Category: 1956

Chevy’s 1955-1957 passenger cars remain the aspirational American ideal of a better future now – Jeff Koch @Hemmings

Chevy’s 1955-1957 passenger cars remain the aspirational American ideal of a better future now – Jeff Koch @Hemmings


The idea of a truly all-new car is tempting fate. Each system, each individual component requires so much effort to work properly in concert with a thousand other components, in myriad conditions, that body/chassis and drivelines often see their launches staggered. A newly styled car, or one with an all-new chassis, often starts life with a carryover powertrain; a new engine may show up in an existing chassis years into a model’s gestation. Doing it all at once is an expensive gamble.

All-new for the fall of 1954, Chevrolet’s full-size line was lower, cleaner, lighter, and more powerful than the previous year’s Chevrolet. While the Chevy bowtie appears prominently on the hood and hubcaps, the Chevrolet name doesn’t appear on the exterior of the car.

That said, if anyone could launch an all-new car, it was Chevrolet. Its status as America’s best-selling car brand for the bulk of the postwar era brought success and swagger. For 1955, Chevy needed a new car to keep up with the competition’s advances—and the division’s engineers and stylists delivered; Chevy’s V-8-powered 1955 sedan lineup really was as new as it got in Detroit in the ’50s. Comparing the 1954 and ’55 Chevy lines, virtually the only things that remained were the conventional front-engine/rear-drive layout, names (150, 210, Bel Air, et al), the chassis’ 115-inch wheelbase, and the wheel-and-tire combo. All-new body, all-new chassis, all-new V-8 engine, and new optional overdrive behind the (admittedly extant) three-speed manual transmission. You’d scarcely believe a ’54 and a ’55 Bel Air were built a model year apart.

Visuals first. Chevy’s new body was actually an inch narrower than the ’54’s—but because the ’55 convertible was 2½ inches lower (and wagons 5-plus inches lower!), the new car looked wider. Yet headroom was comparable, despite the lower roofline. A wrap-around “Sweep-Sight” windshield arrived, as did 18 percent more glass area for better visibility across the lower fenders. Crisp, almost formal lines made for a cleaner profile, with a minimum of filigree: just an elegant spear on 150 and Bel Air models, all the better to outline the optional two-tone paint offerings. The 1954’s ornate grille was exchanged for a tight egg-crate pattern. Fender tops hooded the headlamps; this, the side trim and the rakish rooflines combined to make the Chevy appear to strain against its leash and demand to run at full speed

Yes, the ancient 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame Six remained—available with manual transmission and 123 horsepower, or 136 ponies with Powerglide. But Chevy’s clean-sheet V-8 was the big news. Engineered by future GM president Ed Cole, Corvette-world legend Zora Arkus-Duntov, and a handpicked group of engineers, it was a wonder of high-tech simplicity. It featured a strong thin-wall block, using up-to-date casting techniques; an over-square bore/stroke that allowed it to rev; five main bearings; forged steel crankshaft; individual stamped-steel rocker arms; interchangeable heads; and self-lubricating hydraulic lifters. Chevy’s V-8 started off modest—162 horsepower for a standard two-barrel 265 with 8:1 compression, although the optional Power Pack (with four-barrel carb and dual exhaust) was rated at 180 horses; the rare Corvette-sourced 195-hp Super Power Pack added the famous Duntov cam and higher-compression pistons. Each V-8 block was painted a vivid shade of orange, so that no one could miss it when the hood was raised.

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This 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria Coupe Still Features the Original Invoice – Mircea Panait @AutoEvolution


Not to be confused with the Fairlane line of vehicles for the Australian market, the full-size car for North America replaced the Crestline series in 1955. The Victoria hardtop coupe in the gallery is one of the best-preserved examples from the first generation of the Fairlane, and believe it or not, this blast from the past still features the original invoice.

RK Motors Charlotte, the selling vendor, describes chassis number M6DV222852 as “fully documented” because the dealer invoice is complemented by the original service policy, owner’s manual, a stack of service records, detailed ownership history, and the Continental kit.

