Is the ’57 Bel Air better than the ’55 and ’56?

The ’57 Bel Air by Chevrolet is certainly more sought after by collectors, but I’m a fan of all three classic designs. To a completely untrained eye they look quite similar. Most Chevy fans (and classic car enthusiasts in general) can quickly spot the difference between all three years of the Bel Air.

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

This is a beautiful 1955 Bel Air.

55 Bel Air

You’ll notice that the ’55 has the completely horizontal trim on the back quarter panel seperating the upper and lower quarter panel (unlike the upward slant of the ’57 Bel Air fin). And, the profile of the rear end is pretty square and drops almost straight down from the tail light to the bumper.

55 Chevy Bel Air tail

Here’s a good shot of the rear end of this ’55.

For the 1956 Bel Air model, a couple things were changed that can easily distinguish it from the others. Here’s a 1956 Bel Air:

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

On this ’56 Bel Air, you’ll notice that the fender trim piece isn’t horizontal. It’s curved down towards the lower bumper. Here’s another look at the ’56:

1956 Chevy Bel Air

You can also notice that on the ’56, the trim piece that runs down along the side of the body is much thicker than the previous style, and it is wide enough to allow for a little strip of paint inbetween the chrome. Among some other differences between the two cars is the grill and hood emblem, front turn markers, and front bumper.

In 1957, the design of the Bel Air got tweaked a little more. Here’s a 57 Bel Air:

57 Bel Air

As you can see, the ’57 has a different side trim than does the ’56 and ’55. The trim on the ’57 is a single chorme piece that runs the side of the car, and fans out to the rear end without covering the top of the rear fenders.

'57 Chevy Bel Air

And, unlike the 55′ and 56′ models, the tail fins on the ’57 model have a sharper angle coming back to the tail lights and bumper, creating a much more distinct fin.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

And as you can see, the grill is different from the two previous designs as well.

So – even with these somewhat subtle differences, the 1957 Bel Air has been a much more desired car for classic car enthusiasts and collectors. It would be hard to argue that the ’57 looks dramatically better, so why do people seem to like it more? Did they produce fewer of them making them more rare?

Is the 1957 Bel Air better than the other Tri-fives? Let us know in the comments.


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  • Richard Pope 3 months ago

    I had all 3 of them , first was 1955 dark green had a 6 cylinder, the second was1956 pearl white with black roll , pleaded seats 327 -300 hp V8 with 4 speed Muncie trans , third was 1957 powder blue black rolled pleaded seats 327-300 hp V8 with Muncie trans but back then was young and dumb got rid of them when I turn 21 …
    Have a lot of good memories though … at of 3 Chevy I love the 1956,,,

  • AutopartsZ 7 months ago

    55 is my favorite

  • Jay Jay Johnson 2 years ago

    1955 is my favorite – the “shoebox” the original “all new”

  • Root 2 years ago

    Oh hell ya.

  • Bill Gracey 2 years ago

    Style wise. I like front bumper/grill 55, side chrome 56, hood 57. So 56 overall. Maybe a 56 with a 55 grill and 57 hood would work for me lol

  • xtremedawg 3 years ago

    I prefer the 55 followed by the 56.


  • ray888fl 4 years ago

    I’d like to run some of your articles in Cruisin’ Style Magazine – please contact me if interested. Thanks Ray


  • Warrior 4 years ago

    Most of you seemed to dwell on looks which I agree is a subjective thing, personal at best. My first love is the 57 because in 1965 a friend had a beauty and still has it to this. Now it’s candy red, he’s about 76 years old and still runs it at the drags. He turned me on to the one I have. I bought it in 68, almost cherry. still had the clear plastic seat covers on it from the factory. This is my third and final time through it, I’ll be 74 in July. This will be the fourth engine I’ve put in it beside the original one. I have found that the 57’s are built some what heavier than 55’s & 56’s. The front bumper on 57’s would make two of a 55 or 56. The seamless square tubing frames were stronger also probably due to having more horsepower than the 265’s. Ya’ gotta’ love’em all though, right! Still have four of the old F.I. units and ran a late model unit for eight years on it with no real problems. The units are fairly simple once you really get into them. Hope this helps some of you.

    • Evan Warrior 4 years ago

      @evanevanson Do you still have your ’57? I’d love to see some pictures of it if you have any!

  • Harry 4 years ago

    While I owned the ’56 210…I thought it was the best. Now I’m building up a ’57 BelAire 2dr hardtop and I’m digging it a little more.

