1957 Was Best Year For Car Designers

1957 Was Best Year For Car Designers
By Greg Zyla

Q: Greg, if you had to choose one year from the decade of the 1950s as the best overall for cars, what year would it be? Gail M., email from Endicott, NY.

A: Gail, if we’re talking about overall design, I’d select 1957 as the very best, as all of the big three and the independents had some great looking cars.

1957 Car Designers, Greg Zyla, Auto Round-Up, 1950s, 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawks, 1957, impressive hood design changes, supercharger version, 275 horses, powerful V8, Rambler, 1957 Rebel, first unofficial muscle car, powerful 327 V8, 1957 Chevy Bel Air, 1957 Pontiac Bonneville, Tri-Power 347 inch V8 with 317 horses, Buicks, Cadillacs, Corvettes, Oldsmobiles, 1957 Chrysler 300, DeSoto firedome, Hemi, Dodge Royal Lancer, Plymouth, 1957 Fury, Christine, Stephen King, Thunderbird, 1957 Ford Custom, T-Bird Supercharged, NASCAR, Ford Fairlane, smaller fins, 1957 Mercurys, 1957  Continental Mark II, chromed, station wagons

A Studebaker advertisement (Courtesy former Studebaker Corporation).

Off the top of my head, the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawks were gorgeous, although the design appeared in 1956. But in 1957, Studebaker made some impressive hood design changes to adapt to a new Supercharger version, which produced 275 horses from the powerful V8. Today, this car is still one of the very best from 1957, and was commemorated by the USPS with a special stamp in 2008.

Other independents that had great cars were Rambler, as its 1957 Rebel was the first “unofficial” muscle car sleeper thanks to a powerful 327 V8 under the hood. This engine motivated the car to unheard of performance for a “family sedan.”

GM had some great looking cars, especially the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, available with fuel injection, and the 1957 Pontiac Bonneville with a Tri-Power 347 inch V8 with 317 horses. Joining the GM group were the always good looking Buicks, Cadillacs, Corvettes, and Oldsmobiles.

Over Chrysler way, the 1957 Chrysler 300 and Desoto Firedome with Hemi motivation are still highly regarded collector favorites, as are the Imperial and Dodge Royal Lancer. Plymouth also cashed in, especially with its beautiful 1957 Fury, which was “christened” as “Christine” in the hit movie of the 1980s. The movie was directed by “Halloween” director and horror master John Carpenter and written by the highly accomplished horror/
suspense author Steven King.

The 1957 Fords featured its last two-seater Thunderbird, and the powerful 1957 Ford Custom and T-Bird Supercharged versions for NASCAR. I always felt the Ford Fairlane was one of the best looking cars for 1957, with smaller fins and well done front end treatment. The 1957 Mercurys, however, weren‘t as nice as the Fords, although the 1957 Continental Mark II and the regular full-size Lincolns made up for Mercury’s “profoundly chromed” and heavy looking front end.

Thus, I’d have to go with 1957 as the year of the best designs of the decade. Also noteworthy were the station wagons, as they were also good looking and very popular with families.

Thanks for your question.

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Originally posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 10:52 am
Category:  Auto Round-Up News

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