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.
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.
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