46 Years Same Family: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

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Chevrolet reserved its “Tri-Five” convertibles for the upscale Bel Air models in 1955-57. They were consistent sellers, with production numbers across all three years varying by no more than 15%. The 1956 editions shared most of the same styling cues as the 1955s, saving the addition of tailfins for the following year. This sharp ’56 drop-top has been in the same family for 46 years but is not original as you would expect given the passage of time.  But it’s obvious the owners have tried to keep it in top order. Located in Salem, New Jersey, this Bow-Tie is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $45,900, which is not enough to trigger the reserve. Thanks for the flip of the tip, Larry D!

Though 41,883 copies of the Bel Air convertible were built in 1956, this edition may be in rare territory among the ones still out there. That’s because it retains its dual-quad carburetor set-up from the factory with the application of 2X4 barrels that pulled 225 hp out of 265 cubic inches. More often, the 265 had a 2-barrel at 170 hp and sometimes a 4-barrel at 205 hp. Why not get some extra juice out of the motor since gasoline was 20 cents a gallon (maybe a quarter for premium, which this Chevy likely requires)?

This Bel Air joined the selling family in 1977. This was grandpa’s car that had already been repainted before he acquired it. We assume the combination of India Ivory and Tropical Turquoise are the correct colors used to cover this automobile in 1956. The body and paint seem to have weathered the decades okay, though we’re told there is some light rust on the floor pans and the seller provides several photos of the undercarriage.

In the past couple of years, some mechanical work has been done. This includes redoing the brakes, rebuilding the quad, installing a new water pump, and replacing the fuel tank. As a result, we’re told the Bel Air runs great with a 3-speed manual transmission and the only thing that may need more immediate attention is the mechanism that lowers and raises the top. It sounds like it needs coaxing to work. The car has its original fender skirts, though we don’t see them pictured anywhere. Put the top down and the peddle to the metal!

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  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    Yes, you could park this one at my place. Truth be known, you could park this at my place even if was sporting a six cylinder. Every time I see one of these I’m reminded of a scene out of Beach Blanket Bingo when Buster Keaton ran one of these over a cliff and wrecked it. I still remember seeing the body buckle behind the doors when it nose-dove into the sand. I was only 12 at the time and I was disgusted. Another good car gone. I hope this one finds a good home, and is Driven…

    Like 15
  2. Rw

    Greg Brady had one.

    Like 0
  3. LCL

    Are those “oil bath” air filters?

    Like 1
    • Ed P


      Like 0
  4. Jeff

    Very interesting car. Not sure about the 2×4 carbs being original to the car though.

    The dealer invoice shows engine # F56G. Suffix code G would be the lowest horsepower base 265 c.i. V8 for 1956.

    But the warranty pamphlet shows engine # F56S. Per all lists on the internet, there was no suffix code S for 56. If it was GS, that would be the 2×4 manual 265 c.i. V8. But it seems more likely that the only the warranty pamphlet was mistyped than BOTH the dealer invoice AND the warranty pamphlet being mistyped.

    More importantly, if you zoom in on the second engine pic you can see the block deck pad is stamped T0712D. That would make it a 283 powerglide block from somewhere between 1958 and 1964. So it’s not the original engine to this car, regardless of whether the car did or did not come with dual quads when new.

    Like 13
  5. PTS

    I was born in 1956.

    Like 1
    • Tbone

      I like cheese

      Like 2
  6. Jay E.Member

    It is a shame that the family can’t/won’t keep a car like this. Circumstances change and the care that someone gave this car will hopefully be continued. Buying Tri-Fives is getting less expensive, but repairing them is not. The generations like me that have worked on these since youth are dying off and at a shop it is very easy to spend $1000.00 for a day of routine work. Check out what a carb kits will cost you for this! That is if you can find a shop that has experience on 65 year old cars. It is hard to build the skills or find the tools to do it yourself anymore. Where have all the Sun tune up stations gone, those were wonders!!! It is worth it to get a cared for one and dabble around the edges with maintenance, like was recently done to this one.
    Not sure about the interior, surprised to see non-stock seat covers on such a low mileage car. I probably has some room to get higher bids someone is going to get a sweet car.

    Like 3
  7. doug johnson

    What about those rare fender squirts?

    Like 0
    • Marshall Belcher

      Skirts are no big deal. I see them for sale at the bigger car shows like caribe an carolinas.

      Like 0
  8. Bob Scott

    I had a 56,two door post when I was in the Air force, my dad told me about it when I was in Texas going to aviation school he said it was in excellent shape with 9k on clock that was in 1963 it had a 265 4barrel three on the tree my dad liked it better than his 55 he bought it for me at the price of 850.00 it stayed with me even after I bought a 1967 got kept it until 1974 sold it my cousin,have always wished I had kept it very dependable even up to when I sold it ,that 265 would pump great power had 32k on clock when I sold it

    Like 0
  9. TheOldRanger

    Back when I was a low-paid teacher in a small town (1972), my wife needed our family car to get herself to work, while I walked to school. One of the other teachers had an aunt in a nearby town who had a 56 BelAir sitting in her garage that wasn’t being used. It was her husband’s car and when he died about 5 years later, she just parked it in the garage, taking it out annually to get an inspection sticker. I was talking with her about the BelAir and she wasn’t particularly interested in selling it, but when she realized I was in a bind and needed a good car to get around with our young daughter, she said she trusted me to take good care of the car. She sold it to me rather cheaply which I really appreciated. I did have to replace a few things for those years just sitting in the garage, but it ran like a charm. My very young daughter loved that car with the huge back seat and my wife preferred this car for our rides in the country. When I left teaching and worked with a large manufacturing company, it was my transportation, but it was also my fame to claim, as most guys wanted to see the car and offered to buy it. Even when at a gas station, guys would pull in to chat and see if I would sell it. When I got transferred out of state (a long distance) I decided not to take it with me, but I found a high school kid with a single mom and they had little money, but he needed transportation. I sold the car to him for about what I paid for it. A guy who had been hounding me to buy it found out I sold it to this kid, he was upset. I told him that he could check with the kid to see if he wanted to sell it. I called the kid, told him this guy wanted to buy it and was willing to pay 3 times what he paid for it. The kid said no, he loved that BelAir and didn’t want to sell. My faith in the younger generation went up about 5 notches.

    Like 21
  10. Homer

    Re LCL comment on oil bath filters. I changed oil, lubed, cleaned oil bath filters on hundreds of cars between 55-58. I would love to see a head to head comparison with paper filters and see which would come out on top.

    Has anyone ever seen a comparison?

    Like 2
  11. Kenn

    Except for no “continental kit” this is a picture of the exact car my sister received new on her 20th birthday, sold to me a couple of years later for a fraction of it’s worth. Yes, the upholstery is wrong. Also, ours had a single 4 barrel carb, not the dual. Lots of memories flooding back. Wish I still had it. Or could afford this one. And Jay E., I’m capable of doing the maintenance and other work myself!

    Like 2
  12. Tony

    Got to married to my wife in 1962 the first car we bought together was a 1956 Bel Air 2 door
    HT Turquoise/ White with matching interior. It
    had a 265 ci with 3 speed stick shift. We paid
    468.00 dollars for it, also it only had 37,000 miles. We don’t have it today, but we have a
    1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible Red/Whte
    283PP — PG all stock fun to drive on nice days in the summer time.

    Like 5
  13. LittleJoesGarageMember

    Im located in Swedesboro NJ very close to Salem NJ.Be happy to do a prepurchase inspection for the prospective buyer.I have a small restoration/vintage shop here so I offer my service and support

    Like 2

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