Our readers had no trouble identifying last week’s photo, even though the 1955 shown was not the usual Bel Air hardtop or convertible with full chrome, but apparently a lower-echelon wagon.
As usual, we learned a lot from our readers – about the various models of the weekly car and its history. We appreciate the breadth of knowledge our auto enthusiasts possess, and each week we seem to gain new readers. Thanks to all of you.
Chosen randomly from the correct entries was the name Ralph Whitton, of of Hephzibah, who wrote:
“It is a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air wagon. My brother-in-law managed a children’s home in the ’60s and ’70s and used it as a daily driver/utility/taxi vehicle for years. It took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’ for over 200,000 miles.”
Here are the other readers who entered last week’s the quiz. Unless otherwise noted, readers guessed the 1955 Chevrolet:
AIKEN: Bob Ennis: “It is good to see that we are still in the ’50s. This picture is the left rear door of a 1955 Chevy station wagon. It is not the Bel Air V-8 model. The six-cylinder Two-Ten series would be my guess.”
Also: Raymond Richards
AUGUSTA: Walker Mobley: “I think this was the middle-line Two-Ten model with the One-Fifty series being the less expensive line and the Bel Air being the most expensive. If my memory serves me right, these Two-Ten models were available with either the inline six-cylinder or the 265-cubic-inch small-block V-8. This was the first year for the small block V-8, and it became one of the country’s favorite engines and still is to this day.”
Gary Engen: “You are still stuck in the ’50s. This time you pictured a 1955 Chevrolet Two-Ten four-door station wagon.
“There was a Bel Air model and a Two-Ten model four-door station wagon made that year. The Bel Air though had ‘Bel Air’ script written above the chrome strip in the photo. Since it is not there, this must be the less-expensive Two-Ten model.
“This four-door version is also also nicknamed the Townsman. It was a six-passenger, seven-window wagon with both a drop-down and a lift tailgate. They sold for about $2,200 in 1955.”
Norman Lewis: “Its going to be back to GM. This week’s vehicle is a Two-Ten station wagon. This is a lower-priced wagon compared to the Bel Air model.”
Lowell Fritsche: “Boy, you are making it easy. This is a Two-Ten four-door station wagon. It has to be the Two-Ten because the Bel Air had a chrome name in the rear door just behind the upright. 1955 was a banner year for Chevy because they brought out their second valve-in-head V-8. That would be a good question to see how many know when Chevy had their first valve-in-head V8.
“Boy, everyone got testy about you dwelling on 1958. But you got us big time on the Chrysler 300C.”
Sammy Whitfield said it was the 1956 wagon.
Also, Loy Butler and Willie Thomas
BLYTHE: Jo Ann Holbert
CANTON, GA.: David Anderson: “This week is just a little bit easier than some have been in recent weeks. Since the Bel Air script is missing from the inside of the chrome side spear vee, this must be a 1955 Chevy Townsman Two-Ten wagon. The lowest rung One-Fifty series did not have the side trim at all, the Two-Ten series added the trim and the top-of-the-line Bel Air added the Bel Air script.
“The wagons were primarily aimed at the handyman who needed to carry his tools and equipment around with him, but needed the car to double as his primary family vehicle. They were also aimed at active families as a second vehicle, with period advertising showing Dad loading it up for the weekend camping and fishing trip and Mom gathering the family for a Sunday afternoon drive and picnic or maybe a day at the beach.
“The term ‘station wagon’ dates back to when a horse-drawn wagon transported passengers and cargo to and from the local train station. As the cars replaced the horses, a vehicle large enough to carry those same passengers and cargo was of course still needed. The automotive station wagon was therefore born out of necessity and became an essential part of our suburban lifestyle in and around our cities and towns.
“This continued until the Chrysler Corp., helmed by Lee Iacocca in the 1980s, nearly single-handedly killed off the family wagon with the minivan. Chrysler is today the only domestic manufacturer still offering a minivan (although it is actually made in Canada) while both Ford with the Lincoln MKT and Cadillac with the CTS Sport Wagon still field wagons.
“Make no mistake, however, that although the Lincoln MKT is closer to a wagon than an SUV, Lincoln does not classify it as a wagon and you will be met with a glare of indignation to say otherwise! Ironically, neither Cadillac nor Lincoln ever officially offered a wagon variant in their showrooms during the station wagon’s heyday.
“To this day, I do not know why my family never owned a station wagon. With four kids, you would think it would be an obvious choice. One or both of my parents must have sworn never to be seen in one, because all we ever had were a series of two-door coupes or sedans.
