Saturday, March 19, 2016

Model Differences of the 1957 Chevrolet

-Alan Arnell

In the late 50’s during the Tri-Five Chevy era there was only one full size car made by Chevrolet, However there were many variations of that one model.  The easiest to identify where the Sedan both in a two-door and four-door, convertible and station wagon.  A little tricker is identifying the difference between the the sedan and the hardtop or as Chevrolet called them a coupe.  The difference between the coupe and the sedan is that the sedan had a B-pillar at the rear of the front door and the coupe did not have a B-pillar.  

Chevrolet also offered a two-door station wagon they called the Nomad.  Spotting a Nomad is easy by the fact it is a station wagon with only two-doors and has a slanted B-Pillar.

Were the real difference is in the different 57 models is their trim packages.  There were three models available, the Belair Air, 210 and 150.  The Bel Air and the 210 had the wedge-shaped side trim on the rear quarter panels. The Bel Air had the wedge filled with an aluminum trim panel with "Bel Air" in gold-plated script. The 210's wedge was painted the same color as the roof with "Chevrolet" chrome script.  The 150 had a single bar of side trim with a horizontal paint divider trim piece behind the front door.

There was a class hierarchy among 1957 Chevrolets.

At the top end was the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air with lots of chrome goodies including chrome window molding and stainless-steel full wheel covers, fuel-injected V8 and automatic. The convertible was only available as a Bel Air. The costliest and rarest was the Bel Air Nomad 2-door station wagon.

Bel Airs came with features found on cars in the lower models ranges plus interior carpet, chrome headliner bands on hardtops, chrome spears on front fenders, stainless steel window moldings, and full wheel covers. Some models were further distinguished by the Bel Air name script in gold lettering.

In 1957 the engine displacement grew to 283 cubic inches with the "Super Turbo Fire V8" option producing 283 hp with the help of continuous-closed loop mechanical fuel injection system. These so-called "fuelie" cars are quite rare, since most Bel Airs were fitted with carburetion. The 1957 Bel Air is among the most recognizable American cars of all time

A second automatic transmission, the Turboglide, was optional upgrade in ‘57. While the original two-speed Powerglide continued unchanged, however the Turboglide provided a continuously variable gear ratio which made "shifting" imperceptible. The shift quadrant on Turboglide cars followed a "P R N D Gr" pattern.

The 210 model was the midrange model of the Chevrolet car in 1957. The 210 name came from shortening the production series number (2100) by one digit in order to capitalize on the 1950s trend toward numerical auto names.. The 210 was discontinued after the 1957 model year to be replaced by the Biscayne.

At the bottom end of the Chevrolet product line was the economy or fleet model named the 150. The car was equipped with a minimum of chrome, six-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual and small hub caps. It had simple interior trim and rubber floor matting.  The 150 took its name by shortening the production series number (1500) by one digit like the 210.  The 150 model was dropped following the 1957 model year and was replaced by the Delray.

The 150 was mainly conceived as a fleet model and little effort was spent marketing it to the average car buyer of the day, although sales weren't limited to fleets. the 150 was most popular with police, state governments, small businesses, economy-minded consumers and hot rodders. Hot rodders liked the car due to its low cost and lower weight than the 210 and Belair.  Chevrolet sold substantially fewer One-Fifties than 210s or the Chevrolet Bel Air in every year of its life.

True to Chevrolet's vision, the 150 was no-frills basic transportation. It had limited options, stark trim, solid colors, plain heavy duty upholstery and rubberized flooring.  Small things like ashtrays, cigarette lighters and even mirrors were extra cost options. Compared to the mid-level 210 or premium Bel Air models, the 150 was stark and bland.  The Chevrolet Sedan Delivery, was part of the 150 line, and was also designated the 1508 in the truck line.

Body style choices for the 150 were also limited to sedans. The handyman wagons in 1957 was equipped with, two-doors. The only body styles specific to the 150 were decidedly fleet oriented — the sedan delivery (a 2-door wagon without rear windows and the rear seat removed) and the business sedan — a 2-door sedan with immobile rear windows and back seat removed. Powertrain choices were limited to manual transmissions and low output engines.
However,  In 1957, a full race-ready version of the 150 was also available.  The racy version was commonly known as the "Black Widow" for its black-and-white paint color. It was equipped with 4-wheel heavy-duty brakes, 6-lug wheels and dual shock absorbers and could be bought with a high output fuel injected engine.

1957’s differences from 1955 and 1956 Chevrolets

The major differences of the 1957 Chevrolet include large rear tail fins, lower tail lights surrounded by chrome, a full-width front grill with a horizontal bar and round, rubber-tipped bumper guards, and unique rear fender side trim. All 1955 - 1957 Chevrolets are basically the same car with minor body and trim variations from one year to the next.

1957 Chevrolet Different Chrome Embellishments

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1957 Bel Air Chevrolet Model Styles

1957 210 and 150 Chevrolet Model Styles

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