As an icon of its age, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air ranks right alongside Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Leave It to Beaver -- curious for a mass-market car in the last year of a three-year cycle. Nevertheless, these Chevys struck a chord that resonates to this day -- even among those born long after the cars were built.

1957 chevrolet bel air
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air's V-8 engine could go from 0-60 mph in
under ten seconds. See more pictures of classic convertibles.

Of course, there were plenty of reasons to like the '57 Chevys. Though styling was only another facelift of '55, it looked great: longer-lower-wider thanks to prominent new tailfins, a switch from 15- to 14-inch wheels, and a big new bumper/grille. Ribbed rear-fender appliqués readily identified top-line Bel Airs, including the $2511 convertible.

Far more exciting, Chevy's 265 V-8 was punched out to 283 cubic inches and offered in no fewer than six versions with 185 to 283 horsepower. The latter came from newly optional Ramjet fuel injection, which made for near racing-level performance right off the showroom floor. Chevrolet advertised it as the first American production car to achieve the magic goal of "one horsepower from every cubic inch of engine displacement," though the Chrysler 300B's optional engine actually beat it by one year. Even a four-barrel 270-bhp model could run 0-60 mph in well under 10 seconds.

1957 chevrolet bel air
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air produced racing performance right off the
showroom floor.

But perhaps the main reason for the '57s' enduring mystique is that they were the last of the "Hot Ones," arguably the most attractive and roadable Chevys of the decade. As the song says, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

For more classic convertibles of the 1950s, see:

1950 Oldsmobile 88

1955 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Lincoln Premiere

1951 Chrysler New Yorker

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan

1955 Mercury Montclair

1958 Continental Mark III

1951 Rambler Custom Landau

1956 Ford Thunderbird

1958 Edsel Citation

1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta

1956 Lincoln Premiere

1959 Cadillac Series 62

1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham

1956 Packard Caribbean

1959 Dodge Custom Royal

1954 Packard Caribbean

1957 Chrysler New Yorker

1959 Ford Thunderbird

1955 Buick Century

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1959 Pontiac Bonneville

For more information on all kinds of cars, try these: