When the 1957 Bel Air was released, it became an instant hit. It was one of the most recognizable cars in that era. Furthermore, it was among the most memorable figures in American pop culture. Not even Chevrolet was expecting its big success. Thus, it was truly a result of good designing and excellent timing.
Before releasing the 1957 model, GM executives wanted a new car. But due to production delays, the option of releasing the 1955-56 design for one more year was just waiting in a corner. But then, the chief designer of Chevrolet, Ed Cole made a decision of relocating the air ducts to the headlight pods, installing the newly-designed dashboard and adding a sealed cowl. The fifteen-inch wheels are replaced with fourteen-inch to give the car a lower stance. They also used wide grille to give an illusion of wider appearance from the front fascia. Those several changes epitomized the 1957 model.
Bel Air is available in seven different models and it featured an anodized aluminum trim panels on the rear sides of the body.
During its run, different body choices were available. And the Sport Coupe or the ’57 convertible was the most coveted models for classic car collectors since it has a lot of factory extras. Other options are the Chevrolet One-Fifty two-door sedan, the four-door sedan, the Sport Sedan, the Bel Air Convertible, the 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Townsman four-door six-passenger station wagon, and the Bel Air Nomad that has its own different styling primarily in the roof line and rear deck.
Nomad was the most expensive Bel Air back then. Thus, there are only 6,103 units manufactured during its run. It was far beneath the sales of Sport Coupes that have 166,426, and ragtops that have 47,562 units.
There are four standard engine choices for the 1957 Bel air. The choices include the 235.5 cu in (3,859cc) inline 6-cylinder that can produce 140 HP, the 265 cu in (4,340 cc) called the “Turbo-Fire” which produces 162 hp, the Turbo-Fire with twin-barrel carburetor that has 185 hp, and finally the “Super Turbo-Fire” with four-barrel carburetor with an impressive 220 hp (164 kW).
During the run of the 1957 Bel Air, it was the first time when Chevrolet proposed the fuel injection as an option.
During the late ‘50s, there was a competition between luxury cars and it was pretty reasonable for each company to present their cars with its own gimmicks. For the 1957 Bel Air, many options are presented to make the car more comfortable and luxurious. These include power brakes, power steering, a signal-seeking AM radio with power antenna, power windows and power seats. Though the air conditioning was rarely ordered, they included it too.
A rear speaker is also offered as well as the “Autronic Eye” that automatically dims the headlight when it sensed light from the incoming car. The weirdest idea was the electronic shaver that is connected to the dashboard.
Bel Air’s Popularity
Although the Bel Air was enjoying the fame, Ford still managed to outsell Chevrolet. It was because the ’57 Chevy uses tubeless tires and since it was the first car to have them, the majority of the people were hesitant of using it. Furthermore, the brand new designs of Ford that is much longer, lower and wider caught the attention of many car buyers.