1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air was America's most popular car for 1955, which is saying something for a year in which Americans bought cars as never before. But then, the '55 Chevys were something really special.

Start with styling. In a complete change from Chevy's stodgy past, the '55s were thoroughly up-to-date with Sweep Sight wrapped windshields atop "longer-lower-wider" bodies. Even so, wheelbase was unchanged at 115 inches, and the overall design was balanced and tasteful for the day. Vying for glamour with the top-line Bel Air convertible was a nifty new two-door wagon, the Bel Air Nomad, with unique hardtop roofline.

1955 chevolet bel air
The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is a classic in every sense of the word, from
styling to engine. See more pictures of classic convertibles.

More exciting still was Chevy's first modern V-8, the 265-cubic-inch Turbo Fire that was already writing performance history. Though developed in just 15 weeks, this milestone motor was absolutely right from the start, and its 162-180 horsepower backed up Chevy's boast as 1955's "Hot One." You could still get a reliable 235.5-cid "Stovebolt Six," now with 123 bhp, but the V-8 was what most people wanted. Matching Chevy's newfound performance was an updated chassis with ball-joint front suspension, open "Hotchkiss" drive, and standard tubeless tires.

Chevy built 41,292 ragtop Bel Airs for '55, not nearly enough to go around -- then or now. As popular as they were more than 40 years ago, they enjoy even greater popularity today. And that's really saying something.

For more classic convertibles of the 1950s, see:

1950 Oldsmobile 88

1955 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Lincoln Premiere

1951 Chrysler New Yorker

1955 Mercury Montclair

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan

1956 Ford Thunderbird

1958 Continental Mark III

1951 Rambler Custom Landau

1956 Lincoln Premiere

1958 Edsel Citation

1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta

1956 Packard Caribbean

1959 Cadillac Series 62

1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1959 Dodge Custom Royal

1954 Packard Caribbean

1957 Chrysler New Yorker

1959 Ford Thunderbird

1955 Buick Century

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1959 Pontiac Bonneville

For more information on all kinds of cars, try these: