The owner of the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has taken such great care of her vehicle for more than 64 years that the immaculate vintage car has come to represent her.
Whenever she travels, the proud elderly driver is recognized.
Grace Braeger, a Wisconsin resident from West Bend, asserted in an interview with Barcroft Motors that
I know how to take care of things, as proven by this car. ‘ I didn’t think I’d keep this car for this long. It just happened!
Grace bought one of the approximately 700,000 hard-top Chevys built in 1957 for $2,250. A unique antique car today may cost anywhere between $35,000 and $85,000.
The secret to the longevity of this cherished car is Grace’s exceptional maintenance routine, in which she goes above and beyond the manual’s directions to keep the car in top operating condition.
Grace changed the oil less frequently than the recommended 1,000 miles—2,000 miles. “I have it serviced whether it needs it or not.”
Grace has a customized license plate that reads “57 Lady,” the nickname she has acquired from people who like seeing her drive.
Grace’s Chevrolet is equipped with four doors, power steering and brakes, a sleek black exterior with white and chrome accents, a crimson interior, and a large steering wheel in the way of the 1950s, which the small driver now looks under when driving rather than over.
Grace, the 64-year-old car’s sole owner, has done a superb job of making use of the lifetime warranty offered by the maker.
Having the original invoices on hand was incredibly beneficial when Grace decided to replace her mufflers after 62 years of use.
The car was about 20 years old when the cautious owner scared off a would-be carjacker on her way to church in the late 1970s.
It was parked on a side street, Grace recalled. I could see someone getting out of the automobile from the other side as I came close to it. I exclaimed, “Who are you,” and the guy immediately disappeared.
Over the years, the Chevrolet has traveled more than 122,000 miles, many of them during Grace’s more “active years” as the owner.
Grace now makes shorter journeys in her distinctive car, which is appreciated by other drivers on the road. such as to all of her West Bend appointments, the grocery store, and the church. She makes a point of saying that the car is truly “great,” not just any car.
Grace thought about how much her car expresses her love of driving and how it has shaped her personality and sense of style.