Greg's List: Pick of the Week - 1955 Bel Air
By Greg Warner
Ah, the 1955 thru 1957 Chevrolet "Bel Air". . . doesn't that name just evoke a sense of cruisin' down your hometown boulevard or mainstreet in exquisite style, with the breeze flowing thru your hair! In 1950, Chevrolet introduced it's first "Bel Air" models, but in 1955,56 and 57 (commonly referred to as the "Tri-Five" Chevys) they made some awe inspiring design upgrades to these full-sized beauties each and every year! The kinds of changes that created true legends, not only of their time but those that will carry-on forever, into the future! The result of these individually unique, designer's dreams, was an automobile that would change the way we Americans, and the world for that matter, would love to just jump into our vehicles and go for a ride for no reason at all but pure joy of ownership!
All the 1955 Chevrolet full-sized models received new styling ques (including a "Ferrari-like" grille) that the media could not help but praise and even earned the "Hot-One" designation by enthusiasts as well. Unlike many other manufacturers of the day, Chevrolet's styling was crisp, clean and "new". The top-of-the-line "Bel Air" models came with all the features found on cars in the lower model ranges but also included: interior carpet, chrome headliner strips on hardtops, large chrome spears on the front fenders, chrome window surround moldings, fully styled wheel covers and of course, the "Bel Air" script in gold lettering, WOW, spiffy! They had a 265 c.i. V-8 engine option, which featured a modernized OHV (over-head valve), high compression design that was so well designed, it remained in production in various forms, for many decades to come and became known as the beloved Chevrolet "Small-Block"! The base 265 c.i. V-8 came standard with a two-barrel carburetor and was rated at 162 h.p., but later in the year, a "Super-Power-Pack" option was added, including a 4 bbl carburetor, a higher compression ratio and was rated at approximately 195 h.p.! Talk about FUN!
The 1956 Chevrolet full-sized models even received a few styling upgrades, including a full-width grille which encompassed even the front turn indicators and reached from fender to fender. A distinctive two-tone bodyside treatment and graceful wheel openings, front and rear, complimented the restyling touches. At the rear, single housings held the taillamp, stoplamp, and backup lamp (the left taillamp housing even held the "hidden" gas filler opening and gas cap). Among the now, seven different Bel Air models, was a new "Sport Sedan", a pillarless 4-door hardtop (no divider between the front and rear door windows from the beltline to the roof)! It looked really "sharp" with all the windows rolled down, while you were cruisin' thru town with all your friends! From the various 4-door models, the 2-door hardtops and sedans, to the awesome and rare 2-door Nomad wagons many options including seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and even a padded dashboard were available, and you could even get the hot "Corvette" based, 225 h.p. engine!
The 1957 Chevrolet full-sized models were the "cream-of-the-crop" in the "Tri-Five" family and usually have been the most desireable of the three years run of designs. The 1957 Chevrolet "Bel Air" is among the most recognizable American cars of all time and are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts to this day. They are stylish, roomy, fun, enjoyable and even came with tastefully subdued "tail fins" of the period and all that CHROME! ! ! Oh, and did I mention, the 265 c.i. displacement engine was increased to 283 c.i., and when you added the "Super Turbo-Fire V-8" option, you had 283 h.p. at your feet with the help of a continuous, "closed-loop" mechanical fuel-injection system. These babies were dubbed "fuelie" cars and are quite rare and bring all the money in todays market!
So, with all the great things that happened in 1957, who had the top Billboard Chart, song of the year as well as the top film of the year? ? ? What was the singer's name and what was the name of the film? ? ? Thanks for reading and drive safe!
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