Classic 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air / Specs, Photos, Model History

The Car of the Year for 1955

The 1955 Chevrolet was a milestone car and represented a major move forward for the Chevrolet Division of General Motors. The automobile featured in this article is a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. This model which was new from the ground up was named car of the year for 1955. Marketed as the "Hot One" to appeal to America's youth, the 1955 Chevy was an instant success.

1955 chevy bel air specs

1955 Chevy Bel Air

It was in 1955 that the Chevy Bel Air was equipped with a V8 engine, and won the reputation of “The Hot One” among car enthusiasts. The style of the 1955 Chevy Bel Air  is what makes it one of the most sought after classic cars  today. The design of the 1955 Chevy was considered by many to be far superior to any Ford or Plymouth produced at the time.

For 1955, buyers had the option for a new and smaller 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 Turbo Fire if they wanted something more than the 236 Cubic Inch Six, Chevrolet built a 150, 210 and Bel Air model.

The history of Bel Air started in 1953 when he became the new name for the high-end line of Chevrolet cars. It is in these first models appeared the unique characteristics of the car body.

The 1955 Chevy Bel Air

Collector cars from the 1950's are thought to be the most coveted by many classic car enthusiasts. Many cars from that decade remain popular with collectors fifty years later. Among the top of that list is certainly the 1955 Chevy Bel Air, one of the most iconic cars of the era. Some would say that the 1955 Chevrolet is THE car of the 50's.

chevrolet bel air specificationsWhen the 1955 Chevy was introduced, certain auto people were fixing up cars from a generation ago, such as the Model T, as a hot rod or track car. To compete with these improved retro cars, the major car companies had to come up with equally impressive automobiles. Thus, the 1955 Chevy was born.

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is today an iconic vehicle many times referred to simply as the '55 Chevy. This 55 Chevy remains a sought after Chevrolet model for car collectors.

The 1955 Bel Air was not the first model year of the Bel Air. Interestingly enough, Often, it in many cases the first model year of a new vehicle ends up being remembered the most. In the case of the Chevrolet Bel Air things were different. The Bel Air was first produced by Chevrolet in 1950 however the 50 Bel Air was not the hit that the 55 ended up to be and therefore doesn't have nearly the the collector demand the latter model has.

Chevrolet's 50's Tail Fins

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air represents the first model year of a redesigned second generation. It introduced many features that would become popular in cars from the 1950's. One of the things that the 1955 Chevy Bel Air did was add tail fins to the Chevy line. These fins were not nearly as large as fins would eventually get. The model years afterward would see car fins become much larger. The stylish tail fins of the 1957 Chevrolet make it a real competitor for the top spot with the 55 model.

The Bel Air design was so strong and popular that the line itself would sell in the United States until 1975. Much of the Bel Air's appeal throughout the years had it's roots going straight back to those second generation Chevy's.

1955 Chevy Bel Air Specifications

Available engines on the 1955 Chevy were a 235 cubic inch Inline Six and two V-8's, one with a double barrel carburetor and one with a four barrel. The Bel Air model came only with a V-8. Horsepower in that order was 123, 162, 180.

1955 chevy bel air dashboard

55 Chevy Bel Air dashboard

Transmissions available were a three speed manual and a Pwerglide automatic.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Dimensions included a 115.9 inch wheelbase, an overall outside length of 195.6 inches and a weight of about 3,300 lbs.

New car price range for the 1955 Chevy Bel Air (excluding wagons) was $1,950 to $2,300.

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The 1955 Chevrolet Collector Car Popularity and Values

Nostalgia is one big reason that the second generation Chevrolet Bel Air's are some of the most popular with collectors. Many of these owners are people who grew up during the 1950's.  Some will also tell you that they believe that automobiles in general were made better during that era. Many old cars, including the 1955 Chevy, were bigger and had bigger engines. This is a big plus for collectors.

55 chevy bel air

The 55 Chevy's small rear fin

As far as design goes, most automobiles produced during the 1950's have very distinctive. styling. Today, many automobile models look visually the same as their competitors. In many cases today styling takes a back seat to fuel economy. The decade of the 50's, before safety regulations and emission controls were mandated, was an era of very creative design innovation by some top stylists, such as Harley Earl and Virgil Exner to name just a few, and as a result most people can identify a 1950's brand automobile by simply looking at the car from a distance.

As of this writing, top valuations for the 1955 Chevy Bel Air ranges from about $25,000 to $95,000. This is for a professionally restored model. The much higher valued Bel Air would typically be the two door convertible.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)