Story of the Week

Posted: 04.17.2014
1955: A Great Year for Chevrolet
By: Robert Tate - Automotive Historian/ Researcher
Images: Courtesy of The National Automotive History Collection

 

 

1955 was a great year for Chevrolet. During that model year Chevrolet was the number one vehicle in automotive sales. The base price for Chevrolet vehicles ranged from anywhere between $1,593 and $2,799. The 1955 Chevrolet models were introduced to the public in October of 1954.

A complete body restyling in addition to a brand new V8 engine and many other new features made Chevrolet one of the most spectacular models for the buying consumer. One feature, the wraparound windshield, which was also introduced on other GM models in 1954, proved to be a popular feature on the ‘55 Chevrolet models as well.

 

 

1955 Chevrolet models were called the "Hot Ones" and so- deserving because of its styling features. Some of the most talked about features were its Ferrari-type of egg-crate grille design, its long narrow parking lights, and the re-styled hood emblem and ornament which added a distinction to the front end appearance. The 1955 Chevrolet models represented the most comprehensive model change in Chevrolet's history that many people thoroughly enjoy. Even to this day, 1955 Chevrolet models are popular among the younger generation. Another popular new model design for Chevrolet was the beautifully designed Bel Air Nomad station wagon introduced to the public on January 31, 1955.

 

 

In 1955, General Motors celebrated a milestone by manufacturing its 50-millionth car which was built and introduced to the public on November 23, 1954. The celebration took place in Flint, Michigan before a large crowd of General Motors and government officials. Mr. Harlow H. Curtice, who was president of General Motors, posed beside the 50-millionth car. The car was a gold-colored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe.

 

 

This commemoration stood as a golden symbol of General Motors and Chevrolet achievement it was a lasting tribute to the millions of Americans who made it possible. Mr. Harley J Earl, who was over the design department in 1955, at the time had many talented designers working for him. An example is Mr. Carl H. Renner who was a crucial force behind the styling of the 1955 Chevrolet models along with Mr. Clare MacKichan and many others. Another example was Mr. Chariles Stebbins, who was chief designer of the body development and Mr. Ed Cole who engineered the 1955 Chevrolet models. These men along with so many others helped create this automotive classic which is still very much in demand by Chevrolet enthusiasts.

 

 

Fisher Body, a division of General Motors, was developed by the Fisher Brothers and grew into the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world (also known as Body by Fisher). Fisher Body played a huge role in manufacturing General Motors products in the areas of comfort, safety and durability.

General Motors also had a great advertising campaign for Chevrolet models. At the time they called the new 1955 Chevrolet models "New Look! New Life (V8 or 6)! New Everything! The New Motoramic Chevrolet!" You could also listen to that great voice of Diana Shore singing, "See The USA In Your New Chevrolet". In conclusion, if Chevrolet ever had a great sales year this was it. Not only was a new design model for Chevrolet offered to the buying public it was considered a " modern classic" era which many people still have great fond memories today.



A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs are courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection. (Bibliography: Jr Flory Kelly J. " American Cars 1946 to 1959 Every Model Year By Year
Chappell Pat " The Hot One Chevrolet 1955-1957" Dragonwyck Publishing 1977.
General Motors- 1955 Chevrolet "Color And Trim Book" Chevrolet 1955.)

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org.

If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Desirae Tolbert at dtolbert@motorcities.org


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