Do you see the picture of the beautiful 1955 Chevy Bel Air Sport Coupes in light yellow and white? This car is a true classic.
The author of Articles Smashhits.com and the author of 55 Classic Chevy.com share the fascinating history of the “The Hot One,” the 1955 Classic Chevrolet.
In 1942, the year that the United States joined the fight during World War II, automobile production virtually halted. Instead, the manufacturers concentrated their efforts in making airplanes, trucks, tanks, and whatever else would be needed for the war effort. One of the authors state that it wasn’t until the 1950s that the three biggest auto makers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler began to “reinvent the automobile.” The Chevrolet cars produced from 1949 to 1954 were rather dull but dependable. It was not until 1955 that a low-price dream car was born. As the author states, with the introduction of The Hot One, “a national love affair was about to begin.”
Chevrolet gave their chief engineer, Edward Nicholas Cole, the golden opportunity to “design us a car from scratch.” Being creative to my very core, I can well imagine the excitement he must have felt to be given free reign to help Chevrolet to shed its old image and replace it with a style that came to be called “Motoramic.”
He designed a new frame, new body types, 3 new engines, new front suspension, new rear springs, and new brakes. Chevrolet plugged his new designs with slogans like “Don’t argue with this baby!” and “Blue ribbon beauty that’s stealing the thunder from the high-priced cars!”
When Chevrolet introduced the 1955 Chevy in late 1954, it changed their history. The car became an instant success with its new look of being longer, lower, and wider, three buzz words touted by General Motors.
The Motoramic 1955 Chevy included three basic models: the Bel Air, the Two-Ten, and the One-Fifty and 16 new body styles. The Bel Air Sport Coupe, pictured above, was the most popular. People really liked the two-toned look. Notice that the roof, rear deck and upper fenders are painted one color and the body side color is painted another color with “chrome strip moldings” separating the two colors. People could choose between 14 solid color options and 21 new two-tone combinations.
People could also choose what kind of horsepower they would get. For the first time in 35 years, Chevrolet offered a V-8 engine. It was named Turbo-Fire V-8 which delivered 162 horsepower. People could also get the more reliable six-cylinder car that delivered 123 horsepower. 1955 was a year full of options and choices. As you can well imagine, huge numbers of people began turning to the 1955 Chevrolets to meet their transportation needs.
A grand total of 1,704,667 1955 Chevy’s were produced, setting a production record in 1955. One of the authors shares an interesting bit of trivia. On the 23rd day of November in 1954, the 50 millionth automobile produced by General Motors in the USA “rolled off a Chevrolet assembly line in Flint, Michigan.” This car was a 1955 Chevy Bel Air 2-door Sport Coupe in gold.
Not only were people lining up to buy a ’55 Chevy, it became a very popular car to be used in movies and television shows.
The author of 55 Classic.com includes his list of the movies and television shows highlighting a ’55 Chevy Bel Air. Visit his website should you wish to see the screen shots from these movies. In alphabetical order, his list includes:
Back to the Future (1985): It was a 1953 Chevy Bel Air that hit Marty McFly in Back to The Future. A 55 Chevy Bel Air can be seen driving in background in Back the Future.
Nice Dreams (1981): Tommy Chong drives a 55 Chevy Bel Air in this “iconic Cheech and Chong film.”
Perry Mason (1957-1966) TV Series: A 55 Chevy Bel Air is being driven in this TV series.
Pimp My Ride (2006) TV Series:In one episode of Pimp My Ride, a girl gets her beat-up 1955 Chevy Bel Air totally overhauled.
Riding in Cars with Boys (2001): A 55 Chevy Bel Air was used in thise film.
Sin City (2005): A 1955 Chevy Bel Air outfitted as a patrol car was used in Sin City.
The Sandlot (1993): A 55 Chevy Bel Air Convertible is parked outside of a drug store in this classic movie.
The Wild Ride (1960): In the Wild One, a rebellious boy races a 1955 Chevy Bel Air as an amateur dirt track driver.
Daniel Thornton on Car Magazine.co.uk discusses the 1971 car movie called Two Lane Blacktop starring James Taylor, Warren Oates, and Harry Dean Stanton. Two car-crazy men drive across the USA as Driver and Mechanic. They pick up a girl on the way. Then they find themselves in a drag race with an older TV producer.
Daniel liked their driving philosophy of ‘You can never go fast enough’.
Perhaps the main stars of this production are the three 1955 Chevrolets built especially for this movie by Richard Ruth. Daniel indicated that two of these three 1955 Chevy’s were re-used in American Graffiti, driven by Harrison Ford. The other car featured in the movie called Two-Lane Blacktop was a 1970 Pontiac GTO 455.
Hot Rod.com shares his list of the 40 greatest car movies of all times. I checked his selections to see if any of those movies included a ’55 Chevy. Second on his list is that 1971 Monte Hellman film called Two-Lane Blacktop. He shares a bit of interesting trivia that Richard Ruth, the man who built the ’55 Chevy, is the guy in the Glendale Speed Center tee-shirt at the first gas station they stop at. He also points out that the ’55 Chevy was used again in American Graffiti; only this time, it was painted black. First on his list is George Lucas’s film called American Graffiti starring Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Charles Martin Smith, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Candy Clark, and Paul LeMat. In that movie, the three main cars featured are the ’32 Ford five-window, a ’58 Chevy, and, of course, the ’55 Chevy. He describes the plot as four friends in central California face the future dusk-to-dawn one summer night in 1962 by cruising, hanging out, wreaking havoc, and street-racing.
So, where can you find a car like the one I pictured? Have you ever visited a vintage car show? Every now and then, you see them in malls and downtown streets.
On the 27th of June of 2009, my husband and I happened upon a vintage car show in downtown Greeneville, Tennessee, as we headed to one of our favorite breakfast spots called Tipton’s Café. We had to go the long way around and walk a few blocks as several of the roads had been blocked off for the 19th-annual Saturday Nite Out Downtown Cruise-In on West Depot Street. We passed by all kinds of beautiful cars on the way to eat. We also passed several tents set up to sell tee shirts, food, homemade ice cream, and crafts. Car enthusiasts were sitting in lawn chairs, browsing the cars, and sharing information and favorite car anecdotes. With eager anticipation, we reserved the treat of getting a closer look at our favorite cars after the meal.
The vintage car show was scheduled for 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.; therefore, we didn’t get to see all the cars that would be shown. As we walked, the occasional vintage car came rolling by to delight the senses. The show was hosted by Main Street, the Greeneville Auto Club, and the Volunteer State Auto Club.
Of all the cars on display, which type cars would you most like to see? Which cars would you most like to own? What are your favorites? Please feel free to share your preferences in the comment box below. Check out my slide show on Associated Content to see photos of the cars that my husband and I liked the best.
Among the over 300 cars spotlighted, we saw this beautiful two-toned 1955 Chevy Bel Air Sport Coupe that I mentioned above. I hope you enjoy the picture and my slide show.
Also, check out my video footage showing off different views of this car in much greater detail. When you get a chance,
visit a car show of your own to enjoy the rock and roll music, the food, the camaraderie, and the car feast for the eyes.
Watch the ten short screen ads on YouTube advertising the 1955 Motoramic Chevrolet called 1955 Chevrolet Commercials (1955): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Vz4ZrDLms
Watch the YouTube trailer called Two-Lane Blacktop at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKcIGPQST9s