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1955 Chevy Bel Air Engine History

Written by admin on July 15, 2009 – 12:22 am -

To read the previous post in the 55 Chevy Bel Air history series, click here.

When Cole set up shop as Chevy’s new division chief engineer in 1952, he already had the type of engine in mind that he would place in the 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to revitalize the Bel Air series with a V-8 engine that would provide the high performance he was looking for. Cole hoped this would help shed Chevy’s image of only making trustworthy, tepid cars.

Initially, a 230-cubic inch V-8 version based on the overhead valve design of the 1949 Cadillac was selected, but Cole later dropped this design for being too expensive for Chevy’s budget at the time. With the help of his friend Barr though, who was the new assistant cheif engineer at Chevrolet, he crafted an engine of such high caliber that it still exists today.

The 1955 Bel Air was built around lighter components, and the engine also reflected the “whole concept” of the car. The Pushrods for example, were hollow and the valve guides were integrated with the cylinder heads. The cylinder heads were made of die-cast metal and were completely interchangeable.

1955 Chevy Bel Air V8 Engine

1955 Chevy Bel Air Engine Facts:

  • Referred to as “Turbo Fire” V-8 Engine
  • Produced 162 horsepower with the one barrel carburetor and a single exhaust
  • Produced 180 horsepower with the two barrel carb and dual exhaust
  • Short connecting rods and pressed in pistons meant that the rod did not need to be slitted, nor did it require a locking bolt
  • Independent rocker arm design
  • Three ring “autothermic” aluminum pistons
  • Routing of exhaust manifolds was near the top of heads
  • Fully water-jacketed ports which helped improve heat dissipation around valve seats
  • Eliminated costly oil feeder lines

Although this was only the second V-8 Engine produced by Chevy at the time, it was truly a revolution in design and manufacturing.

Click here to watch a video of my 1955’s V-8 engine revving up.


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Posted in 1955 Chevy Bel Air | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “1955 Chevy Bel Air Engine History”

  1. By JR Caldwell on Aug 4, 2009 | Reply

    Have lost the title to and the vin plates have rusted off my 55 Chevy Belair. I intend to restore it to it’s former glory and I want to tag it. I have been told something about a hidden vin number. I can’t find it. Where do I look.

    JR

  2. By admin on Aug 5, 2009 | Reply

    The factory VIN plate will be riveted to the inside driver-side windshield frame, there is also a body/style/paint plate riveted to the engine crowning above the battery on the passenger side of the car. I know of no other ID tags. It would be best to contact your local DOT agency and check the procedure for getting a new title and registration identification.

  3. By Keith on Aug 22, 2009 | Reply

    I just bought a 55 nomad, seems to be all matching numbers but the engine pad numbers are not normal. 0ii3i96t55f. what the heck is that number???

  4. By dilandinga on Oct 5, 2009 | Reply

    l3XYxH I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!

  5. By Edaetram on Oct 10, 2009 | Reply

    Great site. Keep doing.,

  6. By Taedia on Oct 12, 2009 | Reply

    If you have to do it, you might as well do it right.,

  7. By novascarlett on May 19, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t seem to track the history on a restored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by someone close to me. I have the VIN number VC55J164579. He bought it from someone in Illinois last year, so I have contacted the DMV there. I would welcome any other ideas!

  8. By Bruce on May 19, 2010 | Reply

    I just bought a 55 nomad, seems to be all matching numbers but the engine pad numbers are not normal. 0ii3i96t55f. what the heck is that number???

  9. By Keith on Jul 3, 2010 | Reply

    I just bought a 55 nomad, seems to be all matching numbers but the engine pad numbers are not normal. 0ii3i96t55f. can anyone figure out if its original or what the numbers mean???

  10. By Eric on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    I just bought a 1955 Bel Air with a 265 cu. in. V8 and a cast iron Powerglide transmission. I’ve heard they are more valuable if the “numbers match”. What numbers am I looking for and where would they be located?

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