History of the 1955 Bel Air
1955 was a pivotal year for Chevrolet. Long thought of as a stodgy, sensible, steady form of transportation Chevrolet stepped up the ante with a sleek new design that was bang on the mark and soon to be a future timeless classic. Adding to this new-found desirability was a brand new small block V-8 engine that would go on to be the most popular V-8 of all time. The little “Mighty Mouse” would eventually sell over 100,000,000 copies.
The industry as a whole was on a roll with a record number of cars sold in 1955. World War II was becoming a distant memory, wages and employment were all up and there was a general sense of prosperity with the North American consumer. Demand was high for new models and new innovations and industry wide the automotive manufacturers of the day met the challenge with impressive models across the market. The race was on to meet the new-found power of the post war consumer.
Top of the Chevrolet line was the premium Bel Air model. Available in 2 door hardtop, convertible and station wagon and 4 door hardtop, sedan and station wagon, the Bel Air could be had with two 6 cylinder engines or the new 265 cu in V-8. Transmission choices were limited to a two-speed Power glide, a 3-speed manual and a 3-speed manual with overdrive. Road tests of the day had the 0-60 mph time in the 10 second range for the V-8 with automatic transmission. All new for 1955, the Bel Air incorporated many new and innovative features such as a longer chassis, wider rear springs, improved “Glide Ride”, new ball joint geometry and a new Sweep Sight single curved windshield. There were fourteen different color choices that could be had on their own or combined in a variety of two tone colours. The option list included things such as an electric shaver, compass, heater and defroster, tissue dispenser, spotlight, traffic light viewer, oil filter and a windshield washer. Today many of these options are now standard equipment or no longer offered.