The 1955 Chevrolet is arguably the most recognizable car ever made. To start with, it has been featured in hundreds of Hollywood films. Want a good example? It was in George Luca’s movie American Graffiti that Harrison Ford made his screen debut driving a black 1955 Chevy. This was the hot rod that challenged John Milner (Paul Lemat) in his yellow 1932 Ford 5 window coupe.
One of the reasons for the remarkable popularity of the 1955 Chevy was that General Motors sold a large number of that model year. It was due to a new body redesign and a wonderful new V8 engine. Let’s consider the body redesign, first. Although Ford had already gone to a “shoe box” body design (no external fenders) in 1949, Chevy was gradually doing the same through the early 1950s. In 1955, Chevy bit the bullet and caught up with Ford by leaping to a true shoebox look. It had smooth straight panels on the sides and hood, wrap-around glass on the windshield, and triangular tail lights that jutted outward. It was a looker.
The next characteristic that was a huge hit was the optional V8 engine. Chevrolet had produced an earlier car with a V8 in 1918 but it remained in production for only a year. The new 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 for 1955 was a brand new design and it was a major hit. It was designed to be smaller, lighter, and more powerful than any other V8s in the auto industry at the time.
The 1955 model year was also a year of other firsts for Chevrolet. This included changing from a 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system and the introduction of many new options like air conditioning, power windows, power seats, power steering and power brakes. Never before had so many options been offered for a car in the low-price field.
The 55’s top trim offering was the Bel-Air, which had more chrome and trim than the 150 or 210 models. The Bel-Air and 210 could be bought with a post between the front and rear passenger windows, or without a post. Today, the non-post version is far more popular with collectors. The Bel-Air was also available in a convertible, with the same shorter roof and longer rear deck as the sport coupe.
Chevrolet retained the same similar body style and chassis for the 1955, 56, and 57 model years. Today, these years are extremely sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, and are often referred to by the given nickname of “tri-fives.” All three years are highly sought after but the 1955 remains the original and most popular of the series.
Source: McLoughlin Chevrolet