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Cars > BigChevyJoe’s Garage > Blog > 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air (Blue Bel Air)

 

Bel Air vs. Biscayne

By BigChevyJoe

Filed under: 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air (Blue Bel Air)

Not everyone understands the difference between a Bel Air, Biscayne or an Impala. Thus, I'm going to do my best to try to explain the differences and similarities. The Bel Air line had changed after the introduction of the Impala (1958) and Caprice (1965) lines, so all of my comments are based on the 1966 Chevrolets.

The cars are similar in that they're both Sedans (aka post cars). I've heard them referred to as "post coupes", but I don't really like that phrase. Unlike their Impala & Caprice siblings (which are hardtops), the sedans have a “post” around the side windows and another “post” between the front & rear entry ways. Biscaynes and Bel Airs share the same body (with the exception of how some panels are drilled - see below). Both cars generally (with the exception of their respective badging) share the same dashboard and steering wheel. Both Bel Airs and Biscaynes share the same rear bumpers and tail lights. Bel Airs and Biscaynes share the same glass, interior & exterior window moldings and rear view mirrors. Neither Biscaynes, nor Bel Airs came with a trunk mat.

Biscaynes are more austere than Bel Airs. Biscaynes did not have body side moldings (aka “spears”), nor did they have stainless steal gutter moldings - Bel Airs did have that trim. Biscaynes had rubber floor mats and more plain door panels & seat upholstery. Bel Airs had carpeted floors and fancier door panels & seat upholstery.

An easy and convenient way to think of a Bel Air is, it’s sort of like an Impala sedan -or- the middle ground on the luxurycomfort scale between Impalas and Biscaynes.

There are still many differences between Impalas and Bel Airs (more than just the doors & roof lines). Impalas have very different interiors; door panels, head liners, seats, upholstery, dashboards and steering wheels. Although both Impalas and Bel Airs have body side moldings, each car’s molding is different. An Impala has three tail light sections per side, Bel Airs and Biscaynes had only two. Impalas have their back-up lights in the rear bumper, Bel Airs and Biscaynes have their back-up lights in the tail lights.

All 1966 Full Sized Chevys share the same grille and front bumper. Generally their hoods & front fenders are the same. Biscaynes and Bel Airs share the same hood - both are not drilled for the “hood spear” - Impala’s and Caprice’s are drilled. Although the front fenders are generally the same, every ‘66 Full Sized Chevy’s front fenders are drilled slightly different. Biscayne’s & Caprice’s aren’t drilled for body side molding - but Caprice’s are drilled for rocker panel molding. Bel Air’s and Impala’s are drilled for bodying side molding - but Impala’s are drilled for rocker panel moldings.

Hopefully, I have explained the differences and similarities between several of the ‘66 Full Sized Chevys. There are probably things that I haven’t described, but I believe that I covered the major attributes. In my opinion and based on my experience, Bel Airs are generally the most difficult 1966 Full Sized Chevys to restore. The Bel Air exclusive trim & interior pieces are (generally) not reproduced - so N.O.S. (if available) or nice used parts are many times the only options.

When shopping for ‘66 2 door sedan, beware or “Biscaynes” that are converted Bel Airs - there are many of these cars out there. I believe that most “restorers” convert their Bel Airs to appear to be Biscaynes out of the ease of access to Biscayne trim. The easiest way to spot a (in my opinion) poorly Bel Air to Biscayne convertion is; Look for stainless steal gutter strips - If the “Biscayne” you’re looking at has these, I’d bet that it was a Bel Air. Since Biscaynes generally have better name recognition, some sellers don’t even try to discriminate, they’ll actually call their Bel Air a Biscayne in their advertisements - that’s how I found my Bel Air.
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Cars > BigChevyJoe’s Garage > Blog > 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air (Blue Bel Air)

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