Just having photographed a last generation Pontiac Grand Prix for another editor’s article, I turned around to be presented with one of the more famous derrieres in automotive pop-culture.
A 1957 Chevrolet that is obviously not a pampered two-door hardtop and being used with regularity isn’t an everyday sighting. But, damn, the ’57 Chevrolet is of the most seemingly ubiquitous old rides ever, a car that is recognizable to even those unenthusiastic with the auto world. After a bit, a familiar refrain into my head.
The Traveling Wilburys was founded in 1988 by George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan – each highly successful in their previous musical endeavors. Handle With Care is arguably the best of a terrific collection of songs, a song that was quickly on my mental playlist, prompted by our red Chevrolet sedan.
The history of each of the Wilburys is somewhat akin to the history of the 1957 Chevrolet, a car that was a conglomeration of many prior successes.
After many years of being perched atop the sales chart, powered exclusively by six-cylinder engines since 1929, Chevrolet introduced their first V8 engine in 1955. As Ed Cole, Chief Engineer at Chevrolet beginning in 1952, stated about the development of the engine:
I had worked on V8 engines all my professional life. I had lived and breathed engines. Harry Barr and I were always saying how we would do it if we could ever design a new engine. You know you want five main bearings – there’s no decision to make. We knew that a certain bore/stroke relationship was the most compact. We knew we’d like a displacement of 265 cubic inches….And we never changed any of this. We released our engine for tooling direct from the drawing boards. That’s how wild and crazy we were.
It seems this approach wasn’t limited to the mechanics of the 1955 Chevrolet; design principals Clare MacKichan, Carl Renner, Chuck Stebbins, and Bob Veryzer were faithfully working under Harley Earl’s dictate of “go all the way, then back off”.
Only GM could be so brazen in their design approach. 1955 was a milestone year at Chevrolet and they wanted to effectively rid themselves of the dull part of their dull yet durable reputation that had been cultivated for years.
For those familiar with agriculture, an effective way to rid your fields of old vegetative detritus is to burn it off; that’s pretty much what Chevrolet did.
This strategy obviously proved itself successful as the myriad improvements found in the 1955 Chevrolet allowed retention of the title of best selling car in the United States. Offered in three trims and eight different body styles, these bodies carried through to 1957, making the 1955 to 1957 Chevrolet line a Swiss army knife of sorts, a car that could be tailored for any job demanded of it.
It was during this period the automotive manufacturers were rather involved in racing, particularly stock car racing in NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing). Naturally, Chevrolet offered a car for this purpose, also.
The formation and history of NASCAR is intriguing unto itself, but suffice it to say the 20th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (ratified in 1920 and referred to as Prohibition, it prohibited making and consuming alcohol in the United States) led to a ripe opportunity for risk-taking entrepreneurs. These industrious individuals established distilleries which often operated in remote areas at night – thus, the term “moonshine”.
Needing to provide delivery and transport, plus keeping ahead of the enforcement of Prohibition that became more prevalent in the early 1930s, cars were suitably enhanced for both added performance and an additional load. Many of those who later ran moonshine, such as Junior Johnson, evolved into drivers in the stock car circuit.
For 1957 Chevrolet offered four versions of the 283 as per its brochure; other sources state there were six different versions, but both agree the one having the highest output was fuel-injected. Meanwhile the 265, an engine viewed as so ideal in displacement only two years earlier, was relegated to being the base V8 engine and available only with a manual transmission.
Despite its sales loss to Ford, Chevrolet was very much a force in the ever-more visible NASCAR circuit. Racing was such serious business Chevrolet even published a stock car guide for the prospective racer. A tailored car, indeed.
Racing was such an attractive business for Chevrolet they sent Vince Piggins, one of their performance engineers, to Nalley Chevrolet in Atlanta, Georgia.
Piggins had worked at Packard before becoming the person behind Hudson’s formidable NASCAR presence in the early 1950s. Leaving for Chevrolet around 1955, Piggins set up shop at Nalley Chevrolet with the formation of the Southern Engineering and Development Company.
It was during this time that racing was experiencing some profoundly painful events. An enormous mishap at the LeMans race in 1955 that killed 82 people put racing on the international level under a different degree of scrutiny.
When a Mercury stock car crashed into the stands at the 1957 Virginia 500 on May 19, the Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) decided its members needed to have less involvement in racing. As the stage had been partially set at LeMans, it makes for speculation if Southern Engineering was a method for Chevrolet to maintain discreet involvement in racing.