  • Dave B 5 years ago

    My 55 2 dr hardtop….It is a 265 power pack and a manual transmission with overdrive…

  • Leland Ford 5 years ago

    57 Chevy has more appeal,class,just a beautiful automobile,I’ve owned all 3,but I am a proud owner of a 57 Bel Air 2Dr HT presently now,they are all sweet.

  • Mo Cassidy 5 years ago

    I have the 55, I prefer it but the others are great looking cars too, Mo

  • Paul Wilson 7 years ago

    Well guys, you say the ’57 looks “dramatically better”. I beg to differ. I absolutely love the ’55s design. The small grille & lack of fins are the main reason. Not to say that I don’t admire the other two models.

  • Jeff Sicklesteel 7 years ago

    56 is my fav.

    • stoessner Jeff Sicklesteel 7 years ago

      I agree with you as a matter of fact, I am the owner of a 1956 Bel Air 4 door hardtop. I think it’s design is an improvement on the 1955. The styling has a smooth beauty about it. I am not a fan of the tail fins on the 1957. You see lots of ’55s and ’57s out there but the ’56s are a real treat to see. I know I sure love mine.

  • Quantummist 7 years ago

    It would be hard to argue that the 57′ looks dramatically better, so why do people seem to like it more?.. You answered your own question…

    • Marim Quantummist 5 years ago

      Pretty sure you thought that said “wouldn’t.” I think it’s safe to say you read it wrong.

  • Ian Norburg 7 years ago

    I prefer the simplicity of the ’55 myself

  • Shawn Bjork 7 years ago

    Very nice car Larry!

  • Shawn Bjork 7 years ago

    After all the years of the 57’s being most wanted. The the 55’s as the main stay gasser/race car. The 56′ is finally getting the attention it very much deserves. The grill/front end styling, front fender curves. Best looking side mouldings, to the tail light/ gas filler lock. What was not to like. All three years,any of the body styles are automotive history. If you can, grab one and drive it often like I do and don’t leave it in the garage collecting dust!

    • Root Shawn Bjork 2 years ago

      i love em all – and I can’t disagree, 56 was such a pivotal year .
      For me, it’s a 57 coupe.

  • Shawn Bjork 7 years ago

    Agree 100%

  • Donald Lee 7 years ago

    me to love them, I had one of them ,wish I had it today

  • Larry Gross 7 years ago

    Flippers were only found on the Hardtops, friend. Pardon but you’re no expert.

  • Joe Masar 7 years ago

    1956 bel air is the best looking to me ,but I wouldn’t get rid of any of them they are a true classic

  • Janice F. Brown Foster 7 years ago

    Yes the 57 is classier than any 50’s cars, Rocco Foster.

  • Steve Fleming 7 years ago

    55 is my favorite

  • Dawn Beeler Medley 7 years ago

    I had a 69!

  • Ashstin Jones 7 years ago

    ’56 chevy Nomad

  • Mark Botsford 7 years ago

    ’56, then ’57, then ’55.

  • Ken Hart 7 years ago

    56 is mine

  • Mark Kennedy 7 years ago

    its like steak its all good !!!

  • George R. Storey 7 years ago

    My favorite is the 55! but I like 56,57,62,63,64

  • Nila Ritchie Raclawski 7 years ago


  • William Matt Curtiss 7 years ago

    55 is my favorite

  • Jack Kennedy 7 years ago

    I like the 58!

  • Classic Nation 7 years ago

    I can’t decide which year I like better! What’s your favorite?

  • Bonnie Severa Trill 7 years ago

    57 is the bomb

  • Bonnie Severa Trill 7 years ago

    57 chevy is my favorite classic car I would love to own one.

  • Larry Gooch 7 years ago

    Nothing better than a ’56 & dashboard lights !

  • Larry Gross 7 years ago

    57 Bel Air is ‘The Granddaddy of Bling’, It was when heads turned and rims stood still.It came in 27 colors, all of them Red, White, and Blue!

  • Scott Winters 7 years ago

    Bonnie, I bet you wish you had it now.

  • Bonnie Fouts Annis 7 years ago

    I used to own a silver 55 just like this one! I named it the Silver Bullet! It was a great car.

  • Waldon Herdman 7 years ago

    55! Personal choice.

  • Kevin Minch 7 years ago

    Being an absolute car nut I gotta say this is hard. Each is gorgeous, each is legendary, each is a solid car, real American iron. The 57 enjoys all the popularity but, minus the skirts I’d go with the 55. But it is, for me, nearly a three way tie.

