In our third installment this week of December’s 2016’s Ride of the Month nominations, we feature the 1955 Chevy Bel Air presented by nominee Bill Collopy. Here is some general information about the ride.
Note: This is not information about the actual vehicle nominated for December’s Ride of the Month, just general information on the ride itself. Please check the link at the bottom of today’s article to view all the actual cars nominated for this month’s Ride of the Month.
The full-size 1955 Chevy Bel Air was more upscale and glitzy than Chevy’s other vehicles that year, and it only cost a little more than the mid-level 210. General Motors referred to the Bel Air as “The Hot One” in its ad campaigns.
New Small Block V8
In addition to a standard inline 6, 1955 marked the first time since 1918 that Chevrolet offered a V8 engine. The 265 cu-in, overhead valve design was more powerful, smaller and lighter than many other engines of its day. Although the small block Chevy engine was easy to maintain, an optional external oil filter reduced the frequency of oil changes. The 180 hp “Power Pack” and the 195hp “Super Power Pack” were popular variations of the standard 162 hp V8. The three-speed Synchro-Mesh manual transmission was available with or without overdrive. The two-speed Powerglide automatic was a third option. 1955 was the year Chevrolet transitioned from six to 12-volt battery systems in its vehicles.
Streamlined Styling and Upscale Options of the 1955 Chevy Bel Air
The shoebox body style reflected the prevailing consumer preferences in the mid-fifties. The look featured smooth, straight side panels and a matching hood. The wrap-around windshield added to the stylish, streamlined effect, as did a front end inspired by Ferrari. Buyers could add so many sought-after features to the 1955 Bel Air that some dubbed it “Chevy’s little Cadillac.” Air conditioning and powerized accessories were popular. Power windows, power seats, power steering and power brakes were all available. The new Wonderbar radio attracted a great deal of attention as well.
Some Bel Airs include a post separating the front and rear side windows, while others do not. The postless version is referred to as a sport coupe or hardtop. The Bel Air Nomad was a two-door station wagon with distinctive elongated side windows. Basic Bel Air sedans sold for around $2,000, and the Nomad went for a little more than $2,600.
Today, many refer to the second-generation Chevys produced from 1955 to 1957 as “Tri-fives,” a reference to the three model years during which they were produced. The well-distributed chrome trim, special options and overall style make the Bel Air a popular choice for collectors and enthusiasts alike. Meticulous frame-off restorations can fetch more than $70,000 in today’s market. Occasionally, a truly superior specimen garners six-figure bids at auction.
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