When the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air arrived, Chevrolet enjoyed an all-new image practically overnight
Rather than a car driven mainly by dads and aunts, the sensationally redesigned “Motoramic” models quickly gained a reputation as “The Hot Ones.” In this landmark year, Chevy finally had a bold response to Ford in the performance battle: a lively 265 cubic inch V-8 that would nurture a whole generation of muscular engines. Better yet, that V-8 was slipped into a fresh, contemporary body sporting a rakish beltline dip and a Ferrari-inspired grille. Chief engineer Edward N. Cole earned credit for Chevrolet’s first V-8 in 35 years. Simple in construction and economical to build, the 265 cubic inch Turbo-Fire was a model of efficiency.
For consignment, the first year of the Tri-Five craze coming to life in our South Hall of the Classic Auto Mall. Undergoing a motor change to a 350ci Chevrolet mill, a snazzy vinyl interior, and a shiny 2 tone exterior, this model is quickly becoming the “it” car of the tri fives, and giving the 57 a run for its money.
Starting up front with its simple egg crate grille with shiny mirror like bumper on bottom, and single chrome bezel headlight on either side with an oval turn signal below, the beginnings remain simple on the embellishment front. A hot modern Torch Red covers the car’s front uppers and lowers. As we scan to the back of the car a trim spear delineates the red from Pearl White paint that covers the trunk lid and rear quarters as well as the back of the car. This paint is very deep and is from PPG, and one can become mesmerized with its quality. A chrome trim spear mid section of the front quarter runs rearward through the door, where it comes to an abrupt halt. With its starting point on the total surround of the passenger compartment, a chrome trim piece works its way past the door sills, then heads downward towards the mid rear quarter, where it is met with another mid spear which takes us to the back of the car. This spear combo is the delineation between the upper and lower panels and lines of this beautiful design. A side view will give you a hint of the design that created the craze with these car’s introductions, showing curved front glass and all surrounded by chrome trimmings. On back, are simple lamplighter style tail lights, a large cloisonn badge, and another beautiful bumper with dual pipes hedging a look out of the bottom of this beautiful creation. Even the fuel filler door is trimmed. On all corners are factory shiny wheel coverings are wrapped by G78-15’s in wide whitewall form. The convertible top is in white, and shows slight smudging but is in overall excellent condition.
Moving inside starting with the door panels, and let’s just say the hits just keep on coming!! Using white vinyl for the uppers, and red ribbed vinyl for the lowers, we can see the original factory pattern replicated in these doors. The armrest has been molded into the design and shiny cranks pepper these doors. Slipping on to the 50’s styled bench which has a split back it has vinyl covering all around, some tuck and roll for the inserts and these are stitched with white thread. Nice wide piping showing the various panels of these seats which are in the white and red color way. A rear bench presenting in the same fashion is in back and there is plenty of romper room back there. Fronting this is a dual fan dash, (my personal fav of the tri fives BTW!), with the gauge cluster on the drivers side, and badged speaker and round clock below on the passengers side. This dash has been completely restored to original and uses red PPG sprayed metal with a nifty shiny band of punched pattern bow tie logos running through the center. More deep red below and shiny knobs, ignition and temp sliders are seen here. Below is a low pile, clean red carpet which is pristine, and it is flooding all the floors. Below the dash facing the driver are a trio of aftermarket gauges to help keep your eyes on this car’s pulse. Also a big shout out to the trunk, which is not to be outdone by the customized interior, it sports black rubber covering straight as arrows panels, and an original wheel wrapped by the spare tire. Fender skirts are there for the eventual installation to make this car appear low and slow!
Within the restored engine bay is a new Chevrolet 350ci V8 mill. It has shiny valve coverings, an orange/red block ,and clean Weiand cast intake manifold feeding fossils and air through an Edelbrock 4 barrel carburetor. All surfaces have been restored, and are simply eye catching. In fact its hard to look away! Pristine bolt on parts abound under this hood, headers, and all is looking quite like new in the showroom finishes. On back is a 3 speed TH350 automatic transmission which throws power back to a 3.36 rear axle.
Let’s stick to the theme of stunner underneath, with no rust solid frame, body hangers, and floorpans. Throw in some pristine dual exhaust, a new fuel tank, and a drip free bottom end of the engine, and we are in show car heaven. Independent coil springs and leaf springs make up the front and rear suspension, and all new drum brakes are on all 4 corners. A like new Flowmaster exhaust is also seen meandering its way from the mill to the back of the car, passing pristine black framing and torch red stamped floorpans, indicating this restoration was a frame off effort.
A turn of the keyed ignition and all 8 are fired up and ready for the test track. This car is a screamer with plenty of power, good braking, excellent handling, and a smooth cruise. I’m ready for my drive in experience. Throw 6 people in the trunk and lets get through the gate and pop open the case of beer we brought too. I found the horn did not work, the heater blower is not working, and the speedometer and odometer are not reading.
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Location: Morgantown, Pennsylvania, United States