1957 Chevrolet
1957 Chevrolet. Click image to enlarge

Article and photo by Bill Vance

When the 1957 Chevrolet arrived it already had a strike against it: while both Ford and Plymouth received all-new bodies, Chevy had to make do with a facelift of its 1955-’56 styling. The result was that Ford slid by Chevrolet in sales for the first time since 1935 and Plymouth climbed back over Buick to its “rightful” spot in third place.

But in spite of this apparent disadvantage, the ’57 Chevy would have the last laugh. It would go on to score a coup in the long run by becoming a much more sought after collectible than either of its rivals.

The 1955 Chevrolet had been a sensation with its completely new and stunning Cadillac-like “Motoramic.” It brought another scoop under the hood: in addition to the old reliable tried and true “Blue Flame” inline six, buyers could choose the sensational new lightweight, overhead valve V8. It gave outstanding performance, and Chevy called it the “Hot One.” As soon as the performance numbers were in, especially with the optional “Power Pack” (four barrel carburetor and dual exhausts), it was apparent that this was not overblown hyperbole. Road & Track (2/’55) reported a zero to 96 km/h time of 9.7 seconds, very fast for that time.

Chevrolet freshened up the appearance for 1956, but decided that it could not afford a new car for 1957. The stylists, therefore, were constrained by having to retain the hood, roof and rear deck lid of the ’56. In spite of this they created a quite different look while managing to cut 38 mm (1.5 in.) off the height.

The rather massive looking full-width, oval-shaped mesh grille was integrated with the bumper, and instead of one central hood ornament there were two “cheese cutters,” one on each side. The ventilation inlets were moved from the cowl to a position above the hooded headlamps.

Conservative pointed fins were added, complemented by a side-spear trim moulding that split to form a horizontal vee on the rear flanks. On the Bel Air model this insert was a very attractive brushed aluminum. The taillamps were dropped down to bumper level and a nice touch was hiding the fuel filler in the left fin.

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