Piggins, working within the GM parts bin, helped pioneer the use of heavy-duty off-road parts for racing while working in Atlanta. He knew any pretense of having specific racing parts would be problematic.
While at Southern Engineering, Piggins developed what is likely the most legendary 1957 Chevrolet of all time – the Black Widow.
Using the 3,100 pound One-Fifty series two-door business coupe as a starting point, Piggins made a multitude of modifications and improvements throughout the car using off-the-shelf GM parts. Using, among a host of other things, a six lug rear axle, a 20 gallon fuel tank from the taxi line, a higher capacity radiator from one of the upper tier GM brands, and a nicely tweaked 283, the Black Widow cars racked up a highly impressive list of wins on the NASCAR circuit, handily beating Ford to earn the Pure Oil Manufacturer’s Trophy that year.
Incidentally, Piggins was later the person who looked at SCCA racing as a tool to help the Camaro steal some of the spotlight from Ford’s Mustang. For homologation purposes, it was Piggins’ idea to use a Chevrolet 327 block combined with a 283 crankshaft to create a 302 cubic inch V8 that met engine displacement requirements. Piggins would dub this specialty car the Z/28.
Our featured car isn’t exactly in the same rarified air as the Black Widow. With 254,000 Bel-Air four-door sedans sold, this was the second most common Chevrolet for 1957, second only to the identically bodied but lower trimmed Two-Ten series. (Update: This is a Two-Ten.)
While pondering how to put this article together a long lost snippet of conversation emerged from the depths of my brain. It was another 1957, only the Sport sedan (four-door hardtop) that graced the driveway of my grandparents many moons ago.
At ages 30 and 33, my grandparents traded off their 1953 Chevrolet Two-Ten for a new, pink(-ish) and white 1957 Bel-Air four-door hardtop. Like many family cars, it served through many transitions in life, such as bringing my newborn uncle home from the hospital and in teaching my mother how to drive.
Obtaining her drivers license in early 1963, my mother was occasionally allowed solo trips for the five miles into town. On one such trip, she somehow managed to miss the driveway and ran the Bel-Air into the substantial ditch in front of my grandparent’s house. Having sustained some degree of body damage, my grandfather had it repaired but, being of a certain mindset, figured this was a predictor of future ailments so he promptly traded it for a 1964 Chevrolet Bel-Air.
For reasons now lost, my grandfather knew the gentleman who soon purchased his former, pink Chevrolet. The new owner only owned it a short time as one night it was stolen by a couple of youngsters. Enjoying the four-barrel on its 283 just a bit too much, the driver lost control and crashed into a tree, killing both of them.
Any indignities experienced by this particular Chevrolet haven’t had any lasting visual affects upon it.
The 1957 models have been blasted for being a little excessive, but when a car presents a view like this a person can’t help but appreciate it on some level.
No doubt this Two-Ten has experienced some revitalization and parts replacement rendering this chariot into a unique category for its brethren – a car that one wouldn’t think twice about using as intended and not being concerned about an occasional blemish.
So while I have often been lost as to why these 1957 Chevrolets have captured the fancy of those that set the tenor of popular culture, there are certainly some bits that are attention-getting. It’s got just enough fin, just enough chrome, and without being 1958 Buick bizarre.
So while Ford and Plymouth fought a valiant fight in 1957, Chevrolet, in the long run, has remained popular since it was new, with the 1957 capping off an excellent three-year run of Chevrolets.
Maybe something else from The Traveling Wilburys is more apt for the 1957 Chevrolet as that’s exactly what it was.
Found April 22, 2017, in Osage Beach, Missouri
Related reading: 1957 Chevrolet Fuel-Injected 283 V8 – Ahead of its Time and the Competition PN
This is what we got four doors manual gearbox six cylinder or optional V8, from what my dad told me the 57 was a bit of a hard sell after the pre ordered cars were delivered no more were requested which after plenty of sales in 56 was a surprise, three years of basicly the same car had exhausted buyer demand, 58s sold ok though the new shape got customers in the door.
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WOW! Still in daily use. I live near Nyack, NY. Up until four years ago I used to see an elderly couple in their original-owner purchase 1953 Chevrolet 150 2-door sedan. They would smile at those of us who recognized their reliable old car. Pops would be behind the wheel. I know that it was manual shift and it had a heater. Anything else optional I doubt was on this car. PUTT, PUTT! Keep that ’57 running!
