
A classic off the trodden paths
Engine oil pan leakage.
Valve cover leakage.
Water pump leakage.
Transmission oil pan leakage.
Differential case leakage.
Exhaust system rustout.
Worn front suspension components.
Worn front and rear brakes.
Some rustout on the body.
Okay, that's a pretty long list of things that didn't work properly when I bought the car in March. However, it's an unrestored 57-year-old car with unknown mileage and who knows how many previous owners, so what can you expect?
When I spotted the ad for an unusually cheap Bel Air, I just couldn't resist checking the car out, knowing full well that, unless it turned out to be a complete wreck, I'd probably buy it. Why? Sentimental reasons. When I was a three-year-old kid, my parents got their very first car, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala four-door sedan. My new '64 Bel Air is a four-door, too, so it's pretty much the same car. Suddenly, I'm a child again.
Anyway, in spite of its various issues, which are being resolved now, the Chevy drove me home from the Netherlands to Germany without any problems and made me smile all along the way.
It's a pretty plain model with the standard inline six of 230 cubic inches or 3.8 liters, respectively, of engine displacement and 140 gross horsepower (120 net), combined with Chevy's indestructible Powerglide two-speed automatic. Incidentally, I owned a 1966 Chevy Chevelle with the same engine/trans combination back in the 1980s and I loved it.
Also incidentally, both cars were assembled at the GM Continental plant in Antwerp, Belgium, for the European market. Prior to the 1970s, GM and other US manufacturers would ship CKD (completely knocked down) kits to foreign countries for export and have the vehicles assembled on location in order to save money on import tariffs. But I digress.
My 230/PG Chevelle was not exactly a racer, so the same engine in the bigger and heavier Bel Air obviously won't cut it at a stoplight Grand Prix, but who cares? Not me, that's for sure.
One of the previous owners swapped the original Rochester single-barrel carb for a (leaky) Holley two-barrel and a non-original intake manifold. These modifications are being reversed because I prefer authenticity in a classic car.
Since the Chevy is being brought back to life as I'm writing this, I can't really say much about the car's dependability yet, but if it's half as good as the Chevelle's was way back when I'll be a happy camper.
I'll fill in more details in the upcoming months.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th October, 2021
8th Oct 2021, 11:31
It was not that long ago that a bare-bones 4-door sedan with a six cylinder, like this '64 BelAir, would have been considered nothing more than a parts car, or even worse, demolition derby fodder. Now... they are not that much cheaper to buy than much more desirable models/body styles... go figure.