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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You could order any trim level of '57 loaded (or unloaded) with options. This stripper one-fifty handyman sedan sports radio delete, no clock, heat (optional in '57), a powerglide automatic and a dual quad 283.

FANCY UP YOUR BEL AIR

Fuel injection is known today for its performance, fuel economy, andlow-emissions capability, but in 1957, most Rochester fuel-injectionsystems were on 250hp, smooth-idle 283s, which powered four-door BelAirs loaded with other optional luxury equipment. Examples: externalspare-tire carrier otherwise known as a Continental kit, rear wheelskirts, bumper guards, spot lights, electric windows and seats, powersteering and brakes, signal-seeking radio, tissue dispenser, tintedglass, and even air conditioning. You could buy a '57 Bel Air and equipit with options the more expensive U.S. cars had--a great concept forAmerica's low-price leader. In all, about 702,651 Bel Air two-doors,four-doors, convertibles, and station wagons were sold. By comparison,the two-ten (210) model accounted for about 653,358, and the one-fifty(150) tallied approximately 146,080.

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Because fuel injection was expensive and difficult to tune, the dual carb option was more popular in '57. Buyers had a choice between the hydraulic cammed 240HP 283 or the hot 270HP solid lifter equipped motor. These engines could be ordered in any body style, including the 150 handyman sedans.

POPULAR '57 OPTIONS (prices rounded off for simplicity)

Power Steering: $70
Power Brakes: $54
Power Windows: $102
Power Seat: $43
Turboglide Trans: $231
Powerglide Trans: $188
Three-Speed Overdrive: $108
Air Conditioning: $565
Four-Barrel 283 V-8: $100
Dual-Four 283 V-8: $183
Fuel Inj. 283 V-8: $480
Four-Speed Trans: $188
Positraction Axle: $43

57 CHEVY OPTIONS - THE FULL LIST

Air ConditioningElectric Fender AntennaManual Fender Antenna
Autronic Eye Headlamp ControlFront/Rear Basket UnitsSeatbelts
Wiring Junction BlockSafetylight BracketPower Brakes
Locking Gas CapContinental Wheel CarrierElectric Clock
CompassFull Wheel CoversBumper Cushion
Tissue DispenserGasoline Filter UnitLicense Plate Frame
GlareshadesTinted Safety GlassBumper Guards
Door Edge GuardsShoulder HarnessHeater & Defroster
Horn w/ 3rd NoteTool KitKool Kooshion
Back-up LampsCourtesy LampsCigarette Lighter
Floor MatsOutside Rearview MirrorsInsie Non-glare Rearview Mirror
Vanity Visor MirrorBody Sill MouldingLower Trunk Lid Edge Moulding
Radio: Manual, Push Button, or Wonder BarArmrestsSafetylight with Mirror
Radiator Insect ScreenPower-positioned Front SeatElectric Shaver
Door Handle ShieldsParking Brake SignalRear Seat Speaker
Wheel SpinnersHand Portable SpotlightPower Steering
Vacuum TankWhitewall TiresVentshades
Traffic Light ViewerOutside VisorsInside Visors
Windshield Washer (push button or foot-operated)Electric-power WindowsElectric Windshield Wipers

SALES NUMBERS AND PRICING

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This Nomad of Dave and Sally Orlow first graced the pages of Super Chevyin the April '82 issue. It has a great set of flames and is still goingstrong today.

The rarest Bel Air sold was the Nomad station wagon at 6,534, followedby the convertible at 47,562, and the series 2402 two-door sedan at62,751. The rarest two-ten (210) was the model 2113 sport sedan at16,178, followed by the model 2129 Handyman station wagon at 17,528, andthe model 2119 Beauville nine-passenger station wagon at 21,083. Theone-fifty (150) model 1502 two-door sedan out-sold the Bel Air model2402 two-door sedan, 70,774 to 62,751. The model 1512 utility (no backseat) sold 8,300, and the Handyman station wagon tallied 14,740 sales.The cheapest retail base-price '57 Chevy was the Series 150 Utilitytwo-door at $1,985 with monthly payments of about $50. With a 265 V-8and three-speed manual transmission, its curb weight was 3,159 pounds.That was about 350 pounds heavier than a Corvette. A Bel Air sport coupehad a retail base price of $2,399.

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The two-ten two-door station wagon had 17,528 produced. The one-fiftyseries had 14,740 sales. They are rare today and oh-so-cool. Note thewheels, deep window tint, and red fuzzy dice.

