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Happy Birthday to the Tri-Five Chevy With a Small Block of 265 Photos

It’s not often you celebrate a birthday for three years…but the 1955, 1956, & 1957 Chevy is doing just that.

Brian Brennan May 2, 2016
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There’re a number iconic brands, models, and power equipped options that make-up the very core of the world of hot rodding. Every make has its favorites and every hot rodder has his (or hers). But there’s no mistaking that the 1955 Chevy (followed by the 1956 and 1957) are at the top of the pyramid of hot rodding. Beginning last year and running throughout this year and into 2017 the Tri-Five Chevy (as it has become affectionately known) will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. In today’s world of ever changing and lightening quick turnarounds to be celebrating something that is 60 years old is most assuredly a testament to the forward thinking that was going on at Chevrolet after the war years.

By the time the mid-‘50s rolled around there was no mistaking that Ford was in the driver seat in both design and under the hood with the potent V-8 Flathead that was powering all of these designs. However, Chevy wasn’t sitting idly by, no sir, their engineers and designers were burning the proverbial “midnight oil”. While Ford was enjoying success with its 1949-1951 “shoebox” design Chevy left them standing, to use street racing lingo, Chevy introduced the straight side panels and hood, wrap-around glass on the windshield (to be used by everybody over time), and the unmistakable and truly iconic triangular taillights. To this exciting and d fresh new design what lie under the hood was just as if not more, revolutionary. The 1955 Chevy was an immediate hit with the public, and racers alike, and this continued through the 1956 and 1957 model years.

The 1955 Chevrolet was a car of many firsts: the change from 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system and the V-8 were significant. There were also many creature comforts taken for granted today, and considered standard equipment, but back then they were options: air conditioning, power windows, power seats; power steering and power brakes, and thrown in were automatic light dimmers, door handle protectors, bumper protectors and the Wonder-Bar radio

There were nine different variations of the three models (150, 210, and Bel Air) beginning in 1955. To this there were different body, roof, two or four door, and options.

150 Series210 SeriesBel Air Series
4 dr sedan: 6-passenger, 7-window sedan with a rear trunkXXX
2 dr sedan: 6-passenger, 5-window sedan with a rear trunkXXX
Club Coupe: 6-passenger, 2-door, 5-window coupe with a rear trunk X 
Utility Sedan: 3-passenger, 5-window sedan with a rear trunkX  
Sport Coupe: 6-passenger, 2-door, 5-window pillarless hardtop coupe with rear trunk. XX
Convertible: 5-passenger, 2-door, 5-window coupe with folding top and rear trunk  X
Nomad Wagon: 6-passenger, 2-door, 7 window "hardtop" wagon  X
2 Door Station Wagon: 6-passenger, 5-window wagon with drop and lift gatesXXX
4 Door Station Wagon: 6-passenger, 7 window wagon with drop and lift gates XX
Sedan Delivery: 2-passenger, 3 window, panel delivery wagonX 

To this growing list of available models there were four engines available in 1955:

OHV Inline 6 cylinder: 235 cubic inches, 135hp
OHV V8: 265 cubic inches, 162hp
OHV V8: 265 cubic inches, 180hp (Power Pack)
OHV V8: 265 cubic inches, 195hp (Super Power Pack)

Chevy introduced the 265 in 1955 and it was the first V-8 offering from them since 1919. Because of (are you ready for this) poor gas mileage Chevy used the reliable six (Blue Flame Six) from then until 1955. To every hot rodders delight the new V-8 weighed in at 100 pounds less than the six. (Now that’s the best of all worlds: more power and less weight.)

The rest as they say is history as the 265 was so popular because of its reliability, performance, and ease of service that it would be around for decades and grew into such legendary powerplants such as the 327, 302 (Z/28), 350, and then the 383. There were also other versions of the small-block Chevy used in many different applications making it one of, if not, the most popular V-8 motor of all time.

Chevrolet saw fit to retain the same body and chassis throughout the three year production run from 1955 to 1957. Even in today’s world the Tri-Five (as it has become known) is a favorite among car collectors for restoration or hot rodding. When we speak of the Tri-Five we mean the 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevy passenger car. But since we love all things Tri-Five take a look at the 265 (yes, we couldn’t resist) photos of cars, trucks, race cars, customs, gassers, barn finds and show cars paying tribute every way you can to the iconic of all Chevys.

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