The Iconic and Stylish 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Townsman Wagon

The 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Townsman Wagon is one of the most iconic station wagons from the fabulous 1950s. This spacious and stylish family wagon was packed with special features and customizable options. Its sleek design, roomy interior, smooth ride, and reliable performance made it a popular choice among American families during the post-war boom era. In this article, we’ll explore the history, features, models, options, performance, and legacy of the classic 1957 Chevy Bel-Air Townsman Wagon.

History of the 1957 Chevy Bel-Air

Chevrolet fully redesigned its vehicles for the 1955 model year, ushering in the sleek and flashy Tri-Five era. The Bel-Air series was Chevy’s premium full-size car, offered in a variety of body styles including sedans, coupes, convertibles, and station wagons. For 1957, the Bel-Air received some minor styling updates including a revised grille and taillights. Under the hood, engine choices ranged from the 235 cubic inch “Blue Flame” inline six cylinder to several V8 options.

Styling and Exterior Features

The 1957 Bel-Air Townsman Wagon featured Chevy’s signature design cues from the era including hooded headlights, prominent chrome accents, and a wraparound windshield. Distinctive two-tone paint schemes helped the wagon make a style statement. Available exterior features included chrome roof racks, a power tailgate window, and a rear-facing third row seat that folded into the tailgate when not in use.

Available Trims and Models

Chevy offered the Townsman in three Bel-Air trim levels:

  • The 150 – Standard features included cloth and vinyl seats, an AM radio, and armrests for front and back seats.
  • The 210 – Added extra chrome trim, stainless steel window moldings, and deluxe interior door panels.
  • The Delray – A budget-friendly model with fewer chrome trim pieces and interior luxuries.

Comfortable and Spacious Interior

One of the standout features of the 1957 Townsman was its roomy interior. It provided seating for up to nine passengers when equipped with the rear-facing third row seat. Cloth and vinyl upholstery was comfortable and durable, while thick carpeting helped absorb sound. The dashboard featured a stylish wrap-around design with a broad horizontal speedometer. Upgrades like a padded dash, dome light, and door step plates added function and luxury.

Abundant Customization Options

A key selling point of the 1957 Townsman was the wide variety of optional upgrades buyers could choose from:

  • Engine – V8 options included the 283, 327, and fuel-injected 283 Ramjet.
  • Transmission – Floor or column-shifted manual gearboxes or the 2-speed Powerglide automatic.
  • Comfort – Air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, power windows.
  • Entertainment – Signal-seeking AM/FM radio, rear speaker.
  • Style – Two-tone paint, chrome accents, whitewall tires, wire wheel covers.

Smooth Ride and Capable Performance

The 1957 Bel-Air Townsman lived up to Chevy’s reputation for smooth, quiet rides. Coil springs at all four wheels soaked up bumps and provided a gentle floaty feel over rough roads. The standard Blue Flame six cylinder delivered adequate acceleration for a family wagon while the optional V8s offered more spirited performance. Owners reported excellent braking and handling from the Townsman, especially when equipped with the upgraded power assist options.

The Townsman Legacy

The 1957 Chevy Bel-Air Townsman represented the pinnacle of 1950s American station wagon design. It exemplified the style, customization, and family appeal that Chevy built its brand on in the post-war era. The Townsman wagon continues to have an enthusiastic following among collectors and car enthusiasts today. Its timeless design and appeal make it one of the most iconic family cars of its era.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about the classic 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Townsman Wagon:

How many passengers could the Townsman wagon hold?

With the optional rear-facing third row seat, the 1957 Townsman could hold up to nine passengers. Without the third row, capacity was six.

What engine options were available in the ’57 Townsman?

Engine choices ranged from the base 235 cubic inch Blue Flame inline six cylinder up to several V8 options including the 283, 327, and fuel-injected 283 Ramjet.

How much did a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air Townsman cost new?

Pricing varied by trim and options. A base six-cylinder Delray model started around $2,500. A fully loaded V8 Townsman could top $3,000.

What modern safety features did the 1957 wagon have?

Very few compared to today’s cars. Seat belts were optional. Safety features were limited to basics like parking brake, lights, horns and windshield defrosters. No air bags or ABS.

Are the 1957 Bel-Air Townsman wagons valuable collectibles today?

Yes, a restored or original condition ’57 Townsman can be worth over $50,000. Wagons are less common than Bel-Air coupes/convertibles so they are highly prized by collectors.