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Who did ‘57 Better? Ford or Chevy?


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57 Chevy's have always been one of my favorite, classic and timeless designs, so I prefer that. However, I used to not like the Fords much, but a red and white 57 Fairlane convertible is a gorgeous car. (I vastly prefer the regular convertible; not the hardtop convertible, from an appearance perspective). 

 

I remember admiring one in a movie years ago, called "FORD FAIRLANE, ROCK N ROLL DETECTIVE," starring Andrew Dice Clay. 

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Just now, lump said:

57 Chevy's have always been one of my favorite, classic and timeless designs, so I prefer that. However, I used to not like the Fords much, but a red and white 57 Fairlane convertible is a gorgeous car. (I vastly prefer the regular convertible; not the hardtop convertible, from an appearance perspective). 

 

I remember admiring one in a movie years ago, called "FORD FAIRLANE, ROCK N ROLL DETECTIVE," starring Andrew Dice Clay. 

Can’t argue about the timeless design of the ‘57 Chevy. Really beautiful car and this was a very nice specimen! Way better condition then my Ford. 

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I suppose it's also true that we often grow up considering ourselves to be sort of a "fan club" team member of certain brands of cars. Or at least, I and a lot of my friends did. I am a product of a childhood in AACA (back into the fifties), but also graduated high school in 1972 when many great muscle cars were becoming common "used cars." Less than a grand would buy you a hot Camaro, Mustang, Chevelle, Road Runner, etc, etc, and street racing was rampant at every stop light. (I know, shameful and dangerous...but I LOVED it). My dad drove Chevy's (I fell in love with his 57 Bel Air convertible), so I became a Chevy kid...mostly. And admittedly, it was great fun to pick on each other's brand of hot rods...just as it's fun today to pick on the other guy's football team. Mostly in good fun, of course, then and now. 

 

But as I've aged and gotten so deeply involved in the car hobby and the industry which serves the car hobbyists, I've learned to appreciate nearly all the brands of cars. I'm a hardcore Chevy guy, but who DOESN'T admire a 426 Hemi, or a 428 Super Cobra Jet, or a Pontiac 400 Ram Air IV, or a Stage 1 Buick, or a 302 Z28, or...well, you get the idea. 

Edited by lump (see edit history)
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The Fords were really a more modern design but the small block Chevy engine  and the factory support they gave it made it much cheaper to hot rod the Chevy.  Ford gave almost no support and were much more expensive  to hot rod.  This made  all the trifive  Chevies  worth much more as used cars.  In the late sixties and seventies Chevies were still worth something but the fifties Fords were almost free.  This has begun to change as of late but the trifives are still on the whole worth more than the Fords.  Actually I have always liked the shorter wheelbase custom series of Fords more than the Fairlanes and the two door station wagons are also very attractive.

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I semi-daily drive my '57 Ranchero.   Very mild "shaved" custom but dead stock powertrain 292 V8, stick, overdrive.   Never rebuilt.   No PS, no PB, no working heater.   People old and young go NUTs over the car.   '57 Chevs are dime a dozen and they know it.

 

0331181804_HDR.jpg

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Sitting firmly astride this fence, I've always been a fan of both. Chevy was my favorite growing up (I was born in 1948), and I always reckoned they were better mechanically.

I had a '57 BelAir hardtop in high school, 283/4 speed. It had had a hard life but I was over the moon.

Over the last 20 years or so, there has come to be a sort of a fad version of the Ford Custom 300 2 door sedan. Usually with straight front axle, an FE, ideally a 406 and 4 speed. The fad dictates all-over gloss black. Yeah, I know, it's modified, but I like it.

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Hi Victorialynn,

I will admit up front that my view of these two cars is not totally objective since my dad owned a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria that was our family car for 5 years and provided excellent service to our family during that time. The following is my (slightly) biased view of the two cars:

  • The 57 Chevy was the third year of that body style. The 57 Ford was the first year of that body style and emphasized lower lines.
  • The Ford's interior is a little more traditional design than the Chevy's. Both are good designs, just different.
  • The Ford has two wheel bases, the Chevy only one.
  • Every 57 V8 model has Thunderbird V8 power. 
  • The 57 Ford looks like the big brother of the 57 T-Bird.

