The average American’s commute is currently 32 miles round trip. Yet at its October 2019 Chicago sale, Mecum Auctions offered a 62-year-old car that had been driven just 23 miles in its lifetime. This 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Sport Coupe had been driven so little, its mileage equated to one trip to work and halfway home for today’s commuter. In ’57 Chevy fuel mileage, 23 miles represents burning less than two gallons of gasoline. So how does a car get driven so little, especially a car as attractive and beloved as a ’57 Chevy two-door hardtop?
According to the consignor, the Onyx Black and India Ivory ’57 Chevy remained in inventory when a Connecticut Chevrolet dealer went out of business in 1957. That dealer decided to keep the car once he shuttered the business’ doors and then he drove the car home and parked it. The car was stored by the former Chevrolet dealer until 1981 when he sold it to a car collector. That collector trailered it to a Classic Chevrolet International Show for 1955-’57 Chevys at St. Charles, Ill., in 1983 where its 23 miles likely caused quite a stir. The owner kept it until his passing in 2015 at which time the seller offering the car at Mecum Auctions bought it. At the 2019 auction, the odometer still showed just 23 miles and maintained the paper wrapper on each sun visor.
Along with the convertible and the Nomad two-door sport station wagon, the Sport Coupe two-door hardtop is the most sought-after body style of 1955-’57 Tri-Chevy. The Sport Coupe was offered in Chevrolet’s top-line Bel Air series and the mid-line Two-Ten series. Most Chevy buyers paid the extra $95 to go from the Two-Ten to the flashier Bel Air, which had a base price of $2399. That extra money for a Bel Air bought an anodized aluminum trim panel for the rear fenders, hash trim on the front fenders, longer trim atop the tailfins, rocker trim, full wheel covers and upgraded interior upholstery with additional interior metal trim appointments. By comparison, 166,426 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupes were built compared to just 22,631 Two-Ten Sport Coupes.
Although the Bel Air featured more trim, the 1957 Two-Ten was still a looker. On Two-Ten models with the optional two-toning, the area on the rear fender occupied by the Bel Air’s anodized aluminum trim was painted to match the roof color. The result was a particularly harmonizing effect, especially with the Two-Ten’s painted steel wheels and hubcaps.
Although there were significant trim differences, the Two-Ten could be offered with any engine available in the Bel Air, from the six-cylinder to the 283-hp fuel-injected 283-cid V-8. The car offered at Mecum had the 140-hp 235-cid six-cylinder, which was the base engine and often seen in Two-Ten models. The car also carried the three-speed manual transmission, a heater and radio. We spotted no other options.
This car was built at the Tarrytown, N.Y., assembly plant on March 22, 1957, and was the 209234th car built there that model year.
Since it was built, the car had seen almost as little change as it had seen road. The tires, radiator, water pump, battery, wheel cylinders, brake hoses and fuel tank were stated to be the only changes to the car since it was built. We noted at the auction that the chassis and bottom of the floor pans were sprayed black, but weren’t able to determine if this was period undercoating or a subsequent owner’s attempt to make the chassis uniform-looking.
The trim on the car appeared to be original and very well preserved with a slightly mellowed sheen from time. The only pitted chrome we noted was on the door handles. There were several pockmarks on the top surfaces of the fenders where surface rust appeared to have been forming. Otherwise the paint reflected the car’s low mileage with good, even shine and without signs of road rash.
The Two-Ten’s interior remained original and excellent. The gray fabric and white vinyl seat upholstery appeared as new, as did the instrument panel, steering wheel and door panels.
Determining the value on such a low-mileage survivor is difficult. Per Old Cars Report Price Guide’s 1-6 condition rating scale, an excellent original cannot be in No. 1 or No. 2 condition as these ratings reflect vehicles with body-off-frame restorations. By definition, a fine original is in no better than No. 3 condition. However, the price guide notes that premiums are often paid for low-mileage originals, and these premiums can approach or even exceed the No. 1 value.
We are aware of no other 1957 Chevrolets with fewer than 100 miles, and the selling price of the 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Sport Coupe at Mecum Auctions had could have set a new bar. The current value in Old Cars Report Price Guide for a six-cylinder ’57 Chevy Two-Ten Sport Coupe in No. 1 condition is $56,600, and Mecum sold the 23-mile example for $50,000 ($55,000 after the 10% buyer’s commission), putting this survivor squarely in No. 1 territory, as one might expect.
Coincidentally, Mecum Auctions sold a near-twin 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Sport Coupe just weeks earlier at its Las Vegas sale. The Vegas ’57 Two-Ten was also Onyx Black and India Ivory, but it had a V-8 and at least one repaint in its past. In addition, an owner had added Bel Air rocker trim and wheelcovers to this Two-Ten. The selling price on the Las Vegas auction block for the refurbished Two-Ten Sport Coupe was $28,000 ($30,800 with buyer’s commission) — exactly the No. 3 price in Old Cars Report Price Guide for this model.
The selling prices for the Vegas and Chicago Two-Ten Sport Coupes at recent Mecum Auctions indicate that 1957 Chevrolet prices remain steady. Between the two cars, we’d say the buyer of the 23-mile 1957 Chevy at Mecum’s Chicago sale did a little better. After all, they’re only original once, and where are you going to find another ’57 Chevy with just 23 miles?
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