Tri-Five Gasser: 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air

Of the three years the Tri-Five Chevrolet body style was available (1955 to 1957), the 1956 is my favorite year. Its appearance seems more aggressive, grown up and wildcard-like to me than the 1955 and 1957 styling. When it’s modified in gasser form, the car looks even more aggressive in appearance. This 1956 Chevrolet Gasser was built back in the 1960s as a gasser and ran in the streets back in the 1970s. Find it here on eBay in Buckeye, Arizona, with no bids.

For 1956, Chevrolet made minor changes to the grille, trim and other accessories to its non-Corvette passenger cars, giving it a more grown-up look compared to the 1955 models. Overall, Chevrolet built 1,574,819 cars for 1956, second only to 1955 in terms of Tri-Five production. This particular 1956 is a two-door sedan, and I think it’s a Bel-Air due to the dash-mounted emblem. There are some rust holes on the rocker panels and trunk tail pan, but otherwise the car is pretty solid, especially considering the car sat outside for over 45 years. The trim appears to have held up well, as does the front and rear bumpers I like the Cragar wheels up front with the steel wheels out back, but I feel like the car would look better with skinnier tires up front and cheater slicks mounted on the rear wheels. If I bought this car, I would clear-coat over the body and leave its appearance as-is.

The motor that was in the car was removed at some point, but a lot of the components of the drivetrain are still included, including a 12 bolt rear end, Borg Warner T10 4-speed, bellhousing, cylinder heads, and aluminum intake with carb and cool vintage air cleaner (It looks like a Mr. Gasser flytrap air cleaner), all of which were found in the trunk. My guess is a small-block was in this car back in the day, but I’m not sure (and doubtful) that it was the stock 265 V8; it was most likely a 283, 327 or 350. In keeping with the 1960s gasser vibe, I would swap in a 327 or 350 and build it up with the included components and some vintage speed parts.

The roughest part of the car is the interior, which has seen better days and will need to be restored. The floorpan has some holes in it, but according to the seller are minor and can be patched. The wood door panels need to go, as does the small vintage wheel, but I dig the vintage gauges and the 1950s dash. The interior appears to be dark blue, and would look sharp redone. Swap in a stock steering wheel and a Hurst shifter, and this car would be rarin’ to go. This car is going to need a lot of work to become roadworthy again, but if the price is right this would be a great car to build up as a gasser or a 1960s hot rod. What are your thoughts on this Tri-Five Gasser?

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Comments

  1. Danny

    It’s not a Belair.

    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      Then why does it say Bel Air on the dash?

      1
      • Barry Smith

        The car is a 150 model, the bare bones basic of the 3 models (have one in my garage). The BelAir would have lots of extra chrome around the windows and additional side molding which removed would leave lots of small holes or would take tons of body work to cover up. Not an easy task… does not take much to add the dash emblem to the speaker grill and a few pieces of dash trim. Guess what, my 56 has the same dash trim someone added from a BelAir parts car which I will remove when I start my restoration.

      • Rocco Member

        That is diffidently NOT a BelAir. The trim started near the rear, and went up the side toward the front, and curled back around to just behind the door, similar to what you see(behind the door) but different.

        That is where the tubes & speaker is for the radio. That piece slides out, and is easily replaced. My ’56 that I drove to high school (’66-’67) came with out a radio. So I found one in the junk yard. Luckily, the one I found was in a BelAir as mine was. Paid $10 for both components(push button radio & tube assembly & speaker). Checked the tubes at the local Sparkle Market in their tube checker(all were bad). Paid $7.50 for all tubes, $1.98 for antenna, and I was listening to the Beach Boys, after I grounded it to the frame with a coat hanger, for under $20. Ye Haw!

        1
  2. jw454

    I think it’s a 150 model.

  3. joeinthousandoaks

    it’s funny how Beliar is a term related to the tri-5 Chevy’s that gets used as a generic description rather than denoting the actual model. The Belair was the top of the line where this car is the bottom of the 3 model ranges.

    1
  4. whippeteer

    The Belaire did come in a basic 2 door sedan post model. Here is a graphic that I found of the Belaire, 210, and 150 models.

  5. tsmith

    The movie “Two Lane Blacktop” comes to mind…not a ’55, but close enough.

    1
  6. Loco Mikado

    A 265 can be a stop light to stop light screamer. In the early 70’s there was one in a ’55 in the downtown cruising scene. It had been built like a 365hp 327 only it was a 265 block. It could rev up quicker than anything because of it’;s short stroke. And nothing could touch it in a 400 ft run.

    1
    • tom schweikert

      a friend in high school had a 55 4dr wagon 265 pg then came dual exhaust, a 3 speed conversion, a solid lifter cam and fuellie heads, and an iron intake and 4 bbl carb,and a big pile of mexican slicks burned to the rim. the stick setup ended up in my 57 belair wagon with .040 265

      1
  7. levis gasser

    Looks like 150 quarter trim

  8. Ray

    As others have pointed out, there is a conflict between the speaker grille script (Bel Aire) and the side trim moldings (150 Series). Given the ease of adding the speaker trim, vs changing side trim moldings, I’d put my money on this being a 150.

    1
  9. Phil

    When is the phony patina crap going to stop? A clear coated “patina” looks even worse.

    1
    • John

      AMEN, brother!!!

  10. Alan (Michigan)

    Not sold (or even bid on, apparently) at $5900.

  11. Rock

    The air cleaner is called a “velocity stack”……………and in his description of the car on eBay, the seller says he’s a huge gasser & tri-five fan, and he just “had to have it”….so if that’s the truth, then why is he flipping it now?

  12. 1stGear

    Put together a nasty 383 and I’ll let everyone in on “that it’s only a little 283”. WHO really cares if it’s a 150 or BEL AIR? Read my lips: IT’S A ’56 GASSER.

    1
  13. rbtempe

    I like the door panels made out of …well paneling

    2
  14. bog

    My Gramps had a ’56 4dr Bel Aire and it did indeed have far more chrome trim than this car. White above the trim line and that nice light, almost turquoise, blue below. Being a Chicago car, the salt “had it’s way” with the rockers, so being practical, he got some long pieces of aluminum and used sheet metal screws to cover the “mess”. Presto, more “shiny” on the lower part of the car. That car would have possibly made a cool “Gasser” too, as it was a 6 w/3 on the tree….Yank and replace with a small block/ 4spd.

  15. Michael Shook

    Side trim on this one, designates this one as the Del ray, which is actually considered quite a rare model. This being the less costly 150 model due to basic side trim. The fancier Del Ray had the full length body trim package, and more fine interior details, with some of the rarest including the chrome interior headliner bow strips(aka),Bel Air deluxe interior. Ergo, if this has the headliner package, most likely this is a 210 Del Ray, but doubtful due to the 150 exterior trim. Just imagine this as a Duntov COPO one off…in our dreams. Imagine the value loss of a 265 w/2-4s, and a 30-30 cam and head mods…what a loss, an original mountain mouse motor.

    2
    • tom schweikert

      my favorite motor

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