When Tom McCahill tested the 57 Ford he wrote that the car "cornered flat as a mailman's feet and in real competition style". He finished up his test by saying if "you like it, buy it, you won't go wrong". 

I think your dad had the best car with his Skyliner. Enjoy it as much as you can!

Lew Bachman

1957 Thunderbird Colonial White

 

 

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I've always been a Chevy guy, and like the "tri-five" Chevys.  I also like the "tri-five" Fords,  but consider the Ford Y-block engine to have been a good boat anchor and not good for much else.  If Ford had come out with their small block (221/260 c.i.) when Chevrolet came out with their 265 c.i. V-8 in 1955, I think the Thunderbird would have given the Corvette a bit more competition. 

 

Just my opinion.

 

Cheers,

Grog

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My dad was. GM executive, so talk of Ford or Mopar in our home was discouraged at all times.  I was in the GM building with our family the night they introduced the 57 models.  When the white cover came off the 57 Chevy convertible, it stopped the show.  They may have sold more Fords that yer, but they must have been rust prone or something, because there are a lot more 57 Chevies around these days.

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Chet Krause and I used to lunch together frequently when we were doing work for him.

I'm a Chevy guy but I once asked him "What's the big deal about '57 Chevs?"

His answer to me was "That's the year Chevrolet got it all together."

 

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A 57 Chevrolet is a good looking car. I think it is dressed out better, when compared to the ford. The ford has more styling in the stamping of the body, with trim just accenting/highlighting body lines. While the Chevrolet body is very plain, it is dressed out very well with trim. Not being old enough, or knowledgeable on the prices when the cars were new. I would say price drove both cars to popularity. A 1957 Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Desoto, Plymouth, Dodge, Buick, Oldsmobile all had great styling. I think  a 1957 Hudson, and a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, had questionable styling.     

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50 minutes ago, Xander Wildeisen said:

A 57 Chevrolet is a good looking car. I think it is dressed out better, when compared to the ford. The ford has more styling in the stamping of the body, with trim just accenting/highlighting body lines. While the Chevrolet body is very plain, it is dressed out very well with trim. Not being old enough, or knowledgeable on the prices when the cars were new. I would say price drove both cars to popularity. A 1957 Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Desoto, Plymouth, Dodge, Buick, Oldsmobile all had great styling. I think  a 1957 Hudson, and a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, had questionable styling.     

 

I had been involved helping sell a 57 Hudson a few months ago, that actually sold on this site. It was a nice car but not exactly soothing to look at. 

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21 minutes ago, John348 said:

 

I had been involved helping sell a 57 Hudson a few months ago, that actually sold on this site. It was a nice car but not exactly soothing to look at. 

I love Hudson's. Nobody wants to call their kid ugly, but I will.

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Sitting on the fence but leaning toward Ford.  The one part of the 57 Chev I have never liked is the dashboard.  To me it is not as attractive as the 57 Ford which is is why I am leaning that way but not far enough to fall off.?

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Being old enough to remember 1957, I recall hearing at the time that the '57 Ford had been named the year's most beautiful car. But almost immediately it seemed like the vibe over the Chevy started growing. Meanwhile, my father bought a '57 Desoto Firedome Sportsman 2-door hardtop. I remember cops pulling us over just so they could look at the car. It was like a flying saucer had landed; indeed a great-looking car, and with the Hemi engine it would really run. But it was a rotten car in terms of build quality. 

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My cousin had a 57 ford Fairlane 500 two door hardtop in yellow and black. It was a great car and handled all the abuse two teens could give it. I had a 57 Plymouth that was ok too but that Ford hardtop will always be my favorite. For some reason I never had much contact with 57 Chevys.

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Surprised no one mentioned the Chev FI that debuted in '57. Was a great year for all, Personally always liked the Eldorado Brogham with suicide rear doors & dual quads best.

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The comparison is skewed depending on what point in history you are comparing from.  In 1957 you are comparing a three year old body shell (Chevy) to a brand new one in two sizes (Ford) at a time when ALL NEW and LONGER, LOWER, WIDER were shouted out as a very big deal.  The larger size Fairlane 500 was marketed as a reach up into the lower medium priced field and in fact there is a vintage sales film on You Tube comparing it (and compellingly so) to a base 1957 Pontiac.  So from a marketing perspective when new the 1957 Ford really moved the needle and the Chevy was just another refresh.  A pretty good refresh, but still bad news in the 1957 market. 

