Welcome to Found Off The Street, our look at cars found on the cape that rust liked so much it decided to summer there; Cape Cod, MA. Today we have a 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air.
Last week's FOTS 1960 Ford F100 has been sitting and waiting for someone with the motivation and desire to bring the old truck back to life. This week's 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air is currently in the process of being returned to road service at the hands of someone with that motivation and desire. While a couple years of sitting outdoors have certainly taken a toll on the old Chevy, this old four door has managed to survive a lifetime on the cape that rust remembered in relatively good shape.
When Chevrolet redesigned their full size cars for 1965 they had no way of knowing how popular the new cars would be. The 1965 Impala and Impala SS models still hold the record for the most successful single model sales year. When the year was over Impala sales had totaled 1,074,925 units. Not surprisingly, coming off a sales year like 1965, the 1966 models were only slightly face lifted and redesigned.
This week's FOTS full size Chevy Bel Air was the slightly less fancy and lower cost alternative to the popular Impala. When the Bel Air name was first applied to a model range in 1953, it represented the best Chevrolet had to offer. By 1966, the Bel Air model line sat below the Caprice and the Impala in the full sized Chevrolet model hierarchy but above the entry level Biscayne. The Bel Air was a presentable and practical alternative to the more expensive Impala.
While this old Bel Air is far from perfect, it isn't a stretch to say this car managed to survive in much better condition than many of the other full sized Chevys it left the factory with in 1966. The current owner believes the car was sold new on the cape that rust remembered and the dealer sticker on the back of the car supports that story. The fact this Bel Air has managed to survive 47 years in a car hostile environment like coastal Massachusetts point to a fairly easy existence for the car at the hands of a careful owner. Despite a few body imperfections, when I first laid eyes upon this Chevy several years ago it was clear there hadn't been many harsh New England winters in its life.
Recently the car has seen a bit more of the elements than we expect it was used to. Our FOTS '66 Chevy has spent the last two winters (and summers) sitting outside while other projects were attended to. I took these pictures while the owner was in the process of resurrecting the old blue beast. A fuel pump, a tune up and a little tinkering should bring the 283 V8 back to life, while plans for body work and paint loom in the Bel Air's future. Although the past couple years have been a little rougher for the car than the earlier part of its life likely was, this old Chevy still has many years of summer cruising ahead of it.