Actually, Chevrolet did have an earlier V8 engine:
Indeed they did, but this was their first popular V8.
I did find an example of their initial attempt in Mississippi: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/the-tupelo-automobile-museum/
“You take your I-85 South to Stewart Avenue, take a right, and there it is on the left. That’d be Nalley!”
I bought my used ’82 Cavalier from Nalley…
Great writeup. Years ago in college (mid 1980s), I went to an Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) meeting held at a guy’s farm North of Atlanta. He took us out to an old barn, and sitting inside were a half-dozen ’55-57 Chevrolets. All ran, and most were wearing original paint. One was a factory black over white two-tone…
And going back even farther in memory, a neighborhood friend’s dad had an old tri-five sitting up on blocks in the back yard. We got to play in it every so often, as it was just a ten-year old, used-up car at that point.
I don’t have much to say about the ’57 Chevy. As for the Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 2 was clearly their best album
Must have been magical to see this amidst the monochrome Eurasian blandness of that parking lot.
Very informative account, and worth a second read.
The hardtop looks so much in the artwork than the saloon in the photo. The hardtop roof line and rear window shape is quite striking – you can see how that caught on.
The reason the Steering wheel hub says “210” is because the car Is a 210. Belairs had a fluted anodized insert on the rear quarter trim fill area, 210s if ordered with the optional “tu tone” had the secondary color in that same area as well as on the roof.
Interesting. I was torn for quite a while about which it was. Looking at the 1957 brochure for the Two-Ten is what led to my determination as I didn’t seen anything about the optional tu-tone.
However, the brochure does show the dashboard of a Bel-Air and it says “Bel-Air”. The dash on this one says “Chevrolet” so I agree this likely is a Two-Ten.
Great write up Jason. Love the use of the Travelling Wilbury’s Handle me with Care. That song is on my regular rotation on my phone.
That brochure picture is an early release, and the 210 trim was revised before production. There are a couple of giveaways on why this is a 210. The lack or gold trim for the fender louvers, the short chrome moldings on the top of the fins, the lack of the gold anodized grill, and of course the lack of anodized insert in the fin. Jason W is correct, about the two tone 210’s. One colour 210’s looked like this:
This is good confirmation; thank you. I updated the text and title after Jason’s comment and am happy you chimed in.
And I really was torn about which trim this car was. Regardless, it was good to see it being used for a run to the grocery store.
Nice write up, Jason.
CC Effect: My Dad texted me yesterday with the picture below of what appears to be a Howard County Maryland Police Car from the era.
I too was confused. I texted him back and said the police would’ve likely used a One-Fifty or maybe a Two-Ten, but not a Bel Air. I thought the same thing looking at the picture of the car and thinking it was a Bel Air. Maybe it is a Two-Ten.
At least it’s a proper 4-door sedan. I’ve seen some police tribute cars done up using 2-door coupes or 2-door sedans, and I don’t think that the cops would’ve gone there. They never look quite right.
The car of which he texted me a picture yesterday seems to be the same (only in Black and White) as the subject car, thus the CC Effect call-out.
Sorry for the picture’s small size, but he texted it to me from his iPhone. Perhaps you can still make out the details.
Dad’s first car was a ’56 Chevy Two-Ten four door sedan in Green and White, much like the subject car, but only a year older. What he really wanted at the time was a ’57, but couldn’t afford it.
“At least it’s a proper 4-door sedan. I’ve seen some police tribute cars done up using 2-door coupes or 2-door sedans, and I don’t think that the cops would’ve gone there. They never look quite right.”
From what I understand, police cars in the 1950s and earlier decades often were 2-door cars. That seemed odd to me the first time I encountered it, too, but it’s apparently just how things were done back then.
See the 1942 and 1953 Chevrolet Missouri state police cars in the post below:
The 1956 Chevrolet Police Car brochure at the link below confirms that ’56 Chevy police cars were available in 2-door form:
As late as 1960, you could still order a 2-door full-size Chevy police car:
Pure speculation on my part, but in the pre-partition days 2-doors may have had the same theoretical benefits parents found with coupes before child seat regs – preventing the rear occupants from falling out/escaping. The Partition like the Child safety seat spelled the demise of 2 doors for anything short of an interceptor vehicle.
