Sunday, March 6, 2011

1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten 2-door Sedan

"Here's a car designed to put the sparkle back into driving, a car that gives you that glad-to-be-alive feeling the moment you nudge the throttle! Part of the pleasure is performance — and part is the wonderful sense of security that comes from Chevy's superb road-holding and precision control. It's a honey to handle on city streets, superhighways and everything in between."

With it's magnificent lines, the 1957 Chevrolet was the high point of one of the most significant examples of american car styling in the 50s. The "Hot One", introduced in 1955, had surprised with a rather clean and understated design and beautiful proportions. And with inner values, too: the first V-8 engine from Chevrolet since decades made these rather lightweight cars pretty agile on the road. The extensive facelift for 1956 brought slightly boxier proportions and more chrome-"flash" to an otherwise similarly packaged car.

For the 1957 lineup, Harley Earl's design team didn't slow down, but, in contrary, presented a car that now really looked quite different: pronounced tailfins, a horizontally stretched front grille with integrated bumper, squared-off headlamps with integrated air intakes for the interior ventilation and ingenious anodized aluminum trim panels on the "High Fashion" rear fenders of the Bel Air brought brand-new looks to America's most successful lineup of that time.

Longer (by 2,5 inches), and lower (by 1,5 inches, due to the change to smaller 14-inch wheels), with hindsight, the 1957 Chevrolet was an instant classic. Too bad, that most customers weren't that visionary. At the end of the year, Fords completely new lineup had made more buyers decide for a Ford than for a Chevy for the first time since many years. The short-lived and rather stodgy 1958 models shouldn't better this situation: somehow GM styling in general had lost it's cutting-edge appeal to the buying public.

The Two-Ten, pictured here, was Chevrolet's intermediate trim level, which was better equipped than the basic One-Fifty. But for less than $100 extra cost, most buyers opted for the luxurious Bel Air, leaving the Two-Ten being a rather unpopular choice. Thus, the vast majority of mid-50s Chevrolets that populate cuban roads today, are Bel Air, and a Two-Ten, especially a 2-door sedan, now is a pretty rare sight.

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