The Iconic 1957 Chevrolet Tri-Five Cars

The 1957 model year marked the pinnacle of Chevrolet’s Tri-Five era, producing some of the most iconic cars in automotive history. Bold styling, powerful V8 engines, and classic 1950s design cemented the 1957 Chevrolet models as classics. This article explores the history, features, models, and legacy of these quintessential 1950s cars.

Debut of the 1957 Chevrolets

Chevrolet fully redesigned its car models for the 1955 model year, kicking off the Tri-Five era spanning 1955, 1956, and 1957. The styling for the 1957 models represented the climax of this design initiative. The public enthusiastically embraced the radically new styling.

Sleek Styling

The 1957 Chevrolets featured lower, longer, wider proportions compared to previous years. Distinctive design elements included hooded headlights, prominent tailfins, wraparound windshields, and “twin scoop” hood ornaments. Two-tone paint schemes helped accentuate the sculpted bodylines. Interiors blended style and functionality, with Strato-bucket seats, colorful trim, and detailed instrument panels.

These styling features made the 1957 models stand out as automotive works of art. The flowing, flamboyant designs personified the exuberant postwar optimism of 1950s America.

Advanced Engineering

Underneath the flashy exterior lay Chevrolet’s advanced, refined engineering. The 1957 models had a new perimeter box frame and upgraded suspensions for improved handling. Optional air suspension provided a smooth, consistent ride quality.

For power, buyers could choose between Chevrolet’s 283 cubic-inch Turbo Fire V8 or the new Ramjet fuel injection option. The fuel-injected cars produced 283 hp, making them among the fastest production cars of the era.

Chevy also offered advanced convenience features like air conditioning, power steering and windows, signal-seeking radios, and electric clock radios.

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Tri-Five Model Range

Chevrolet offered Tri-Five models to suit any buyer:

  • 150: Base trim 4-door sedans and 2-door utility sedans
  • 210: Mid-range 4-door sedans and wagons
  • Bel Air: Well-appointed hardtops, convertibles, sedans, and wagons
  • Nomad: Unique 2-door station wagons
  • Corvette: Iconic American sports car

The wide model selection ensured the 1957 Chevrolets had a car for every lifestyle and budget.

The Bel Air

The Bel Air series stood then, as now, as the most iconic Chevrolets of 1957. Buyers could choose vibrant two-tone color schemes and options like continental kits, fender skirts, and Turboglide automatic transmissions.

The Bel Air convertible epitomized 1950s American automotive exuberance. Chevrolet produced 49,751 convertibles for 1957, cementing the car’s enduring popularity.

The Corvette

Chevrolet also updated the Corvette for 1957. While retaining its sports car focus, the 1957 Corvette gained more refinement with roll-up windows and an optional removable hardtop. The fuel-injected 283 V8 boosted performance.

The 1957 Corvette represented the model’s coming of age as Chevrolet positioned it as a world-class sports car. Racing successes for the 1957 Corvette, including a class win at Le Mans, further cemented its credentials.

The Nomad

Another iconic 1957 Chevrolet, the Nomad represented an innovative new breed of 2-door station wagon. Styled by Harley Earl, the Nomad combined sporty coupe styling with the practicality of a wagon.

Chevrolet produced just 6,488 Nomads for 1957, adding to their exclusivity. The Nomad remains one of the most collectible American station wagons.

Legacy

The 1957 Chevrolets left an indelible mark on the American automotive landscape. Their audacious styling, abundant power, and unique models made them rolling symbols of 1950s optimism.

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After six decades, the 1957 Chevrolets remain enduring classics. Collectors highly covet the cars, with the convertibles being especially prized. The Bel Air and Nomad rank among the most recognizable American cars ever produced.

The 1957 models anchored Chevrolet’s successful Tri-Five era. Their combination of style, performance, and prestige perfectly captured the essence of 1950s American car culture. The 1957 Chevrolets fulfilled GM head Harley Earl’s goal of producing cars with “DYNAMIC OBSOLESCENCE” that would excite buyers year after year.

Restoring a 1957 Chevrolet

Many collectors enjoy the challenge of finding and restoring one of these classics. Here are some key steps:

  • Find a car through classified ads, online auctions, or hobbyists. Matching-numbers cars with original drivetrains are most desirable.
  • Thoroughly inspect the car and assess its condition. Look for signs of rust or collision damage.
  • Come up with a restoration plan and budget. Focus on one area at a time: engine, transmission, interior, bodywork.
  • Join enthusiast clubs to connect with parts suppliers and experts. Clubs also organize events, technical forums, and classifieds.
  • Research correct parts and specifications. Locate rare NOS (new old stock) components when possible.
  • Refurbish mechanical components like the engine and transmission to original condition.
  • Strip the body to bare metal for repairing dents and applying fresh paint in the original scheme.
  • Rebuild or replace deteriorated interior upholstery, chrome, and trim.
  • Finish the restoration by tuning and adjusting the car to meet factory specs.

1957 Chevrolet Values

Due to their enduring popularity among collectors, 1957 Chevrolets command strong prices:

  • Restored fuel-injected Corvettes – $120,000+
  • Bel Air convertibles – $80,000 to $150,000
  • Restored Tri-Five sedans – $20,000 to $50,000
  • Driver-quality project cars – $10,000 to $25,000
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Rare low-production Nomads and 150/210 models often fetch higher prices due to demand outpacing supply. Original unrestored “survivor” cars also attract premium values.

Owning and Enjoying a 1957 Chevrolet

For many enthusiasts, owning a 1957 Chevy represents a dream come true. Here are some tips on enjoying the ownership experience:

  • Consider joining the Tri-Five Chevy club for camaraderie with fellow owners.
  • Exhibit your car at local shows and cruise-ins to share your pride and joy with other enthusiasts.
  • Take your car on scenic drives, road trips, and tours. These cars are made to be driven and enjoyed.
  • Perform preventative maintenance and address problems promptly to keep your car running safely and reliably.
  • Drive your 1957 Chevy on sunny weekends and special occasions rather than daily. Limit your mileage to preserve the car.

FAQs

How many 1957 Chevrolets were produced?

Chevrolet produced 1,499,750 cars in 1957, the most ever up to that point. Bel Air models accounted for 725,220 units.

What engines were available in 1957 Chevrolets?

The 235 cubic-inch “Blue Flame” inline six was standard. Optional V8s included the 283 cubic-inch “Turbo Fire” and fuel-injected 283.

Could you get power steering in 1957 Chevys?

Yes, power steering was an available factory option beginning in 1957 for the first time on Chevrolet cars.

What transmission options were offered?

Standard transmission was a syncromesh 3-speed manual. Optional automatics included the 2-speed Powerglide and triple-turbine Turboglide.

Could you get air conditioning in a 1957 Chevy?

Air conditioning was offered as a factory option starting in 1957. Units were typically dealer installed using Frigidaire components.