If you’re an old car fan like me (and I have to assume if you’re reading this column you are), then I’m sure you can relate to the experience I had a week ago when I went to a motorcycle show at the Pageant Theater in the U-City loop with my son, Jeff.
In a fleeting moment, a really colorful piece of vintage Detroit iron catches your eye! Suddenly, a gorgeous 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air station wagon sped past on my right, all done up in India Ivory and Surf Green. It was certainly a ‘breath of fresh air’ compared to what we generally see on the roads these days.
The Bel Air was the top trim line and one of three series of wagons offered in the 1957 Chevrolet lineup. Lesser model wagons were the One-Fifties and Two-Tens – the same model names which applied to the corresponding coupes and sedans.
Further definition of station wagons of the Two-Ten and One-Fifty models were the Townsman, a four-door, six-passenger floor plan; the Beauville, a four-door, nine-passenger layout; and the Handyman, a two-door, six-passenger model. At the top of the heap, was the glitzy, Bel Air Nomad with special trim all around.
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Power choices were plentiful starting out with Chevy’s proven 235 cubic-inch “Blue Flame” six. Next in the lineup is the Turbo-Fire 265, followed by the Turbo-Fire 283, the Super Turbo-Fire 283 (single 4-barrel carb) and the Corvette V-8 boasting not one, but TWO 4-barrel carbs! A fuel-injection option was offered on the 283 engine, and although offered on all model lines, were primarily ordered on Corvettes. These early fuel-injected engines were often problematic and many owners converted to carburetors to solve the problems.
Chevrolet ad men dramatized the 1957 station wagons by claiming they were “born with a wanderlust – eager to go at the drop of a tailgate!” They certainly were popular back in the day. As an only child, my parents never found the need for a station wagon. I always envied my friends from big families whose parents owned a station wagon. On those rare occasions when I got to ride in one, I always enjoyed sitting in the back rear-facing seats (not featured on these models) so we could make faces at the drivers behind us, but I finally gave that up in my college years.
We’ll have another Breakfast with the FIN MAN coming up soon. Location and date to be announced.