Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Danville Street Sighting - 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

"It's not for sale."

Those were the first words the owner said to me when I crossed the street for a closer look at this beautiful blue Chevy.

The owner was having lunch at the restaurant next to where the car was parked, but he took a moment to tell me a little bit about his baby. He said that it began as a 235 Stovebolt six-cylinder car which he upgraded in 1999 to a 327 small block V8. I imagine it also received new paint around that time which shows very nicely. According to the owner, other than the engine swap, his car has been kept stock. He told me that it's rust-free and has never seen rain in the time he's had it.

Chevrolet was a six-cylinder automaker for so many years that the trusty Stovebolt built a solid reputation for reliability. Suddenly for 1955 consumers had the option of a brand new 265 V8 engine and a lot of them were skeptical. Most '55 Chevys still left the factory with a six. Quite a few of those have been pulled out over the years!

I told him that the pillared sedans are some of my favorites. Anyone who's seen my other Tri-Five Chevy posts here will know that. And yet those four-doors tend to be among the least valuable models because collectors and hot rodders all want hardtop Bel Air Sport Coupes and convertibles, or Nomad two-door wagons. As the owner said regarding the sedans, "they crushed most of those". That's frankly a shocking thought given that GM produced roughly 700,000 Chevrolet 4-door post sedans in 1955 alone, spread out across the base 150, midrange 210 and top Bel Air trim lines. The Bel Air sedan by itself accounted for nearly half of those. Where did they all go?

The day I found this car was perfect weather for taking a classic car out. I regret that I didn't find it about twenty minutes earlier so the tree across the street wouldn't have been casting shadows on the left side. That's the chance you take when your focus is photographing cars in the wild, as they are, where they are. It doesn't make this specimen any less amazing.

Photographed July 2017

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