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265 V8 Survivor: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

If you were old enough to be watching TV in the mid-1950s, chances are you saw a Chevy commercial featuring Dinah Shore. She was the voice for the “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” advertisements. No cars better fit that line than the Tri-Five Chevies of 1955-57. This mid-run example, a ’56 Bel Air Sport Coupe, is a survival-quality car, but it does wear a newer repaint and 1960s seat covers. But it has a numbers-matching drivetrain that’s in good running order. The car is in Edison, New Jersey, and available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $22,009. The reserve has yet to be met, but you can bypass all that by clicking the Buy It Now button for $30,950. Another tip from Barn Finder Larry D!

Production numbers for the 1955-57 Chevies were consistent from year-to-year with more than 1.6 million copies built of the middle models. Of that, some 130,000 Bel Air Sport Coupes were assembled, making it one of the most popular choices. The seller’s car is wearing India Ivory over Nassau Blue paint, the original colors that adorned the car, though it was redone in the 1960s. It has a few nicks and scratches, but the paint is holding up well, and both bumpers should be slated to be re-chromed. The undercarriage is mostly okay, though there are a couple of small holes, and a general state of crustiness is apparent.

The interior is nice but a bit bothersome. A prior owner put black vinyl non-period seat covers over the original material. If the factory fabric isn’t salvageable, I’d replace the upholstery with the proper material. The door panels were removed many moons ago and never reinstalled as we’re told the car was in storage for 40 years at one point. Some of the weather-stripping is missing and there are separations in the windshield that could lead to a replacement. The carpeting should be added to the to-list and the radio, clock, and heater aren’t currently operable.

Under the hood is the Chevy’s original 265 cubic inch V8 with 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. We’re told the motor runs well, but the transmission may slip slightly every blue moon. It’s said to be a good running automobile at 85,000 original miles. The seller acquired it from the family of the second owner (it was last titled in 1976). The carburetor has been rebuilt and all the rubber hoses replaced, with new gaskets sitting under the valve covers. A mechanical fuel pump has taken the place of an electric one. The brakes and tires are newer as well.

For those who prefer videos over still photography, the seller provides three live-action pieces to help interested parties gauge the quality of the automobile. Video 1, Video 2, Video 3. Other than cash, the seller would be interested in trading for a Corvette, a post-2008 Z06 edition ONLY.


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Regarding those seat covers; Somebody is missing their shower curtain.

    Like 23
  2. HadTwo

    Wait! Is this my old 56 Chev Bel Air?…..Last saw it in 1968
    I wasn’t the one that put those seat covers on……

    Like 5
  3. ruxvette

    The car is “all original, very unmolested and in excellent condition”. Looking at the chrome makes me think rust is just itching to break through the pain…body…frame.

    Like 2
    • Terrry

      Does “very unmolested” mean the same as “only half pregnant”? That interior should get someone arrested for tampering.

      Like 5
  4. Terrry

    Lousy interior or no, this car is a cut above most of the rust bucket Chevies, especially tri-5s, we see here, and the price isn’t outrageous either. Definitely worth a look or two.

    Like 8
  5. Howard A Member

    I always enjoy Russ’ mentioning of the past. Quick note, “See the USA in Your Chevrolet”, came out in 1949, a couple years before Dinah Shore. I think 1952 was the 1st car she promoted on her “Dinah Shore Chevy Show”, Chevy obviously the sponsor. She was Americas sweetheart, and helped sell a lot of Chevies, well into the 60’s. I think GM gave her a new Chevy every year for life.
    I’ve mentioned before, the historical value of a ’56 Chevy 2 door, V8. It wasn’t so much they were that desirable, it’s just ’56 Chevy’s were a dime a dozen, and offered the best bang for a pump jockies salary. In 1972, I made $1.77/hr. pumping gas. That annoying punk eventually grew up, got a decent job, and bought a new green Monte Carlo, but it wasn’t me. I bought an MG.

    Like 3
    • HadTwo

      Great historical perspective Howard! Thanks.
      I also graduated from two ’56 Chevy’s to sports
      cars including owning an MG now.

      Like 1
      • Dave

        I started in ’65 with a ’49 Buick and later on, like you, I discovered MGs. I had six of ’em–the best was a MIATA!

        Like 1
  6. Troy

    This is one of the few Chevys left that you can truly say was built in the USA

    Like 5
  7. Jack Quantrill

    That ‘56, is the best of the the tri fives . Not too boxy, or finzy. A pals mom let him drive their ‘56 two door post, with 265 V 8 and power glide. We were thrilled it could burn rubber just by flooring it. We were a pair of 16 yr old weasels.

    Like 7
  8. Denny Tuttle

    I had a 2 door post I dove in high school ,265 with a 3 speed ..Traded it in 1967 for moms 57 Ford conv. Like to have either one of them back.

    Like 1
  9. Kenn

    I owned a ’56 convertible, same color as this, all options GM offered including continental kit (no disparaging remarks please..) purchased from my twin sister for $750. I really liked the car and consider it the more attractive of the tri-fives. Kept it until neighbor girl side-swiped it while it was parked. Wish I had had the foresight to keep it. As I’m sure dozens of folks on this site feel about their rides from long ago.

    Like 1

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