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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VINTAGE MIAMI: c. 1960s

Bel Air Belle: 1963

Bel Air Belle: 1963

Circa 1961 1963, L's 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door hardtop. She bought it used and paid $500, then had to sell two years later. Oh to see this car now! 35mm Kodachrome slide. View full size.

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Today’s Top 5

First ride

I believe the '55 Chevy was the first time I rode in a car. Unlike the rest I fell in love with the steering wheel. Also liked hanging out the rear seat window.

57 - Meh

The 57 Chevy gets all the attention now, but the 55 and 56 were essentially the same car, and for my money nicer looking, especially the straightforward looking 55. My mom bought a 55 two door, very similar to this, in 1958. It remained her favorite car long after. She traded it in for a 59 Ford, which turned out to be a total lemon.

Barbie Shoes

I love her little shoes. Looks just like the shoes that came on the first Barbie dolls.

Dating L

Most Kodachromes of this vintage would have the processing date stamped on the mount.

Even later than 1963

Yes, black plates in California began in 1963, and quickly exhausted the first part of the alphabet. However, the "P" series plates weren't issued until the 1st quarter of 1965. This plate was likely issued spring or summer of 1965.

Fine Model

They sure made some fine models back then. Made pretty good cars, too.

Sticker in window - VALLEY...

This could be one of the earliest photos of an automobile with a sticker in rear window. Yes?

[School decals like this weren't a particularly uncommon sight when I was mooning over cars in the 1950s. - tterrace]

Yes, late summer 1963 in Virginia

L and her aunt had just driven cross-country from California to Virginia in the summer of 1963. She is newly married and she is just shy of her 19th birthday!
There's no easy segue into this next image.
This is where the gas cap is located.

I think it's a V8

I was under the impression the silver V on the trunk indicated of the 265 V8.

V=V8

V on the trunk means it is a V8. 265 Cubic inch V8.

What a lovely photo

It's hard to say which is more lovely, the stunning Chevy or the very pretty young woman.

Safari55 is right, the picture could only have been taken in 1963. That was the only year that black plates were used without a date sticker. It replaced the yellow 1956 plate that used stickers to update them through 1962. The black plate was then updated with stickers from 1964 through 1969.

As an aside, the California DMV is considering bringing back black and yellow plates as a special order option.

6 Banger

The Bel Air undoubtedly has a 6 cylinder engine, as the tailpipe is on the left side. If it had the standard V8 it would be on the right side. Power Pak cars had dual exhausts. Judging from the shift lever position, it's more than likely a Powerglide automatic transmission.

[As noted above, the V emblem on the trunk denotes a V-8 powerplant. There was no standard engine; buyers had a choice of a Blue-Flame 6 or Turbo-Fire 8. The V-8 tailpipe was on the driver side of the car. - Dave]

You can have one

My cousin has restored one of these, same turquoise two tone. A bit more than $500 though.

It's HUGE inside, and you sit upright like adults.

$39k today

Here is a similar '56 Bel Aire 2 door, $38, 995!

And the black CA plate would be worth a premium today.

Date change

I think you are probably right. I will change the date!

Chevy Dealer

From the license plate frame, it appears that the car was purchased at Rancho Chevrolet in Reseda, California. I can't find them on Google, so perhaps they are no longer in existence, or were swallowed up by another dealership.

1963 not 1961

The black California plates with the yellow digits were the first year for the 1963 base plates, so this photo was taken sometime in 1963.

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