  • Chris DeCanio 7 years ago

    I think that all three are great but, I’d be more inclined toward the 55.

  • Tom MacFarlane 7 years ago

    For my money the 56 Bel Air is the prettiest Chevrolet ever built.

  • Nelson Rasmussen 7 years ago

    My first car was a black ’57 Chevy convert. I loved that car, but, everyone else liked it’s looks better than I did. Of these 3, I prefer the ’55. It’s cleaner. I never did see why there was all the fuss over the ’57’s. Personally I think the ’58 is THE one.

  • Scott Winters 7 years ago

    I’m partial to the 55 the lines are the cleanest of the 3.

  • Chelsea Landis 7 years ago

    ’56 is the most appealing. More noticeable than the trim is the grille! Hellooooo?

  • Steve Thompson 7 years ago

    Richard Boettger yep I had the choice of what to buy and picked 55 chevy ….looks very cool !

  • Nicholas John Rizzo 7 years ago

    Aside from it’s more appealing looks, there is a nice, and “Advanced”(for the time) option that could be had in the 57. I can put this advantage into one single word that does not apply to 55’s or 56’s, but only to 57’s. That word is “Fuelie” an option only offered in 57. The cars looked better and were mechanically improved over the 55’s and 56’s.

  • Richard Boettger 7 years ago

    Now there’s a good reason(?).Because you own one it’s the best?

  • Steve Thompson 7 years ago

    55 is the best…I own a 55 chevy and its the best car of the tri fives.

  • Richard Boettger 7 years ago

    I agree!! The ’55 was a far step ahead at the time and as someone suggested the first factory hot rod and a far cry from the styling before it. But the 57 was the first to have to FI 283. The mechanical and body spec differences would have been more useful… especially since you (the author) don’t seem to know the difference between a 210 and a Bel Air.A little more research might have been in order here.

  • Salvatore Gigante 7 years ago


  • John Calia 7 years ago

    The differences in appearance are fairly obvious to any car nut (and who would read this other than a car nut?). I was hoping you would summarize he mechanical differences. That would be interesting!

  • Richard Boettger 7 years ago

    In the first place neither of those 57’s are true BelAir’s. In fact my guess is they started life as a lowly 210 which I personally prefer over the trimmier Bel Air. Or perhaps these two cars were culled from the even lowlier 150 series. They have some BelAir style trim on them, but the most important piece, the one that usually gives it all away is missing on both. The trim at the roofline.Now with that said, I used to own a 57. It was my first car, one I had wanted for years before, so I AM a 57 lover. But I like all three year for different reasons. From an appearance only standpoint, they are in order, the 57, the 56 and finally the 55’s.As far as I’m concerned the 58 was a bogus replacement for any of these cars. I hated it then and am still not fond of the bodystyle.

  • Ed Raymond 7 years ago

    I’m a bit prejudice….i like the 55….but do think the 58 impala was an awesom set of wheels.

  • Anthony J. Calabro 7 years ago

    I love the 57,55, qnd 56 in that order

  • Keith Dickson 7 years ago

    The 55 and 56 were “cleaner” designs. The 57 was a pure response to Chrysler products coming out that year with their fins as well as Chevrolet wanting to be the average man’s Cadillac….. The 57 also had the 283 CID and feulie options as well.

  • C Wayne Sigler 7 years ago

    I agree that the 57 is iconic, but I personally prefer the 56. I think it is a sexier car.

  • Norman Schnell 7 years ago

    I think the best one of the three is the 55 bel – air 2dr. post , but love ’em all!

  • Zac Lambert 7 years ago

    the 55 is buy far the best lookin of the three!

  • Irene Marrero-Galizia 7 years ago

    sal look on my page I can’t share but my son in law has this one 56

  • Matt Berryessa 7 years ago

    56 is the sharpest looking to me.

  • Steve Moody 7 years ago

    I like the 57 but to me, the 58 is far better looking than the 55, 56 or 57.

  • John Zaffino 7 years ago

    I don’t agree that the ’57 looks “Dramatically better” than the ’55 and ’56. I think that it’s a personal taste. For myself, I would prefer to have the ’56, the year before the fins. I just think that the two toned color scheme works better on the ’56 than on the ’55, probably because of the curved trim, and I think that it is just a better looking car than the ’57. I, of course, would love to have any of them.

  • Salvatore Gigante 7 years ago

    I love the 57 Belaire the best. 2 door Matador red with postless white top. The 283 with fuel injection or quads. My Dad had a 4-door, 283 with powerglide and 4 barrel carb.