Following a comprehensive restoration of the exterior and interior, the 1956 model currently wears Peacock Blue and Colonial White paintwork over Peacock Blue and Colonial White vinyl for the dashboard, seats, door cards, and even the steering wheel rim. 15-inch wire wheels are joined by whitewall tires and the factory fender skirts, and the engine bay is cleaner than you’d expect – although the exhaust manifold exhibits some corrosion.

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Video: Creating the 1956 Chevrolet – @MacsMotorCityGarage


Chevrolet was proud of its 1956 lineup, and rightly so. See the confidence on display in this 1956 color film.

This beautifully produced clip is actually an excerpt  from a much longer 1956 General Motors film entitled American Engineer, and as such, it provides a 10,000-ft. look at the engineering and design work that created the ’56 Chevrolet line. There’s very little n the way of granular technical detail here. This is more of a cinematic think piece on the corporation’s philosophy of engineering—as seen, perhaps, through the eyes of the automaker’s public relations department.

The production is busting its buttons with mid-century American pride and confidence, and rightly so, we think. At the time, General Motors was far and away the world’s largest automaker, as well as one of the greatest industrial enterprises in history.  And the Chevrolet division was its flagship, with sales that often exceeded the rest of the GM brands combined. While ’56 was not a record year for the bow-tie

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Buying a 1955-57 Ford Thunderbird? Here’s what you need to know – Benjamin Hunting @Hagerty


Sometimes the best ideas don’t come from inside a company but rather spring forth as a reaction to external forces. When Chevrolet brought its two-seat Corvette to the New York Auto Show in 1953, it couldn’t have known that it was about to inspire Ford to punch back with one of the most storied nameplates in the Blue Oval’s history: the Thunderbird.

Read the buyers guide here

Photos from Wikipedia

Missing for 50 Years: 1956 Bangert Manta Ray


Noel Bangert launched his first car to the public in 1954. Called the ‘Stag’, it was modeled after Indianapolis race cars and was raced on the West Coast by famous drivers such as Bill Pollack at Willow Springs and other tracks.

Spurred on by success, Noel brought out his second car in 1955 called the Manta Ray aimed at both the sports and race car market. His second car met with great acclaim with production reaching 20 to 30 cars and bodies. Magazines featured his sports cars and racing versions appeared on the West Coast. It even appeared at the 1955 Petersen (Hot Rod, Motor Trend Magazines) Motorama.

This Manta Ray was purchased as a body by Elwood Cauffman of Whittier, CA, who built a custom tubular frame and installed a rebuilt high performance V8 engine. This is one of four known Bangert Manta Ray sports cars that exist today (Source

This exact car is now for sale here on eBay, where bidding is over $33K and the reserve remains unmet.
Read more here at Barn Finds

After the Flathead the Ford Y-Block V8 Engine


The Ford Y Block V8


The venerable hot rodders favourite Ford Flathead V8 reached the end of it’s life, (at least in the States :)), in 1953 and it was followed up by the introduction of the Y Block OHV V8 in 1954.

The Y Blocks came in 239, 256 cubic inch variants for 1954, for 1955 272 and 292 cubic inch units were added.

In 1956 the 312 cubic inch motor was added to the range, this engine family ran until 1964 when it was replaced by the Windsor and Cleveland V8’s

For a really good detailed look at the Y Block V8 and where it was utilised you can read here at the website.


The Auto Roller Coaster By Gary Swilik


History of the West Park Neighborhood
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Believe it or not in Ohio between 1928 to  1956 you could drive your car on a roller coaster!

Article by Gary Swilik

Auto Roller Coaster

From the moment people discovered it was fun to ride down hills in anything on wheels the development of the roller coaster was probably inevitable. The first real roller coaster, with cars locked onto a track, was built in Paris in 1817. By the 1920s no amusement park was complete without an impressive roller coaster. Many remember that West Park had their own world-class coaster –  The Cyclone – which ran at Puritas Springs Park from 1928 to 1956. Far fewer know there was once a roller coaster for automobiles near Cleveland Airport.

Auto Roller Coaster

Yes, a roller coaster for cars. People paid a fee to drive their automobile over a series of eleven hills on a U-shaped elevated roadway constructed of wood. The peak of each hill was nine feet high and the distance from crest to crest was 112 feet. For about a dime riders could experience the thrills and chills of a roller coaster without leaving their own car. Read the rest of Gary’s article here