I agree though, even real life historical 2-door police cars just seem “wrong”
Eric703 left a picture of a ’63 Plymouth police car here just the other day at a comment.
Frankly, 2 door police cars make quite a lot of sense. No need to disable door latches. Lighter, and cheaper. And just how often did a police cruiser really use the back seat?
Retro-Stang, the use of two-door police cars lasted much longer than it would seem. Ford had them through at least 1975 – if not a bit longer. I agree with Paul as they do make a lot of sense, especially for ingress and egress when weighted down with sidearm, etc.
These were used; a two-door Ford like this was used by one of the New England states, I’m thinking Rhode Island.
Funny, but my Dad said the same thing regarding 2 door cop cars when I brought this up. He said, “Crminals can’t escape”. A short text, but I think he was saying something here that was the mindset back then that XR7Matt brings up about how 2 door cars were popular with parents for child safety back in the day. Shortly after I was born, my Dad traded in his four door ’56 Chevy Two Ten for a two door ’60 Dodge Dart Seneca like the one pictured below (even in the same light blue) citing that very reason… child safety. His didn’t have the police livery of course, but when I showed him that picture was when he made his “Crimianls can’t escape” comment. I suppose two door police cars were just more common back then.
Growing up in the rural midwest during the era, the older couple next door had the twin to this green two-door 210, but with the period correct wide whitewalls and a green interior. They traded in a 53 210 for the new 57 and kept it garaged and as immaculate as the one in the photo. As a kid I thought it was an antique by the time they traded it for a sleek new 63 dark blue Bel Air sedan, again with dog dish caps but optional narrow band white walls. All three Chevies had the six and Power Glide and provided the service and reliability for which they were well known, i.e, the Camry of the time.
Actually it was spelled out on the steering wheel, “Two-Ten.” I suppose the low-line had it spelled out, too: “One-Fifty.” Of course if you had bought the high-end, you could revel in “Bel-Air” when driving your 57 Chevrolet.
A constant source of maintenance headaches on our 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten six-passenger wagon (six-cylinder, two-tone Highland Green main color, Surf Green roof and side spear) was the front ball bearings. Current aftermarket roller bearings have obviated the need to replace them frequenly. Our Blue Flame Six also had a way of breaking valve springs, and punching out valve caps, until an aftermarket top oiling system was added. By then the left rear door was rusting, so in 1964 it was sold off.
I think the contrasting side spear was an option at extra cost. It did look nicer than the plain arching chrome strip.
As a kid, I did not appreciate the styling of the 1957 Chevrolet (and still don’t), much preferring the Plymouth and Ford. But I did like the gas filler hidden in the left fin.
My Dad’s father and one of his two brothers also bought 1957 Chevrolets, one a two-door Two-Ten sedan, the other a Bel-Air four door sedan, with Dusk Pearl main body color and white roof (Bel-Air) or white roof and side spear (Two-Ten). Grandfather died in 1961 and this car went to the youngest brother. The other one was traded in for a 1961 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop. It would be the only time in the family when three family members owned the same year and make/model car until three 1974 Plymouth Valiants arrived.
I think of the 57 Chevy as the last man standing. Ford and Plymouth offered all of the sex and sizzle when they were new, but the slightly dowdy Chevy turned out to be the better car over the long haul.
As tired as I get of seeing these in media, I love seeing a mid level sedan playing the role of the grizzled veteran Very nice!
1957 was a banner year for Ford and Plymouth – Chevy, not so much. Ford may or may not have outsold Chevy that year and Plymouth probably could have outsold both had it been able to keep up w/ demand.
Of course, the 1957 Plymouths were hastily assembled as were all the other very much in demand Chrysler products that year – and they paid for that in 1958.
Look close at the 4 door hardtop, and you will see the rare dash mounted rear view mirror available only on the early 4 door hardtops.
Sharp eyes – or a huge screen! Well spotted.
A couple of blocks from where I live there’s an auto repair shop surrounded by cars from various manufacturers and of various vintages. One car that has been parked out front for months is a 57 Bel Air 4 door sedan. I’m going to guess it has a V8 under the hood as it sits on a very chunky set of alloy wheels.
(I just realized today that this car is 60 years old.)
It’s probably the oldest vehicle at that repair shop.
