AJ’s Car of the Day: 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air 2-Dr Hardtop

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air 2-Dr Hardtop

Car: Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop

Year: 1955

What makes it special: The 1955 model year is considered a huge turning point for Chevrolet cars as well as a major success. The 1955 Chevrolet was available in three models: the 150, 210, and Bel Air. The ’55 was the first successful Chevrolet with an optional V8 engine. Chevrolet had produced an earlier car with a V8 in 1918 known as the Chevrolet Series D, which used a 36 horsepower overhead valve 288 cubic-inch V8, but it remained in production for only a year. In 1955, Chevrolet decided to fit its new car with an overhead valve V8 engine design, which was similar to the 1949 Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” V8 engine which was an earlier GM success. Chevy’s new 265 cubic-inch overhead valve V8 was designed to be smaller, lighter, and more powerful than previous V8’s in the auto industry, and would come to be known as the “Chevy small block”.

What made it famous: Additionally, Chevrolet drastically changed its body design. The 1955 Chevy had smooth straight panels on the sides and hood. This was a major departure from previous years for Chevrolet. For1955, Chevrolet designed the entire car with the full shoebox look. Along with the flatter straighter panels, the ’55 also had modern cue’s like wrap-around glass on the windshield, and triangular tail lights that jutted outward. This new look, combined with new power and engineering, made the ’55 an instant hit with the buying public and a critical success. The 55’s top trim offering was the Bel-Air, which had more chrome than the 150 or 210. The Bel-Air, 210 and 150 model could be bought as a four door, or could be bought as a two door with a post between the front and rear passenger windows, known as the two-door sedan.

Why I would want one: Ever since Bob Falfa drove a 1955 2-door 210 post sedant into town to race the unbeatable John Milner in the 1973 George Lucas movie “American Graffiti.” I’ve wanted a 1955 Chevrolet.

Fun fact: The ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevy’s are extremely sought after by collectors, enthusiasts and hot rodders, and the three model years are often referred to by the given nickname of the “tri-fives”. Collectors will pay premiums for 2 door models, and even more for the Bel Air version, especially the two-door hardtop. Today, 1955 Chevy two door hard tops command top dollar.
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