If you’ve ever visited Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you may have wandered through an area that seemed to have been frozen in time. Jukebox Junction is a favorite with old and young alike, but perhaps the most reminiscent area of the Junction is the Rockin’ Roadway. A simple ‘car’ ride that winds around Burma-Shave advertisements, this ride would probably be of little interest to those not fascinated by vehicles from that time period. One of the most popular vehicles of the decade features prominently in this ride, albeit as smaller models rather than the original bodies. The Chevy Bel-Air is a beautiful antique from happier times, and though they were only made for two and a half decades, they remain lodged in the public’s memory as a gorgeous vehicle from days gone by.
The Bel-Air made its first appearance in 1950. It was classified as a full-size muscle car, with unique roof and rear windows (other parts of the vehicle were similar or shared by the Styleline Deluxe Coupe). It sold for $1,741 when it arrived on the scene, and was purchased by over 700,000 customers. It had a three-speed manual transmission, either a “Thriftmaster” or “Blue Flame” engine, and was available as a 2-door coupe, 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 2-door convertible, or 4-door station wagon. As time went on, the trim was used on other vehicles that were then called “Bel-Air”, but the original body, a GM A, is what most of us have seen.
The Chevy Bel-Air lasted in the United States until 1975, and was assembled in several states, including California, Ohio, and Georgia. All told, there were seven generations of the Bel-Air made in the U.S. Canada kept making and selling the Bel-Air until 1981, although it sometimes went by another name, the Laurentian. Eventually, however, the Bel-Air was retired, and made way for the Chevy Impala.
Today, we’re familiar with the Bel-Air because of places like Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, older shows and films like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Quantum Leap, and photos featuring families proudly showing off their beloved Bel-Air.