It’s amusing that in the past two days, we’ve looked at a Mustang and a ’57 Chevy — hard to think of two more iconic vehicles, and neither of which has historically received much attention here at CC. I’m glad you stopped to photograph and write up this car; the article’s a great take on the ’57.
Your comment that the ’57 Chevy is “recognizable to even those unenthusiastic with the auto world” triggered a long-recessed, and completely irrelevant memory of mine:
Back in elementary school (this would have been in the early ’80s), I liked to bore people by naming every model of a particular type of car… like every model of Chevrolet. (Clearly, the ability to read other people’s social cues came late to me…).
One day, I was doing this to another kid in school who didn’t care much about cars, and he told me that I forgot a Chevy model — he said there’s a ’57 Chevy. I told him “No, ’57 is a year, not a model,” but he wouldn’t accept that as an answer because his dad always talked about ’57 Chevies. This argument went on for quite a while, and it really annoyed me, as you can tell, since I remember it 30+ years later.
I have, though, forgiven the ’57 Chevy for being so popular.
Clearly, the ability to read other people’s social cues came late to me…
That’s a very relatable statement on some days. You’ve now reminded me of an old Andy Rooney segment, he being the endearing resident grump at 60 Minutes.
On a chalkboard he had written every model of Chevrolet he could think of – Caprice, Chevette, Citation, Corvette, Chevelle, and Monte Carlo. His fuss was how inconsistent GM was (something that never really happened, did it?) by having all these car models that start with a “C” but then having a Monte Carlo. He said if GM wanted to get with it, it should have been called the Carlo Monte.
I tried to find this clip a while back for my article on the ’76 Monte but could not. But you’ve reminded me of this!
And the mental meanderings don’t end there:
Haha, great point on the Mustang and the 57 Chevy. If we could finish off the week with a 59 Cadillac, a Corvette Stingray and a Hemi Cuda we would have the CC royal flush, don’t you think? Maybe we need a CC overexposed icons week sometime.
Haha, as a person with Asperger’s I can relate to picking up on social cues late… I used to ask everybody what kind of car their parents had in elementary and would be frustrated by the “I don’t know” answers. I too would have been greatly irked at another kid smugly asserting that a non-existent model was indeed real.
Back in ’58, I took drivers ed in a red and white ’57 Chevy 210!
It’s too bad the ’57 became such an icon. I just try to ignore that as much as possible and still see it as I did as a kid: a great used car. In fact, pretty much the best used car. And that’s exactly how the rep of the tri-fives was made. A whole lot of Americans realized that the substantially larger, heavier, lower, longer and poorly-made cars Ford and Chrysler started selling in ’57, and GM in ’58 were crappy, in terms of a number of actual objective qualities. So the demand for these well-built, trim, athletic, relatively efficient Chevies boomed. They were the last of the “right-sized” big cars from the Big 3 until the downsized ’77 GM cars.
I came so close to owning two of these, as a teenager. Long story…but one was a 210 sedan just like this one, but in blue. V8, PG. I really wanted it, much more than so many other newer cars. That was in 1968. And it was still such a solid car; I rode in it numerous times.
I started reading magazines like Car&Driver, Road&Track, and Motor Trend (wouldn’t Motor Trends have been a better title?) while in high school in the mid 60s. I could be wrong but I seem to remember at least one article (though it may have been updated a few times in later years) in Motor Trend in the late 60s or very early 70s detailing the best used car buys. The cars had to be affordable, reasonably reliable, and good looking/attractive to “John Q. Public”. A couple of the cars that were recommended were the Triumph TR3, the mid 60s Oldsmobile Cutlass (66 or 67), and the 57 Chevy. For some reason those 3 stick in my mind, probably because the magazine “endorsement” was just 1 more reason why I needed a TR3 and wouldn’t feel I had thrown my money away when I finally bought one.
The article listed probably 10-12 cars in total, all of which were able to be bought for under $2500-$3500 back then. The other part I remember was the great drawings that accompanied each 1-2 paragraph description/explanation of why they chose a particular car and/or year.
Considering I am a Ford fan, I don’t remember any Ford product being recommended…but surely they must have included the Mustang or Falcon. Perhaps a Fairlane?
The worse thing about the 57 Chevy is that it sold poorly against the long and low 57 Ford. Chevy rushed the (imho) ugly 58 into production. Which fortuantly was short lived and the big finned 59 came out and Chevy was back on track.