The highest retail base price was the Nomad at $2,857. For just under$183, you could order the twin four-barrel, 270hp 283 V-8 engine. Eitherfuel-injection system cost over $480 extra, and as a result, sales wereexpectedly low. Estimates say a mere few thousand '57s werefuel-injected. Actual production research by the National CorvetteRestorer's Society (NCRS) indicates 16-percent or 1,040 '57 Corvetteswere fuel-injected. By comparison, 1,621 Corvettes had the 270hp 283 outof 6,339 produced--25-percent.

'57 CHEVY PRODUCTION BY BODY AND TRIM STYLE

ONE-FIFTY TRIM LEVEL

BODY STYLECURB WEIGHTLIST PRICEPRODUCTION
Sedan, two-door3,211$1,96670,774
Sedan, four-door3,236$2,04852,266
Sedan, Utility3,163$1,8858,300
Handyman, two-door wagon3,406$2,30714,740

TWO-TEN TRIM LEVEL

BODY STYLECURB WEIGHTLIST PRICEPRODUCTION
Sedan, two-door3,225$2,122162,090
Sedan, four-door3,270$2,174260,401
Townsman, four-door wagon3,461$2,456127,803
Sport Sedan, four-door hardtop3,320$2,27016,178
Beauville, four-door wagon3,561$2,56321,083
Delray, coupe3,220$2,16225,644
Handyman, two-door wagon3,406$2,40217,528
Sport Coupe, hardtop3,260$2,20422,631

BEL-AIR TRIM LEVEL

BODY STYLECURB WEIGHTLIST PRICEPRODUCTION
Sedan, two-door3,232$2,23862,751
Sedan, four-door3,276$2,290254,331
Townsman, four-door wagon3,460$2,58027,375
Sport Sedan, four-door hardtop3,340$2,364137,672
Nomad, two-door wagon3,465$2,7576,103
Convertible, coupe3,409$2,51147,562
Sport Coupe, hardtop3,278$2,299166,426

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Vince Piggins, head of Chevrolet's Product Promotion Department, lovedthis photo and wished to see it in print whenever possible. It was takenat the Pure Oil Fuel Economy Trials in 1957. This fuel-injected '57 gotwell over 20 mpg and won first place. Vince passed away in 1985, and wededicate this photo to him.

CHEVROLET PRODUCTION VERSUS FORD PRODUCTION

To set the Ford versus Chevy sales records straight, we checked manysources, including Jerry Heasley's The Production Figure Book For U.S.Cars (produced in 1977).

From 1931 (the year before Ford introduced its flathead V-8 engine) to1970, Chevrolet's total calendar year car production exceeded Ford's inevery year except 1935, 1945, 1959, and 1966.

Chevy's '55 sales bested its '54 totals by 415,677. Ford's '55 salesbested its '54 total by 369,761. Chevy's '56 cars sales dropped 209,024from the '55 record total. Ford sales also dropped by a whopping390,981. In 1957, Chevy sales still declined but only by 98,469; Fordsales declined by 148,866. The American economy was headed into arecession in late 1957. Many attribute this to not only the '57s drop inoverall sales, but also to 1958's further sales decline by bothmanufacturers.

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This black sport sedan is like new and loaded. Holmen,Wisconsin's Jim Carlson once dated his wife Sandi in an identical '57.You know the rest. Note the dash-mounted, inside rearview mirror. Thecar was born in California and raised in Arizona. It's primo andrust-free.

According to Pat Chapell's storied book The Hot One, total cars salesfor both Chevy and Ford in 1957 each accounted for 24.9 percent of theindustry total. Plymouth sales accounted for 10.7 percent. These three,therefore, had about one-half of the domestic new car sales market in1957.

Unbelievably, many "senior citizen" Super Chevy readers today purchasedbrand-new '57s. One well-known, west coast owner who still owns hiswhite Bel Air today is Larry Ofria of Valley Head Service in Northridge,California. A '55 high school graduate, he jumped right in to thehigh-performance arena. In late 1956, he special-ordered a dualfour-barrel, 270hp, 283 V-8, white-over-red sport coupe. He thenproceeded to hop-up the engine and driveline for competition in theB/Gas class. Today, the engine is long gone, but the mint originalbeauty is stored away in Ofria's fortified garage. The odometer readsjust over 42,000 miles. Oh, if cars could talk!

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