MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Photos courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 08.29.2016

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One of the most iconic vehicles in our automotive heritage and history would be the 1957 Chevrolet and Corvette models by General Motors.

The 1957 Chevrolet models are still one of the most popular and admired American automobiles in our culture. Car collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world still talk about the 1957 Chevy models. Although Ford out sold Chevrolet that year, the 1957 Chevrolet models are still on the list as being number one among classic car collector surveys and it has become a pop culture icon.

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The 1957 models were introduced to the public by Chevy dealerships on Friday, Oct. 19, 1956. The models were introduced at the time offering 460 model-to-color combinations which many consumers liked. For example, a customer could order a model with a color called Imperial Ivory over Dusk Pearl or Larkspur Blue over Harbor Blue or Matador Red, which was a part of the solid and two-tone color combinations which were all popular in 1957.

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Out of the 17 color combinations, seven were brand new for consumers. The models were available in the popular Bel Air series along with the Two Ten and One Fifty series. Chevy also produced a series of popular station wagon models including the Beauville, Two Ten Townsman, One-Fifty Handyman and the Nomad along with the great looking convertible models as well.

John Gunnell, former editor of “Old Cars Weekly,” said, “If any post-war car has earned classic status – this is the car.”

The 1957 Chevrolet also had many great, innovative features such as the Turboglide transmission which made for smoother shifting for the driver. The 1957 Chevy cars offered a 250 horsepower Ramjet V8 engine. It became available with all transmissions except overdrive in standard passenger cars, and with the close-ratio or Corvette type power-glide in Corvettes.

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The fuel injection was a first in automotive progress for General Motors. It was the first fuel injection V8 available in a standard production passenger car. The Ramjet Fuel Injection with its great overall fuel economy led to outstanding overall performances for the driver. The Chevy look was freshened with the 1957 model with a sleek and new lowness and length of its lines with high-set rear fenders. One of the most popular 1957 Chevrolet models was the Bel Air convertible model which was one of the most luxurious convertible in its class. Today it’s one of the most expensive collector cars on the market.

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The 1957 Corvette models were great looking vehicles. Those twin exhausts beneath the sleek rear end-design told a great story about many performances with its beautiful handling that matched its great automotive styling. The 1957 Corvette models was a two-passenger sport car that many consumers thoroughly enjoyed. The models had offered a 283 cubic inch V8 engine equipped with a Ramjet fuel injection.

The 1957 Corvette offered the consumer a choice of the standard four-barrel carburetor or dual four-barrel carburetors. It became a popular design with consumers and a fast car on the racing tracks among fans.

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Advertising called the 1957 Corvette models “Toward an American classic... the 1957 Corvette with fuel injection.” The 1957 Corvette models were very similar to the 1956 model styling designs, however, the customers loved them.

Although sales of the 1957 Corvette models were not spectacular they were at least satisfactory with 6,246 models which were sold for a price tag of $ 3,465 dollars. In conclusion, the 1957 Chevrolet and Corvette models will always have their special place in automotive history.

 

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program.

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Ludvigsen, Karl; “Corvette America's Star-Spangled Sports car the complete history.” Published by Automobile Quarterly publications.1973-1974; Dammann, H. George “Sixty years of Chevrolet” Crest Line publishing 1972.)