When the new 1956 Chevrolet came out in the fall of 1956, “The Hot One” got even hotter. With all the new exciting and revolutionary changes in Chevrolet made in 1955, customers might have wondered what Chevrolet would do for a follow up in the production year 1956. What customers did get was more power, more style and more refinements in the ’56 Chevy. “The Hot One” got even hotter was obvious on paper. The optional four barrel V8 was rated at 205 horsepower and 225 horsepower was available with twin carbs. The V8 ‘s had new power, was sweeter and made passing safer. Even the old six cylinder was beefed up.
1956 Chevrolet Belair Convertible
Anyone familiar with the usual three-year styling cycle in Detroit knew without a doubt that the 1956 Chevy would be a face lifted version of the 1955. But what surprised many customers at the time was the scale of both the face lift and the engineering upgrades. The restyling alone cost Chevrolet $40,000,000.00, with $1,000,000.00 spent for restyling the front fenders and grille alone. The 1956 Chevrolet was not a warmed up 55 Chevy but it wasn’t. The ’56 Chevy sales broke records because it was visually different from the ’55 Chevy.
1956 Chevrolet Belair Four Door Hardtop
Chevy styling was fairly extensively revised for 1956. The 1956 Chevrolet like the Bel Air Four Door Hardtop had a sharper looking front grille and a more chrome on the sides. Specifically, the 1955 Chevrolet’s small grille gave way to a shiny full width lattice work incorporating a large square parking lamp under each headlight. Restyling grille resulted in a new American Automobile that looked more like a Cadillac. Customers at the time demanded bigger cars, brighter cars with more horsepower and better performance. Overall, the 1956 Chevrolet was clearly busier than the 1955 Chevrolet, but it was more in tune with the times. The 1956 Chevrolet was just what Chevy customers wanted and they wanted an automobile at a low cost. General Motors knew that if a car was to sell well, a car had to look new even if it wasn’t.
1956 Chevrolet Two-Ten 2 Door Sedan
Other new features on the 1956 Chevrolet included a hood that was flatter, four inches longer, bearing a large Chevrolet emblem, wide chrome “V” on the V-8 models and a new stylized jet plane hood ornament. Yes, jet plane ornament and not a bird, although it is called a hood bird. There was also a small change to the ’56 Chevy chrome front bumper and the front fenders were broader and above the headlamps was a reshaped eyebrow. Along the sides of the 56 Chevrolet, the wheel openings were rounder and had more of a flare. The Two-Tens and Bel Airs had elaborate moldings that gave them bolder two-tone colors. The L-shaped side trim dressed up the 150 models, allowing them to be ordered with optional two-tone body side paint. At the rear of the 1956 Chevrolet, large chrome plated taillight housings were added. Each housed a round pointed tail light, a rectangular backup lamp and small reflector. Access to the gas tank was through the new tail light housing on the driver side. A larger and brighter chrome back bumper provided the finishing touches. The width, height and wheelbase stayed virtually the same on the 1956 Chevrolet. However, 2 to 3 inches in overall length was added. Wagons were 200.8 inches and other body styles were 197.5 inches in length. Increased length and with the new side trim, the 1956 Chevy appeared more streamlined.
1956 Chevrolet One-Fifty 2 Door Sedan
Chevrolet’s lineup for 1956 was as much in tune with the times as its styling. The three familiar series, Belair, Two-Ten and One Fifty, now extend over 19 models, three more than in 1955. Other changes were to engines, 10 solid colors and 14 two tone combinations. Included was a new body style, the four door hardtop. It was called the Sport Sedan and was available in both the Two Ten and Bel Air versions. Advertised as “embodying the youthful lines of a convertible, the practicality of a hardtop and the convenience of a sedan.” With station wagon sales rising, Chevrolet switched the Bel Air Beauville from six to nine passenger seating. Nine passenger seating was also available in a Two-Ten and increased Chevrolet’s station wagon offerings to six. Other models were continued from 1955. Interior space and the basic 1955 instrument panels were not changed that much, but there were the usual new colors and upholstery materials.
Chevrolet planed to keep its remarkable reputation for outstanding performance going strong in 1956 and therefore made several chassis revisions on the 56. Longer coil springs appeared up front for a smother ride and caster angle was increased one degree for easier steering. The rear leaf springs were mounted two inches further outboard for better cornering stability and six leaf springs were offered as an option on all models. These changes were evidently effective, for the 56 Chevy as the ride was reported better by Motor Trend’s magazine.
1956 Chevrolet Nomad
1956 was a good year for Chevrolet. It was a transition year, while the 1956 models did bring a number of first, it can not compare with the new offerings of the previous year or the succeeding one, as the best was yet to come. With classic Chevrolet collectors focusing their attention principally on the 55 and 57 models, the 1956 Chevrolet is often overlooked. It shouldn’t be!