My family had Chevrolets when I grew up so it’s no wonder my first car was a 1948 Chevy which got me around when I was in high school. After graduation from high school I immediately joined the Army. When it looked like I would be stateside for a while I came home from Texas and purchased a 1955 Chevy, black with blue interior. I drove the car of my dreams to Texas and was no sooner situated when I got orders to go overseas. So I drove that car back home to Fleetwood and flew to California where I boarded a troop transport ship to South Korea.
Fast forward to 1997 and my father, Robert, had a 1955 Chevrolet BelAir which he had purchased used and had taken on many car tours for the Ontelaunee, Hershey and Penn Dutch Regions. It
was in 1997 that my father’s health started to deteriorate and he listed some of his vehicles for sale. I decided to purchase the 1955 Chevy BelAir from him.
It is a 4-door sedan with two tone paint, coral and gray, and white wall tires. It was the first successful Chevrolet with an optional V8 engine. Chevy’s new 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 was
designed to be smaller, lighter and more powerful than previous V8s and is known as the “Chevy small block”. In 1955 Chevrolet drastically changed its body design with the full shoebox look. The 1955 also had wrap-around glass on the windshield and triangular tail lights that jutted outward.
The Chevrolets manufactured in 1955, 1956, and 1957 became referred to as the “Tri-Fives.” The 1955 Chevrolet changed from a 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system. Nineteen different two-tone
color combinations were available or one solid color. A standard column-mounted three speed synchro-mesh transmission was available with or without overdrive or the fully automatic two-speed Powerglide transmission. Mine is automatic.
When the car was restored I had the original engine rebuilt. I also kept the original color scheme. When my father purchased the car there were sanders in the trunk of the car. Sanders were remotely activated from a switch on the steering wheel column to drop sand in front of the rear wheels during icy road conditions. I assume the car was originally from one of the northern states. The sanders were not a dealer option but could be purchased and installed later. They were so unique I decided to leave them in the car.
The restoration was completed the day before the AACA meet at Gettysburg in spring 2018 where it won a First Junior. The car won a Senior award at Hershey that fall. I am working towards
earning a senior award at the National Chevy Club show. Accompanying this article are pictures of the car during restoration and as restored.
~ Lester Manwiller