We had a brief word with the IIHS’s Russ Raider, who was quite cagey on the origins and condition of the 1959 Bel Air that was destroyed for the Institute’s 50th birthday. What we were able to get out of him was that the ’59 Bel Air was in “good” condition, with only a little engine rust, leaky hood/trunk seals and non-original upholstery in the negative column. We also learned that the car was procured in Indiana, and with this information we went looking for Bel Airs on the internet. And you’ll never guess what we found . . .
We quickly found our prime suspect at Jims59.com, an Indiana-based site devoted to the magical 1959 model year. Three photos of a 1959 Bel Air in the exact same colors and equipped with a straight six (no way the car in the video was rocking a V8) can be found there, described as being from “35 miles from Jim.” In other words, in Indiana. Adding to our suspicions is the photo in which a $10,500 price is written in the window. And we’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like it has non-original upholstery. UPDATE: We’ve contacted Jim Snell of Jims59.com, and he confirms that this is indeed the car destroyed by the IIHS. The Bel Air had 60k miles when he helped his friend sell it online for $8,500. Mr Snell had this to say over at Chevytalk:
If I would have had the space to keep it and the extra money, I would have bought that car myself. At the time, it didn’t make much sense to have my spiffy Impala and also a similar BelAir…. My buddy’s car was so nice! Original interior was incredible, and almost zero rust…. grrrrrrrrr………… What a waste.