Shorty Wagon! 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

From 1955 through 1957, Chevy’s Bel Air series offered a 2-door station wagon. But it was the sporty Nomad which failed to catch on with buyers at the time. But you could get the Bel Air as a 4-door wagon, the Townsman, which the seller’s shortened version may once have been. But the side trim suggests it may have started life as a 210 wagon, which was also offered. At any rate, this “shorty” is in Tehachapi, California, and is said to only need some undefined TLC. It’s available here on craigslist where the dealer’s asking price is $19,995 (recently lowered). Thanks for this custom tip, Scott L.!

If you do some online research on how these “shorty” wagons come to be, you’ll likely find some examples where the work was flawlessly done, while others would have been better off left alone. The seller provides no information or photos of this one’s chop job, so it would be hard to say how sturdy this wagon is. I’ve never understood the appeal of these kinds of transformations, but the Tri-Five Chevies of the mid-1950s seem to be popular given the number of them we’ve written about here on Barn Finds.

Since the doors are not wide, that lends credence to this having started out as a 4-door wagon. It could be one of the nearly 15,000 Townsmen that Chevy built in 1956. This one sports a 350 cubic inch V8 rather than the 265 V8 or 235 inline-6 it would have left the factory with. A 4-speed manual transmission joins the mix, as does front-end work done by Jim Meyer Racing out of Lincoln City, Oregon. But what did this work entail?

This Chevy has recently received some variation of a tune-up and new valve cover gaskets. It’s missing the front bumper which may be on purpose. Since the seller says it’s a fun car to drive around town, we must assume the car’s mechanical health is not where the TLC is needed. The white and orange paint look good enough, though they don’t merge well in the door jambs. Is this custom wagon one you’d go after, or would you instead apply the money as a down payment on a 1956 Nomad?


  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    Not a long roof for long boards, but maybe a belly board with a belly laugh? At least the buyer cannot complain about fitting it into a garage…

    Like 1
  2. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Was the price recently reduced, or shortened?

    Like 12
  3. Tbone

    Usually I absolutely hate these but with the stance and color and trim somehow if doesn’t seem as godawful as most of them. I would prefer it if it hadn’t been chopped up, but to each his own.

    Like 7
  4. Tbone

    The hood scoop might be the ugliest part of the body mods

    Like 4
  5. Rw

    OMG Russ , here we go again not every Tri 5 is a Bel Air.

  6. Terry

    These are wastes of good wagons. Proportions all wrong, usually shoddy bodywork and cobbled frames. I saw a shorty 55 wagon once that was well done but it still was out of proportion. Tri fives of any body style do not lend themselves to shortening and chopped tops, they just look terrible imo. I feel that just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.

    Like 11
    • Jasper

      Even worse was the “Forward Look” Chrysler wagon done like this.

      It’d be great if someone with a lot of resources replaced the missing middle.

    • 57Chevy

      Terry, I agree with you 100%. Thanks for saving me the time & effort of typing up My Opinion!!! What a WASTE is right!

      Like 1
    • 19sixty5 Member

      If the builder used doors from a 2 door it would be a substantially better looking end result. The short doors look sort of clownish, but it looks better than most of the 55-57 El Camino type conversions! I’ve seen worse for sure.

      Like 1
      • jim

        I think you are right if it had the longer doors off a 2 door it would not look too bad

        Like 1
  7. Gary

    Most likely a 210 with the Chevrolet script on the quarter panels

    Like 1
  8. mike

    Ruined a perfectly good wagon…sad

    Like 12
  9. Ricardo Ventura

    Unfortunate. A waste.
    An amputated car. Sad.

    Like 7
  10. Mike 2

    Surprised that they got beyond the half finished stage on something like this.

    Like 1
  11. GT

    The 1956 Bel Air Beauville was the 9-passenger 4-door model. Not Townsmen

    Like 1
  12. Sherm

    Once this is seen you can’t unsee it – fugly.

    Like 2
  13. Brian Kinnard

    Why? Should have followed DDSPEED SHOP. He would have used 2 door doors.
    Would have been Kool then.

    Like 1
  14. Tort Member

    Never been a big fan of 4 door tri-five Chevys whether a sedan or a wagon but I haven’t seen a shorty yet I would prefer over a 4 door.

    Like 1
  15. Will

    Install a front bumper, lose the hood scoop, and move the rear back so it doesn’t look ungainly. I’ll still hate it, but not as much.

  16. Troy

    Lot of surface rust in multiple areas leaves me wondering how well the welds to the frame are. But as others have said I would prefer a original unmolested wagon

    Like 1
  17. Arthur Courchesne

    Hmmmm! I wonder if you found a donor car what it would take to return it to stock, just a thought worth contemplating if you can do the work yourself.

  18. Norman K Wrensch

    Why? tri fives did have a two door wagon or sedan delivery, so why make this?

    Like 1
  19. Gray Wolf

    🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮-stupid build!

    Like 1
    • 57Chevy

      Totally Agree! Actually Beyond stupid!!!!

      Like 2

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