This Is the Bel Air the IIHS Destroyed

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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, 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, 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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Finfan59 Finfan59 on Sep 23, 2009

    The IIHS are a bunch of goofs....LOADS of interest for '59 Chevys as in repopped parts....not for the OTHER makes....and yes.....4 doors.... They are just as sick as the industry....

  • Sinistermisterman Sinistermisterman on Sep 30, 2009

    Why don't we just go and sink a supertanker to prove it pollutes more when it isn't afloat, or, or... I know! Get a shovel and hit someone in the face with it to prove that it hurts more than hitting someone in the face with a teddy bear. Honestly what a f*cking stupid waste of money and a classic car.

  • Scott Miata for the win.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X On a list of things to spend my time and money on, doing an EV conversion on a used car is about ten millionth.
  • TheEndlessEnigma No, no I would/will not.
  • ChristianWimmer If I want an EV then I’ll buy an EV. For city use a small EV with a 200-300 km range (aka “should last for a week with A/C or heater usage”) is ideal. But I only have space for one daily driver and that daily driver also needs to be capable of comfortable long-distance cruising at high speeds and no current EV can do this without rapidly draining its battery charge.
  • SCE to AUX I prefer original, no matter what the car is. If the car has some value, then an electric drivetrain lowers its value. But if it's just a used car, why spend a fortune to install an electric drivetrain?