Chevrolet Bel Air Second generation
|1955 to 1957|
|Assembly||Caracas, Venezuela Oshawa, Ontario, Canada Arlington, Texas|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door hardtop 4-door hardtop (1956–57) 4-door sedan 2-door convertible 2-door Station wagon 4-door Station wagon|
|Related||Chevrolet 210 Chevrolet 150 Chevrolet Nomad|
|Engine||215.5 cu in (3.5 L) I6 235.5 cu in (3.9 L) Blue Flame I6 265 cu in (4.3 L) V8 283 cu in (4.6 L) V8 (1957)|
|Transmission||3-speed manual 2-speed Powerglide auto. 3-speed Turboglide auto.|
Motor Trend magazine gave the Bel Air top marks for handling. Popular Mechanics reported acceleration for a V8 Bel Air with Powerglide as being 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, plus a comfortable ride, and good visibility. On the other hand, the horn ring blocked some of the speedometer, regular gasoline made the engine knock, and the first V8 engine off the line burned too much oil. Front legroom was 43.1".Brakes were 11" drums. A new option for V8-equipped 1955 models was air conditioning, with outlets on each side of the dashboard; a heavy-duty generator was included on cars equipped with this option.
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Second generation Nomad
The 1956 Bel Air received a face-lift with a more conventional full-width grille, pleasing those customers who didn't favor the Ferrari-inspired '55 front end. Distinctive two-tone bodyside treatments and graceful front and rear wheel openings completed the "speedline" restyling. Single housings incorporated the taillight, stoplight, and backup light, and the left one held the gas filler - an idea popularized on Cadillacs. Among the seven Bel Air models was a new Sport Sedan, a pillarless four-door hardtop that looked handsome with all the windows rolled down and allowed easy entry into the back seat. Production exceeded 103,000, compared to 128,000 two-door hardtops.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Second generation Sport Coupe
Shapely two-door Nomad wagons topped the price chart at $2,608, but now carried the same interior and rear-wheel sheetmetal as other Bel Airs, lacking the original's unique trim. Only 7,886 were built. The least costly Bel Air, at $2,025, was the two-door sedan. Seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and a padded dashboard were available, and full-size cars could even get the hot Corvette 225-horsepower engine. In 1956 sales material there was an optional rain-sensing automatic top, which was first seen on the first on the 1951 LaSabre concept car. However, it is believed that it was never installed on a car. Popular Mechanics reported only 7.4% of owners in their survey ordered seat belts.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Second generation 4-door Station wagon
In 1957 engine displacement grew to 283 cu in (4,640 cc) with the "Super Turbo Fire V8" option producing 283 hp (211 kW) with the help of continuous (closed loop) mechanical fuel injection. These so-called "fuelie" cars are quite rare, since most Bel Airs were fitted with carburetion. The 1957 Bel Air is among the most recognizable American cars of all time; well-maintained examples, especially Sport Coupes and Convertibles are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. They are roomy, with tastefully restrained, period use tail fins and chrome. A second automatic transmission, Turboglide, was optional. While the original two-speed Powerglide continued unchanged, Turboglide provided a continuously variable gear ratio which made "shifting" imperceptible. The shift quadrant on Turboglide cars followed a "P R N D Gr" pattern.
From 1955 to 1957, production of the two-door Nomad station wagon was assigned to the Bel Air series, although its body and trim were unique to that model. Prior to becoming a regular production model, the Nomad first appeared as a Corvette-based concept vehicle in 1954. Chevrolet has since unveiled two concept cars bearing the Nomad name, most recently in 1999. The 1955–1957 Chevrolets are commonly referred to as TriFives.
The 1955-1957s were made in right-hand drive and shipped from Oshawa, Canada, for local assembly in Australia (CKD), New Zealand (SKD), and South Africa. All three model years had a reversed version of the '55 LHD dashboard and did not get the LHD models' 1957 redesign.