Photos by Brendan Moran
The car business was going gangbusters in 1957. Each of the Big Three was pumping out new body styles every other year in an attempt to steal sales from the competition. Horsepower and cubic inches were growing, and the buying public was eating it up. The Big Three, along with the few independents, were racing to deliver the ultimate American ride. Prior to 1957 Chevrolet clearly held the trophy for styling and performance, however things were about to change. Ford's design team perfected what was arguably the most beautiful car of the decade. With less chrome than Pontiac or Chevrolet, the 1957 Ford, in a simplistic way, looked futuristic at every corner. But it wasn't just sheetmetal changes that made the new Ford a success. The fact was that along with beautiful styling, the Ford Y-block received a big power boost.
Starting with a new, longer, and wider chassis, Ford improved ride and handling by using longer leaf springs in the rear and an improved front suspension system. Fourteen-inch wheels replaced the previous year's 15-inchers. The combination of the new body style, smaller wheels, and redesigned chassis lowered the total height of the car by four inches while at the same time lowered the center of gravity without sacrificing interior space. Part of the improved handling came from positioning the rear springs outside of the frame rails, which provided better cornering.
Outside, all-new sheetmetal redefined styling. The headlamps were recessed into deep eye-browed fenders. For the first time, the hood would open from the rear and featured a simple hood ornament replacing the faux mini scoop of 1956. Its grille was similar to the previous years, with horizontal bars creating a wider look. Parking lights were now affixed within the grille, and a new slimmer bumper gave the car a wider look. Ford, like Chevy, was known for dramatic side molding and they didn't disappoint for 1957. Fairlane models included a split horizontal molding that went from the front of the vehicle to the rear edge of the door and laid within it, a stunning ribbed brass insert. Rearward of the door, the molding kicked up and followed the upper edge of the quarter panel. Ford continued to use the single round taillamp design, but it was much larger in size and now included a stylish fin sitting above it at a 45-degree angle. Ford's styling was simple yet elegant.
A first for any manufacturer was the availability of 21 models
Published Dec 7th, 2015
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