Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Today we're going to take a look at a car that was once everywhere, selling in numbers so vast that Ford and Chrysler execs could only shake their heads in envy. Yes, the early-60s full-sized Chevy… and where are they now? Well, the nice ones are mostly locked away in garages and get trailered to car shows, cruise nights, and lowrider events. The beaters mostly got wrapped around telephone poles or plowed into drainage ditches by generations of small-block-powered hoons, and the rest just sort of rusted to nothingness. Yet in Alameda, a down-but-not-out '63 Bel Air sedan still sees regular driving duty!
How many of these things were made? The Standard Catalog figures have a lot of confusing overlaps between all the model variations, but my calculations seem to indicate that an incredible 2,602,830 full-sized 1963 Chevrolets were sold, including station wagons. Of those, 354,100 were Bel Air sedans like the one we're looking at. So far in Alameda, though, I've found only today's car and this '60 Bel Air.
This one has some non-California rust and many dents, but it seems to drive just fine. There's no indication of engine type in this car; the factory choices spanned four different engine families: inline six, small-block V8, W-block V8, and big-block V8. You could get displacements of 230, 283, 327, 409, and 427 cubic inches from the factory, with horsepower ratings from 140 to 430. However, the best bet for a car like this nowadays is a junkyard-swapped 350.
This Bel Air started out as a Colorado car, which explains the medium-grade rust. Wonder how many miles are on the clock?