57 Chevy 50th Anniversary - The "Hottest One's" Anniversary

Arguably the best looking and most well known Chevy every built celebrates 50 years on America's roads.

Doug Marion Jan 26, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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This '57 150 represents the thousands of Junior Stockers that ruled theroost in the late-'60s and early-'70s all over the U.S.A. This car wasborn and raced in Bakersfield, California, then shipped engineless toCarlinville, Illinois, where longtime '57 racer, restorer, and expert,Barry Wallner turned it into a 270hp, four-speed, NHRA '05 Reunion awardwinner.

AMA'S MID-'57 FACTORY ANTIRACING EDICT

Want to know something else about Detroit thinking in 1957? Sounds likeit was a wild time, right? Well, just the opposite was true by midyear.Right after Daytona Speed Weeks, the American Manufacturer's Association(members were made up of car, tractor, truck, bus, and othermanufacturers of most anything on wheels) voted to recommend the banningof AMA member manufacturers involvement in any form of racing. Writersthen said it was even taboo to mention racing or performance in vehicleadvertising. But many others felt if the manufacturers were not involvedin racing then vehicle chassis, braking, and engine development wouldsuffer. They were partially correct.

But the AMA only recommended this edict; General Motors followed it. Butthe AMA never mentioned anything about vehicle manufacturers makingparts available to racers as well as for sale to the general public. So,manufacturers skirted the edict and back-doored newly developed partsand pieces to racers for testing and evaluation in actual competition.

'57 CHEVY INTERWOVEN WITH CURRENT AMERICAN TIMES

The '57 has always been interwoven with something truly Americana--rock'n' roll and Doo-wop music. Parents thought their children were going toharm themselves with high-performance cars and turn into antisocialbeatniks listening and dancing to this new rhythm music with a "beat."

Well, we didn't. Ninety-nine-percent of the performance-car owners weknew in the late-'50s and for decades later were good drivers with cleandriving records. As for rock and doo-wop music, it created an industryand an Americana presence like no other music, before or after. The '57Chevrolet was right in the middle of it all. It has come full circletoday and is back on the scene via public television, major networktelevision specials, and on tape decks and cds.

Look at any '50s or retro diner/restaurant parking lot today, and whatyear and make of vehicle is dominant? The '57 Chevrolet. There are folksall over the United States today who still drive older Chevys, including'57s.

A LOOK AT THE OLDEST NATIONAL CLUBS

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The late Don Trivett of Volunteer State Chevy Parts in Tennessee ownedthis fuel-injected convertible for years. It was his "calling card" andhad every option available including dual radio antennas.

The very first national Chevrolet club was founded in Ohio in 1957. Itwas the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC). Chevrolet's ownCorvette News magazine gave the NCCC constant coverage. Local Corvetteclubs could then join the NCCC. They did by the hundreds. Some yearslater, the Western States Corvette Council (WSCC) was formed with thesame basic format.

In the early '70s, the National Nomad Club was formed, followed by theClassic Chevy Club. Super Chevy attended and gave coverage to theirearliest national conventions. Each with their own publication dealtwith mechanical facets as well as personally with members. It was awin-win situation and still is. Club memberships and Super Chevy'smagazine sales took off to record levels. By 1981, the Classic ChevyClub had in excess of 80,000 members. Today, it is owned by Eckler'sInternational in Titusville, Florida, (1-800-284-4096). in 2007, thereare many clubs that are easy to find, join, and enjoy if you own acomputer and are connected to the internet.

SUMMATION

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One of the fastest '57 drag cars was the Thunder Craft Boats TopSportsman car driven by Knoxville, Tennessee's Rob Vandergriff. This carwas given the very first "Editor's Choice-Drag Car" award at Bristol,Tennessee, a long time ago.

As you can see, the '57 Chevrolet has meant much to millions. It alsohelped start a restoration industry. Folks talk about the '57's coolmulticolored interiors and dash, the hood rockets, the front bumperbullets, the Bel Air's trio of gold front fender indents, and theawesome rear fender tailfins. And folks probably always will. Back inthe late '50s, many '57s were customized into Doo-wop and rock & rollsong-blastin' rollin' chariots for the majestic World of Wheels carshows, local shows, and for magazine stories. They were lowered, hadDesoto or Olds Fiesta wheel covers, dual spotlights, tubular frontgrilles, and were nosed and decked. Many also sported names on the lowerfront fenders or the right bottom corner of the trunk lid, with suchnames as "Earth Angel" after the song by Little Anthony and theImperials, "Lightning Strikes" a song by Lou Christie, "Akeemaway" asong by The Tokens, "Little Darlin'" by The Diamonds, "Angel Baby" byRosie and the Originals, "Rockin' Robin" and many more.

We'll end our story with a short list of both street/show and drag/roadrace '57 owners whose cars made an impact. Many have been mentioned inSuper Chevy over the years.

STREET

Jim Carlson, John Chambers, Bob Drennan, Harold Dougherty, Ringo Starr,Boston Red Sox Jim Rice, New York Yankee Rich "Goose" Gossage, BobChauvin, Ken Hanna, Joe Hrudka, Linda Jacobson, Mike Johnson, TomLeatherwood, John Matzem, Carl Mitcham, Duke Schmidt, Fred Sondles,Wendell Snowden, Bill Tower, Tom Trainor, Jack Walcott, Larry Wallie,and a Classic Chevy Club member named "Slim."

DRAG/ROAD RACE

Joe Allread, Skip Asay, Comp Cams' Paul "Scooter" Brothers, JohnBarkley, Jack Bayer, Tony Christian, Ed Ciccone, Ron Filkins, BrianHill, Latham Hill, Frank Iaconio, Bob Lambeck, Jeff Littleton, AlMaynard, Tom McEwen, Bruce Morgan, A-1 Automatics' Marv Ripes, NormRollings, Weldell Scott Sr. and Jr., Stan Shaw, Stahl Headers' JereStahl, Rob Vandergriff, LWA Automotive's Lamar Walden, and Zip Products'Wayne Walker.

For fifty years, the '57 Chevrolet has never left the world arena. Ithas only gotten better and better and better. Amen.

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