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.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.
  • Jmo2 I just got an email from the dealership where I bought my car and it looks like everything has $5k on the hood.
  • Lou_BC I suspect that since the global pandemic, dealerships have preferred to stay with the "if you want it, we will order it" business model. They just need some demo models on hand and some shiny bits to catch the impulse buyer. Profits are higher and risks lower this way.
  • Probert When I hear the word "patriot", I think of entitled hateful whining ignorant traitors to democracy. But hey , meant to say "Pass the salt."
  • Lou_BC A brand or inanimate object isn't patriotic. A person can buy said object based upon patriotism. I'd prefer to buy local or domestic. Is supporting one's fellow countrymen patriotic or logical? I'd rather buy from an allie than a foe. Is that patriotic or logical?