1957 Chevy Bel Air
One of America’s favorite cars, often referred to simply as the ‘57 Chevy, was the upscale trim model of the Chevrolet line made by General Motors in 1957. The Bel Air made its debut in the Chevrolet lineup in 1950 as their first hardtop model.
In the 1957 model year, the Chevrolet was offered in 3 trim levels. There were the base model 150 series and also a mid-range 210 series. The Bel Air series was the top-of-the-line luxury model with anodized gold trim on the grille and hood, fenders and the trunk. There were optional trims for the 1957 Chevrolet lineup, such as the upscale Delray option on the 2-door 210 sedans as well as a limited edition Nomad 2-door station wagon in the Bel Air series. To finalize the 1957 lineup, there were an extremely limited number of custom-made El Morocco models produced, known as “the poor man’s Cadillac”. (Comedian and television host, Jay Leno is the proud owner of one.)
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was manufactured from late 1956 and continued through a good portion of 1957. The ‘57’s design was based on the 1955 Chevrolet; a car that had the first V8 offered on a Chevy since 1918. This engine has become known as the Small-Block V8 because of its compact design. At first GM execs wanted a whole new design for the 1957 model year, but delays in manufacturing forced them to carry over the 1955 look for another year. Despite production concerns the Chevrolet Chief Designer, Ed Cole, made changes that resulted in a significant increase to the price of the car. His changes were to put in a new dashboard, windshield and other structural changes that necessitated the design of the hooded chrome headlights. These changes, in addition to the long tail fin design, gave the ’57 Chevy its distinct appearance. It also had a longer and lower look than both the ‘55 and ’56 Chevys.
There were many options available on the ’57 Bel Air, including power windows, seats, brakes, steering and antenna. Also optional were a signal-seeking radio and fuel injection. In 1957 a brand new Bel Air sold for between $2238 (for a Bel Air 2-door) and $2757 (for a Nomad station wagon), depending on the particular model and purchased options. Approximately 702,651 Bel Airs were produced and sold in 1957 (nearly 50% of total Chevys sold that year). Although sales were good, they were below General Motor’s expectations and for the first time since 1935, Ford outsold Chevrolet.
As the years went by, the popularity of the ’57 Chevy Bel Air increased greatly, eventually becoming one of the most recognizable cars ever. Its popularity has not only made it a classic but also a very desirable collectible car among car enthusiasts. They have been restored to original condition by classic car lovers, as well as customized in innumerable ways as hot rods. It is and will continue to be America’s favorite muscle car.
The 1957 Bel Air came in the following styles:
Bel Air Convertible
Bel Air Sport Coupe
Bel Air Sport Sedan
Bel Air 4-door Sedan
Bel Air 2-door Sedan
Bel Air Townsman 4-door Station Wagon
Bel Air Nomad Station Wagon