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 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.
Tags: 1955 Chevy Bel Air, Chevy V-8 Engine, Turbo Fire
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