 

But as a used car, say, 5 years later in 1962, the Chevy looked pretty good.  New cars had returned to more subtle, restrained lines and fins and bold two tones were passe.  So now a 1957 Fairlane 500 or Plymouth Belvedere looked like an old 1950s car and the Chevy that was a bit behind in 1957 now looked much less dated than the others.  The basic 1955-57 Chevy body was comfortable and a convenient size compared to the bigger, lower cars that came later.  It was also of better build quality and rust resistance.  I contend THIS point is where the 1957 Chevy began to become an icon, as a solid and serviceable used car.  Of course IMO a 1957 Pontiac is better but it was not destined to be such an icon, too bad for me.   

           

The engines mentioned by our own capngrog were a factor too.  Magazines of the day make me think to the new car buyer in 1955-57 the Ford Y Block was considered just as good as anything.  But by 1962 the small block Chevy was recognized as more serviceable, especially by the teenage owners that would covet the 1957s later in life.  As Grog points out by then the new Ford small block was coming out and that pretty much admitted the Y Block had run its course, Todd C 

 

PS--I agree with others that the dash of the Chevy was odd looking and the Ford headlamps were the weak point of an otherwise very good design

 

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1 hour ago, poci1957 said:

The comparison is skewed depending on what point in history you are comparing from.  In 1957 you are comparing a three year old body shell (Chevy) to a brand new one in two sizes (Ford) at a time when ALL NEW and LONGER, LOWER, WIDER were shouted out as a very big deal.  The larger size Fairlane 500 was marketed as a reach up into the lower medium priced field and in fact there is a vintage sales film on You Tube comparing it (and compellingly so) to a base 1957 Pontiac.  So from a marketing perspective when new the 1957 Ford really moved the needle and the Chevy was just another refresh.  A pretty good refresh, but still bad news in the 1957 market. 

 

But as a used car, say, 5 years later in 1962, the Chevy looked pretty good.  New cars had returned to more subtle, restrained lines and fins and bold two tones were passe.  So now a 1957 Fairlane 500 or Plymouth Belvedere looked like an old 1950s car and the Chevy that was a bit behind in 1957 now looked much less dated than the others.  The basic 1955-57 Chevy body was comfortable and a convenient size compared to the bigger, lower cars that came later.  It was also of better build quality and rust resistance.  I contend THIS point is where the 1957 Chevy began to become an icon, as a solid and serviceable used car.  Of course IMO a 1957 Pontiac is better but it was not destined to be such an icon, too bad for me.   

           

The engines mentioned by our own capngrog were a factor too.  Magazines of the day make me think to the new car buyer in 1955-57 the Ford Y Block was considered just as good as anything.  But by 1962 the small block Chevy was recognized as more serviceable, especially by the teenage owners that would covet the 1957s later in life.  As Grog points out by then the new Ford small block was coming out and that pretty much admitted the Y Block had run its course, Todd C 

 

PS--I agree with others that the dash of the Chevy was odd looking and the Ford headlamps were the weak point of an otherwise very good design

 

Lots of good points, but I actually love the look of the eyebrows on the headlights. 

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57 Chev did not become  an icon for several years after it was made. It was in the used car and hot rod market that it really became popular. There were several reasons for this. One was that it was cheap and common, in every sense of the word. A teenager working in a gas station or sacking groceries could afford to buy one and could afford to keep it on the road and even hop it up because parts were so available, new and used, and so cheap. Combine that with the  very simple 283 V8 and you have the reason the 1955 - 56 - 57 models were so popular.

 

The 54s did not have the V8 and the 58 and up models were heavier with a more complicated chassis design that was harder to work on. So the 55 - 57 was the thing, and the 57 Bel Air hardtop the cream of the crop.

 

Another thing Chev fans would rather not admit is that the big 348 engine that debuted in 1958 was a dud. It would not out perform a good 283. So while Ford, Plymouth and Pontiac moved on to bigger more powerful engines Chev fans were stuck with the small block.

 

The 57 Chev with a hopped up 283 was the thing, for almost 10 years until the muscle car era arrived and Chev offered cars like the Chevelle with 396 engine and Novas with the 327.

