A Look at the 1957 Chevy

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A classic car adored and wanted by millions worldwide is nicknamed the ‘57 Chevy, the 1957 Chevrolet was made in America from late 1956 throughout 1957 by General Motors.

The 57 Chevy was available in three official trim levels: the base model “one-fifty” series, the midrange “two-ten” series, and the highbrow, upscale Bel air series. Although, the “Del Ray” trim was an upscale trim made available for the 210 2-door sedans.

A “shoebox” design was designed for the 1957 Chevrolet; it was aptly named the “shoebox” because it was the first Chevrolet to feature streamlined rear fenders, as a watershed. This lightweight car was coupled with a powerful V-8 engine, easily became a showroom draw, but also shoved General Motors into the realm of competitive motor sports.

While the executives of General Motors initially wanted an entirely new car for 1957, delays in production necessitated the carryover from the 1955. The changes from the 1955 to the 1957 greatly increased the cost of the car. Ed Cole, chief designer for Chevrolet at the time, made the following list of changes:

  • A new dashboard
  • Reshaped windshield
  • Sealed Cowl
  • Re-location of air ducts to the headlight pods – this resulted in the characteristic chrome headlight, which helped turn the ‘57 into the classic car it is today.
  • Fourteen-inch wheels now replaced the fifteen-inch ones from prior years, giving the car a lower stance
  • A wide grille, gave the ‘57 a wider look when being looked at from head on.
  • The tailfins on the ’57 were designed to keep the wide look throughout the car, from grille to tail.

Bel Air trim models were given gold trim on the grille, front fender chevrons, hood, and trunk script were all covered in an anodized gold. The tailfin’s V-shaped trim was filled with a ribbed aluminum insert that was limited to the Bel Air.

The first year that Chevrolet ever offered fuel injection as an option was in 1957. A 283 cubic inch engine fitted with solid lifters and a fuel injection rate at 283 hp. The lifters were designed to permit the engine to achieve a higher rate of RPMs, but it was too erratic for non-racing drivers.  In order to accommodate the casual driver a 250 hp, hydraulic lifter version of the fuel injection engine was offered.

1957 was Chevrolet’s first year at offering a turbine transmission, otherwise known as the Turboglide. Due to its complex nature, many buyers of automatic transmissions stunted the Turboglide and turned to the two-speed Powerglide that had been offered since 1950. The manual transmissions were limited to three-speed, column shifted units.

Because of its ideal size and lightweight in comparison to other new models of fuller sized cars, the 57 was a favorite among the drag racers. The arguably simple mechanics of the car made it easy to maintain, customize, and upgrade with further components like air conditions and disc brakes. Although from a business standpoint, the ‘57 had not sold as well as General Motors had hoped.

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