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1955 Chevy Bel Air

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Model from Revell/Monogram Kit # 25-4295 Built on 2-11-2011        1/25 scale

   The Chevrolet Bel Air is an automobile series produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors from 195375. From 195052, hardtops in Chevrolet's premium Deluxe model range were designated with the Bel Air name, but it was not a distinct series of its own. The Bel Air continued in production in Canada through the 1981 model year.

   In 1953 Chevrolet renamed its series and the Bel Air name was applied to the premium model range. Two lower series, the 150 and 210, also emerged.

   The 1953 Chevrolet was advertised as "Entirely New Through and Through," due to the restyled body panels, front and rear ends. However, essentially these Chevys had the same frame and mechanicals as the 1949-52 cars. The Bel Air series featured a wide chrome strip of molding from the rear fender bulge, to the rear bumper. The inside of this stripe was painted a coordinating color with the outside body color, and "Bel Air" scripts were added inside the strip. Lesser models had no model designation anywhere on the car, only having a Chevy crest on the hood and trunk. Bel Air interiors for 1953 had a massive expanse of chrome across the lower part of the dashboard, along with a de luxe Bel Air steering wheel with full chrome horn ring. Carpeting and full wheel covers rounded out Bel Air standard equipment. For '54, the Bel Air stayed essentially the same, except for a revised grille and taillights. During these years, there were two engine choices, depending on the transmission ordered. Both engines were "Blue Flame" inline six cylinder OHV engines. featuring hydraulic valve lifters and aluminum pistons. The 115 hp (86 kW) engine was standard on stickshift models, with solid lifters and splash plus pressure lubrication. Powerglide cars got a 125 hp (93 kW) version which had hydraulic lifters and full pressure lubrication. '54 cars with stick shift got the 1953 Powerglide engine. During 1953-54, Bel Airs could be ordered in convertible, hardtop coupe, 2- and 4-door sedans, and, for 1954, the Beauville station wagon which featured woodgrain trim around the side windows. Power steering was optional for 1953; 1954 added power brakes, power seat positioner and power front windows.

   In 1955, Chevrolets gained a V8 engine option. The new 265 cubic-inch V8 featured a modern, overhead valve high-compression, short stroke design that was so good that it remained in production in various forms, for many decades. The base V8 had a two-barrel carburetor and was rated at 162 horsepower (121 kW), and the "Power Pack" option featured a four-barrel carburetor and other upgrades, yielding 180 brake horsepower (130 kW). Later in the year, a "Super Power Pack" option added high compression and a further 15 brake horsepower (11 kW). Most enthusiasts today associate the Bel Air and the V8 together, even though neither was dependent on the other. That year, Chevrolet's full-size model received new styling that earned it the "Hot One" designation by enthusiasts. Unlike Ford and Plymouth, Chevrolet's styling was considered crisp and clean. Bel Airs came with features found on cars in the lower models ranges plus interior carpet, chrome headliner bands on hardtops, chrome spears on front fenders, chrome window moldings, and full wheel covers. Models were further distinguished by the Bel Air name script in gold lettering.

   Engine displacement grew to 283 cubic inches (4,638 cc) in 1957, with the "Super Turbo Fire V8" option producing 283 horsepower (211 kW) with the help of continuous fuel injection. These so-called "fuelie" cars are quite rare, since most Bel Airs were fitted with carburetion.

   The '55, '56, and especially '57 Bel Airs are among the most recognizable American cars of all time; well-maintained examples (especially Sport Coupes and convertibles) are highly sought after by enthusiasts. Roomy, fuel-efficient, and with tastefully restrained use of tail fins and chrome, they are seen by many as vastly superior to the oversized and overdecorated full-size models that would roll out of Detroit for the next 20 years. The '55, '56, and '57 Chevrolets are commonly referred to as TriFives.

   From 195557, 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. 1956 saw the introduction of the pillarless four-door model, called Sport Sedan and available in both Bel Air and Two-Ten models.

 

 

 

 

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