Chevrolet Bel Air 5th Gen. Origin
The 5th gen Bel Air is a series of model cars produced by Chevrolet between 1961 and 1964. Although the 5th gen model of the Bel Air retained the 3000 mm (119 inches) wheelbase which was used in the 4th gen Bel Air, the length of the wheelbase; which used to be 5400 mm (280 inches), was cut down to 5320 mm (209.3 inches). The 5th gen models also retained the engines used in the preceding model.
Unlike the 4th gen Bel Air models which only included 2-door and 4-door sedans and hardtops, the 5th gen Bel Airs had more body styles. They include the 2-door sedan, 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 4-door wagon, and of course, the 4-door hardtop. The GM B platform of the 4th gen models was also retained in the 5th gen Bel Airs.
In addition, the 5th gen models of Chevrolet Bel Air did not drift too far from the 4th-generation Bel Air in terms of transmission. The 3-speed manual, 4-speed manual, 2-speed Powerglide automatic, and the 3-speed Turboglide automatic transmissions, which characterized the 4th gen models, were carried into the 5th gen models.
Chevrolet Bel Air 5th Gen. Overview
The predecessor of the 5th generation Chevrolet Bel Air is the 4th generation Chevrolet Bel Air. Being a successor, the 5th gen model of Bel Airs, first released in 1961, had a different body from the ones used in the previous models. Another difference in the 5th gen models is the addition of engines despite retaining engines from the previous year. The distinguishing feature between the 2-door sedan and the hardtop variant was the squared-off roof style which characterized the sedans and their large rear wrap-around windows. The hardtops are characterized by the swept-back design for their roof. The roof line of the 4-door sedan is also different from the 4-door hardtop.
Excluding door panels, every other sheet metal in the 5th gen Chevrolet Bel Air models was replaced for the 1962 model year. The wheelbase length somewhat increased to 5320 mm (209.6 inches). That same year, Chevrolet discontinued the production of the 4-door Sport Hardtop in the Bel Air model series and introduced the 327 cu inches V8 for the first time with its capability of about 300 hp. Chevrolet also introduced the 409 cu inches (6.7 L) V8 engine with around 400 hp capability having a double 4-barrel carburetor setup.
The 1963 models of the Bel Air had a different look from the 1962 models. The wheelbase was increased to 210.4 inches, and the 235 cu inches engine was replaced with a 230 cu inches engine with a contemporary design. The company also upgraded its 283 CID V8 engine to produce 195 hp, and the 409 CID V8 engine was now available in versions 340, 400, and 425 hp. Only two variants were produced: the 4-door and 2-door sedan and the 6-door and 9-door station wagons. Fewer changes were made to the Bel Air series in 1964. Wagons had a wheelbase of 210.8 inches and the cars being 209.9 inches while the 327 CID engines had two variants – one delivering 250 hp and the other delivering 300 hp. Succeeding the 5th gen Chevrolet Bel Air was the 6th gen Bel Air models.
Chevrolet Bel Air 5th Gen. Production
The Turboglide engine was no longer included in the Bel Air series beginning from 1962, so the only available transmission was the Powerglide. There were no 2-door wagons in the 1962 models, and there were no further distinctions. All the models of the company produced in the 1962 model year were either Bel Air, Impala, or Biscayne. That year, the company also brought back its full carpeting as standard equipment in the Bel Air models after discarding it for many years. The last in the line of Sport Coupes in the Bel Air series was also produced in 1962, and it had the same roofline as the 1961 model.
In 1964, not many features distinguished the Bel Air series from the Chevrolet Biscayne besides the price and chrome belt line that characterized the Bel Air series. In the 1961 model year, Chevrolet produced, with the exclusion of station wagons, a total of 330,000 units of Bel Airs.
Chevrolet Bel Air 5th Gen. Price
The initial price offering of the 5th generation Chevrolet Bel Air series is unknown. Considering that these cars were in Chevrolet’s middle range, they couldn’t have been very expensive when they were first offered for sale.
At present, the prices of the 5th gen Bel Air series are quite high. The current average price of 1961 models is around $74,800. For the 1962 models, the current average price is around $97,167, while the 1963 models have an average value of $71,500. The 1964 Bel Air models were offered at an average price of $34,375 in 2021.
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