1955 Chevy Bel Air Convertible / Photos, Specs, Styling Details

A beautiful 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible which represents the first year of Chevy’s popular Tri-Five automobiles. The Tri-Fives, a name given to these models years later, covered the model years, 1955, 1956 and 1957. Marketers referred to the 55 Chevys as “The Hot One“. Chevrolet dealers began displaying this totally new designed car on October 28, 1954. There were three models…the base 150, the mid-priced 210, and the deluxe Bel Air. Within these three models were sixteen body styles.

55 chevy
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

The Chevy Bel Air’s from 1955 through 1957 were designated the “second generation” Bel Air’s as opposed to the “first generation” models built from 1950 through 1954.

The 1955 Chevy Bel Air is known for great new styling, performance and quality construction. In the 1950’s, an automobile was one of the highest expressions of American status and independence. and the Detroit automakers built some terrific cars.

Totally New Styling

Styling for the 1955 Chevrolet was totally new compared to anything before it. Chevy literally changed from building little economy sedans to producing sleek automobiles that attracted a younger buyer demographic. The new 1955 Chevrolet had smooth straight panels on the sides and hood.

The 1955 examples highlighted a new grille influenced by Ferrari. The dash board had a Corvette look to it and buyers were offered a two-tone color scheme plus a new V-8 engine was made available. The chrome was minimal and the body lines gave a low profile look. The flared rear quarter panels of the 54 models was gone which gave the 55 model a sleek look.

Looking to 1956, the Chevy Bel Air had a V added to the front of the hood and the side trim ran almost the entire length of the car. In addition the grille on the 56 ran almost the full width of the car.

Targeting a Younger Market

General Motors wanted to attract younger car buyers to it’s dealer showrooms and the younger buyers wanted more horsepower.  The mid 1950’s was a time of drive-in’s and cruising and the younger generation wanted “cool cars”. A cool car at that time was the 1955 Chevy and the 1955 Ford Victoria. Both of these models were top of the line and offered modern styling along with attractive trim.

1955 bel air

The difference between the two had to do with the introduction of Chevy’s 265 cubic inch small block V-8. Two different configurations of this engine delivered impressive horsepower of 162 and 180. The Chevy small block 265 became a very popular high performance engine. To broaden the market of potential buyers who loved the new Chevy styling but weren’t necessarily interested in 0-60 MPH performance there were the automatic transmissions.

1955 Bel Air Features

The all new 1955 Bel Air came with several upgraded features such as stainless steel window moldings, interior carpet, redesigned instrument cluster, and front grille which was inspired by Ferrari.

1955 Chevy Bel Air Specifications

Engines offered with the 1955 Chevy Bel Air included a 235 cubic inch inline six with configurations for 123 and 136 HP along with the 265 cubic inch small block V-8 with configurations for 162 and 180 HP.

Brakes are four wheel hydraulic drums.

Front suspension were coil springs with rear semi elliptic leaf springs.

Dimensions include a 115.0 inch wheelbase, 195.6 inch overall length, 73.0 inch width, 60.5 inch height. Curb weight estimated at 3,330 lbs.

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible production totaled 41,292 units. This model was priced at $2,300.

The first year of the Tri Five Chevy’s was a huge success. Chevrolet production that year totaled nearly 1.8 million vehicles. According to the book “American Cars of the 1950s” by Robert Genat and David Newhardt, Chevrolet’s accounted for 44% of the low-price passenger cars purchased that year and 24% of all new cars sold that year. The biggest seller for Chevrolet in 1955 was the four door Bel Air Sedan at 366,000 units.

The 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevys sold in the millions and became the holy Tri-Five, sometimes referred to as Shoebox Chevys (because of their boxy profile).

Related Auto Museum Online articles include..

1956 Chevy Bel Air Convertible

1955 Ford Fairlane Victoria

Reference material for this article includes..Complete Book of Collectible Cars by the Editors of Consumer Guide..The Hot One, Chevrolet 1955-1957 by Pat Chappell..Chevy Classics : 1955, 1956,1957 by Anthony Young..Tri-Five Chevy Handbook by Jim Richardson.

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Collector Car

The 1955 Chevy’s remain very popular collector cars. While the 1957 Chevy Bel Air is one of the popular collector models, many believe the 1955 Chevy, the first year model with the new modern design ranks just as high or higher with some mentioning the milestone status of the 55’s with their new 265 cubic inch V-8. The 1955 Chevrolets overall received very high marks from the public, and sales were excellent that year.

1955 Chevy Bel air

Current asking prices for the 1955 Chevy Bel Air in very good to excellent condition. can range from $60,000 to $130,000. The convertible Bel Airs can range from about $85,000 to $140,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)