The 1957 Chevrolet is clearly the most popular collector car of all mass-produced production cars built by the American Automobile industry since the 1950s. Even today it command’s the greatest enthusiasm of all post World War II classic cars and is known as the ultimate “Classic Chevrolet”. If you were to mention the number “57” around a gathering of automobile enthusiast, everyone will instantly connect these two number with the ’57 Chevy.
Chevrolet advertised its 1957 models as “Sweet, Smooth and Sassy!” The new 1957 Chevrolet styling was sweet, its new Turboglide transmission was smooth and the fuel injected 283 cubic inch V-8 was very sassy. Baby boomer’s of the 1950s and 1960s often dreamed of a red 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible like the one shown below.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
The new “Sweet” styling included a new grille, grille bar, bumper bullets, headlight bezels, more deeply hooded headlights, twin hood rockets, gold toned front fender hash marks, larger windshield, pointed fin like rear quarter panels, anodized filler side trim and more colorful interiors. The new styling was considered the best of the three 1955 body shells made by “Body By Fisher”.
1957 Chevrolet 210
The “Sweet” styling was just the start. Important engineering upgrades included a big boost in horsepower, fuel injection and a new Turboglide automatic transmission with triple turbines. This future classic was fresher and friskier, from its own special look to its new Ramjet fuel injection. It was the development of Ramjet fuel injection on the Corvette and the 1957 Chevy that prompted Chevrolet and General Motors advertising to claim an industry first in that famous ad headline “1 h.p. per cubic inch“. In the United States all automobile manufacturers wanted to achieve this milestone. Chevrolet claimed it was the first American production car to achieve this goal. However, they were not the first, the Chrysler 300-B with a 354 cubic inch “Hemi” V-8 rated at 355 HP was reported to be the first. Chevy’s first “One horsepower per cubic inch” power plant was the 283 cubic inch V-8. It had fuel injection, 10.5 to 1 compression ratio and very short stroke. Chevrolet offered a Ramjet fuel injection on all 20 of its 1957 models, even on the One-Fifty models.
The ’57 Chevy was also lower and longer than the 1956 and 1955 Chevrolet. Chevrolet switched from 15 to 14 inch wheels reducing overall height slightly. Width and wheelbase went unchanged, but overall length was now 200 inches. The frame was strengthened with new shocks, front braces, control arms and ball joints were revised to match the heavier bodies. Rear springs were again moved a bit further outboard for better handling and stability. Even the front brakes were revised to a heat-resistant linings.
Although Chevrolet engineering changes in 1957 were extensive, styling was even more important to sales. The 1957 Chevrolet was slightly smaller than its competition. Chevy styling was deliberately fashioned on 1957 models to make them look as large as possible. They had the boldest and biggest look among low priced American Automobiles. The massive new front and rear bumpers and large grille was one example. Even the front fenders were stretched across the top of the head light bezels. The unique and distinct rear fins, that all 1957 Chevrolet fans love, helped to make the car look much larger and lower.
1957 Chevrolet 150
The new 1957 Chevrolet ventilation system featured fresh air intakes in the headlight bezels that feed long concealed ducts to the interior. This new feature helped to keep passengers cool on warm days. The new ventilation system allowed the cowl height to be reduced and led to a lower hood. The “Hood Bird” ornaments used on the 1955 and 1956 Chevrolets were replaced with two “Hood Rocket’s” which were a unique feature on the 1957 Chevy. The new bumper and grille was dominated by a thick horizontal bar with a large Chevrolet crest in the center and small circular parking lamps at each end. This grille bar was set against a fine mesh background that was silver anodized on the 210’s and 150’s and gold anodized on the Bel Air.
The massive bumper was scooped into a wide “U”, then flared up and out into bomb like guards at the grilles farthest point. These guards were normally flat-faced on all models, but could be fitted with an optional black rubber tip. The new 1957 front grille and bumper added up to a fully fresh face, that was more massive than the ‘55 Chevrolet and ‘56 Chevrolet. The new grille and bumper looked more than a passing resemblance to Cadillac.
The rear fenders were reshaped to keep up with the completion. Tail lamps took the form of a half moon at the base of each fin just above the larger rear bumper. At each end of the rear bumper were streamlined oval housings for the optional backup lamps. Directly below were inverted half moons painted black. The 1956 concealed fuel filler returned as a side hinged panel in the driver side fin’s vertical edge molding, just above the tail lamp. Along each side of the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was an anodized aluminum body panel. These panels, the rear fins, front bumper and hood birds make the 1957 Chevrolet a popular choice for old car collectors today.