The wrecked ’55 reminds me of poor Mara Scherbatoff on MM’s wedding day.
Also, of Monty Clift who crashed his 55 Chevy into a utility pole and ruined his face (at least he didn’t eject through the windshield in the manner of M.S.).
Mom and Dad traded a 1951 Buick in on a new 57 Bel-Air 2door V8 sedan! Mom always said it was a big hunk of junk and they had to get rid of it after 8-9months. Steering issues, brake issues, body leak issues. Nothing but grief! Then Dad in a fit of Italian pride bought a Fiat 1100-lets say they should have kept the Chevy!
That was even more of a disaster so much so the trade in value was next to nothing and he had to hold onto it for 3 years until a new 1961 Chevy could be bought!
I think white over red’s the worst possible color combination, but that’s a personal thing.
Any day I see a Tri-Five is a good day. Particularly one still in daily use.
Agree on the colour; it says Resale Red and Primer White to me. There are many, many much more attractive two-tones listed for these cars in the factory colour charts.
“In fact, pretty much the best used car”
Many were still running in the early 70s, and shows that GM did produce quality products. Not always “deadly sins”.
Simple designs last, just ask Toyota.
Nice to see a survivor like this. But it’s George and the Wilburys that are making my eyes a little moist this morning. Great choice of music for this post :-).
I vaguely recall one of these being used by the bad guys in Captain Ron. Red, white top, 4 door 57 in driven condition. The significance of that recollection is that that was the very first time I ever knew there was a 4-door 1957 “Bel Air” – which is all I knew them as at the time one (fifty and two ten didn’t enter my vocabulary for years after) – . Growing up in the 90s, I’d pick up a small picture book of cars and 50s cars were represented only by a white or pink 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible and a red 1957 Chevy Bel Air, at a young age you really think that’s all that existed back then if that’s all you have to go by. That dumb movie with this identical Chevy in it really opened my eyes.
You’re such a great storyteller, Jason. An excellent piece. Today was the first time I took notice of the different 4-door rooflines. I mean, I always knew there were post and hardtop versions, but for whatever reason, I had never noticed the actual shape of each roof was almost completely different.
Jason, a very enjoyable and interesting morning read – thank you. That story about the demise of your family’s 57 through the theft by (and death of) young car thieves was dramatic – and not that uncommon back in the day of no seat belts, poor handling, too much booze, and a heavy right foot. Sad story, all around.
Paul is so right about the 57 gaining a reputation through used car sales. In 1968 my first college roommate had a 57 Bel Air convertible, rusty and well worn but still running in its 11th year. It was soon traded for another automotive icon higher on the used car ladder, a Mustang.
Hmmm….Guess Who album cover from 1971…..you don’t suppose…? Nah. Maybe.
Bannatyne Avenue in Winnipeg is a long way from Missouri. I did however, own a ’57 Chev 210 in Winnipeg. Might even had been red originally if you look closely at the pics.
Could it be? Probably not
I’m happy to see that someone remembered that album from The Guess Who.
how bout the scene in “USED CARS” when Roy L Fuchs had the demo derby
driver take his brother’s pristine 57 chevy for a test drive? Did not buy the car
but he did give the guy heart failure
This takes me back to my teen years in the 1970’s, and how iconic ’55-57 Chevies were for all of us who were car crazy…
At one time in the mid ’70’s, my best friend Weldon (may he RIP) had a ’55 210 2-door sedan, I had a ’56 150 2-door, and my younger brother had a ’57 210 2-door. All of these were eminently affordable because they WERE simple and in many ways, ‘just another used car’. I know none of us had much money to spend or maintain cars.
IMHO, the other reason all 3 years are at iconic status is because Chevrolet ratcheted up the brand. After all those years of six-bangers, you could buy a Chevy with a V-8 (yes, I know about the 1917-18 one). They LOOKED cooler than their predecessors. And as time went on, they became known for their reliability.
What better to become iconic?
I have never really cottoned to the ’57 Chevy, I prefer the ’55s .
When I came back from Guatemala in 1976 I landed in Boston, Ma. and a friend told me about a ’57 Chevy Rag Top, he knew I worked on old cars and said ” since you’re looking to drive to California, this ’57 is only $35 and I bet you could get maybe $500 for it in car crazy Los Angeles after you fix it up a bit” .
I passed .
$35 for a running 1957 Chevrolet convertible . in 1976 .