 

A little historical quirk. In 1967 Popular Hot Rodding magazine started a series called "Project X". The object was to see if a 57 Chev could be made competitive with a new muscle car. Or whether you might as well scrap it and buy a GTO. The name came from the roman numeral X since the Chev was then 10 years old.

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19 hours ago, lump said:

I suppose it's also true that we often grow up considering ourselves to be sort of a "fan club" team member of certain brands of cars. Or at least, I and a lot of my friends did. I am a product of a childhood in AACA (back into the fifties), but also graduated high school in 1972 when many great muscle cars were becoming common "used cars." Less than a grand would buy you a hot Camaro, Mustang, Chevelle, Road Runner, etc, etc, and street racing was rampant at every stop light. (I know, shameful and dangerous...but I LOVED it). My dad drove Chevy's (I fell in love with his 57 Bel Air convertible), so I became a Chevy kid...mostly. And admittedly, it was great fun to pick on each other's brand of hot rods...just as it's fun today to pick on the other guy's football team. Mostly in good fun, of course, then and now. 

 

But as I've aged and gotten so deeply involved in the car hobby and the industry which serves the car hobbyists, I've learned to appreciate nearly all the brands of cars. I'm a hardcore Chevy guy, but who DOESN'T admire a 426 Hemi, or a 428 Super Cobra Jet, or a Pontiac 400 Ram Air IV, or a Stage 1 Buick, or a 302 Z28, or...well, you get the idea. 

 

 

Yup.  In high school, we taunted each other with "Fix-Or-Repair-Daily", "Shove-Or-Lay", and "MoPar-Or-No-Car".  And we street raced - there was a long, straight two-lane highway with very little traffic just outside town.  We even painted start, 1/8-mile, and 1/4-mile lines across it.  Cops knew about it and came around to chase us off once in a while but usually left us alone - guess they figured we were gonna race no matter what and that was the best place to do it.  I'm a MoPar guy at heart probably because my Dad was, but I appreciate anything automotive - heck, even Yugos have a place in the world.  I'm especially fond of any car that can turn money into smoke and noise.  ?

 

As for the OP, not sure it's fair to show a hardtop next to a convertible (retractable) - just sayin'.  Anyway, I prefer the 57 Chevrolet to the 57 Ford - one can argue the merits of the mechanics but both get the job done.  I just like the Chev's overall styling better, especially the fins.

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My first car was a 57 ford. Nothing fancy, a four door with a six cylinder and automatic transmission. I bought it from my uncle for $50 because he put a new exhaust pipe and muffler on it. I got t boned by a woman driving a 63 Chevy on the way to school and collected 300 dollars from the insurance company. I later had a 55 Chevy convertible, I wish I had that today,not so much the ford. After the ford I bought another $50 car,it was a 1960 Renault dauphine,my first foreign car. Greg.

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55 minutes ago, CHuDWah said:

 

 

Yup.  In high school, we taunted each other with "Fix-Or-Repair-Daily", "Shove-Or-Lay", and "MoPar-Or-No-Car".  And we street raced - there was a long, straight two-lane highway with very little traffic just outside town.  We even painted start, 1/8-mile, and 1/4-mile lines across it.  Cops knew about it and came around to chase us off once in a while but usually left us alone - guess they figured we were gonna race no matter what and that was the best place to do it.  I'm a MoPar guy at heart probably because my Dad was, but I appreciate anything automotive - heck, even Yugos have a place in the world.  I'm especially fond of any car that can turn money into smoke and noise.  ?

 

As for the OP, not sure it's fair to show a hardtop next to a convertible (retractable) - just sayin'.  Anyway, I prefer the 57 Chevrolet to the 57 Ford - one can argue the merits of the mechanics but both get the job done.  I just like the Chev's overall styling better, especially the fins.

True that it’s like comparing apples or oranges, but he happened to park net to me and it got me to thinking... 

 

One thing I like like about this forum is that we can have this conversation and everyone is civil and respects each persons contributions. 

 

As for why why there are so many more Chevys today, I think that is answered by the numerous remarks about what made the Chevy more popular as a used car. Cheaper to keep on the road, due to part availability, easier to work on etc.

 

Also, I have read that there may be more tri fives on the road today then ever produced. Due to the fact that they remaufacture all the parts for the Chevy. They don’t for the Ford. Parts are less readily available also possibly due in part to fewer years with the same style?

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