The Tri-Five Chevys—the 1955 thru 1957 models—have been popular since way before we started driving in 1965. We owned a ’55 210 post coupe back then. It was our first car and we loved it, but we still didn’t think it was as pretty as the ’56 Crocus Yellow and Onyx Black Bel Air that someone at our community college owned.
Even though Chevrolet promoted the “newness and bigness” of the ’56 Chevy, it was basically the ’55 with a wider more horizontal grill, slightly squarer front fender tips and flashier taillights. There really wasn’t much new about the ’56 and it wasn’t much bigger in any sense. However, we thought it looked better.
Strangely enough, the ’56 never gained the same kind of following as the ’55 did and it could never hold a candle to the popularity of the ’57 Chevy. We think that’s too bad, because the ’56 always seemed like the nicest of the three designs to us. It didn’t look as Plain-Jane as the ’55 did and it wasn’t as gaudy as the ’57. The ’56 styling always seemed like a very nice update of the ’55.
The ’56 also offered a few more engine choices, several additional convenience options and more dealer installed accessories. Factory color choices were also expanded in both single color and two-tone variations. There was also a longer list of interior trims.
Given all the features and benefits of the ’56 Chevy, it’s hard to understand why it runs a consistent third in the race for “Most Popular Tri-Five.” One has really got to wonder if the ’56 Chevy won’t follow the same path as cars like the ’54 MG TF and the ’58 Corvette. Years ago, both of these cars were lagging their counterparts in popularity, then things turned around and they became more desired by collectors. We kind of think the same thing will happen to ’56 Chevys some day.