“Believe me, there was always bickering going on about who was not going to be the pickle-in-the-middle of the back seat!”
DEARING: Gene Hobbs
EVANS: Paul Perdue: “This week’s vehicle is a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon. The 1955 Chevy was a popular vehicle, with over 1.7 million produced, and they accounted for nearly 23 percent of all car sales in the U.S. in 1955.”
Bill Harding: “The 1955 Chevys were almost totally different from the ’54s. Styling was all-new, including a wrap-around windshield and grille similar to what a Ferrari wore. A 12-volt electrical system replaced the six-volt system in use since the beginning of time.
“The biggest news under the hood was an amazing 265-cubic-inch V-8, an engine whose basic design powers vehicles made by General Motors 60 model years after its introduction.
“Models available for 1955 included the all-new two-door Nomad, which unfortunately flopped, but is now a much-sought-after collectible. V-8s were available in three horsepower ratings: 162, 180, and 195. The standard 235-cubic- inch in-line six produced 135 horsepower and weighed 30 pounds more than the V-8.
“Transmission choices included three-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive or an optional two-speed Power-Glide automatic.”
Larry Heath: “The photo shows a Two-Ten model, four-door station wagon, called the Townsman. The big news for Chevy in 1955 was the 265-cubic-inch V-8 engine. This became the basis for a long series of small-block engines, some of which are still used today.
“Station wagons were not cool in 1955 as compared to the SUV and CUV of today. However, wagons had the same options available as any other ’55 Chevy and were very practical vehicles. Two-tone color combinations were a popular option during this era. Restored or survivor cars with these combinations are popular at car shows. They represent a sharp contrast to today’s single color vehicles with plastic bumper covers.”
Wayne Wilke: “It could be a Bel Air or a Two-Ten model. It was the Chevy Nomad’s “unattractive but more practical sister.”
Glenn Frostholm: “The more upscale Nomad was a two-door model and had different chrome trim.”
GRANITEVILLE: Bob Smith narrowed it down, saying: “It’s not the Nomad or Huntsman, so it is the Bel Air Beauville or the Two-Ten Townsman. It has no chrome on the front door, so it’s a Two-Ten Townsman. It came iwth a Blue Flame six or the Turbo-Fire V-8.”
GROVETOWN: Gale Agee said: Chevy offered five wagons in 1955: the Bel Air Beauville four-door, the Bel Air Nomad two-door, the Two-Ten Townsman four-door, the Two-Ten Handyman two-door and the One-Fifty Handyman two-door.”
Chuck Bissell: “It’s the 1955 standard wagon from Chevrolet. The chrome piece on side threw me off, because on most it went all the way up to the top of the door but on this particular model it didn’t. That was a good one.”
Jack Williams guessed the 1957 Chevrolet base model and said he thought it was a wagon.
Yvonne Clement guessed the 1957 Bel Air.
HEPHZIBAH: Herman Keith guessed the 1957 Chevy Bel Air wagon.
Also, Eddie Cleaves
KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner: “1955 was the first year for the 12-volt electrical system in Chevrolet and other GM makes. It was the first year for a V-8 Chevrolet since 1916-17.”
LOUISVILLE, GA.: Bob Holbert: “This week’s car is a 1955 Chevrolet Two-Ten station wagon with the distinctive ‘spear’ trim. This is the four-door model, although there was also a two-door base model. It came standard with a six-cylinder engine and three-speed column-shift transmission but could be upgraded to Chevy’s first overhead-valve V-8 and Powerglide automatic transmission.
“Unlike the Bel Air version, it had few frills but it was good family transportation.”
MCBEAN: Robert Lamb guessed the One-Fifty or Two-Ten wagon.
MARTINEZ: Lloyd Schnuck guessed the Two-Ten Townsman.
Cheryl Cook: “I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who had trouble with the 1957 Chrysler! Station wagons were great, weren’t they? Especially if you had children, they were the best. Except for the fact they could get so far back you couldn’t reach them if they were misbehaving!”
Jim Muraski guessed the Two-Ten four-door station wagon.
Christopher March: “I think it is a Chevy Two-Ten. Or a Handyman. It might be a Bel Air. It is a four-door sedan.”
Jeff Keevil: “Today’s car is a 1955 Chevrolet Two-Ten wagon. The upscale version of the car is the Bel Air. That version includes a Bel Air script above the trim that is not shown in today’s photo.”
NORTH AUGUSTA: Wayne Leslie knew it was that year’s station wagon.
Robert Blake knew what the car was and also gave a bit of history, automotive and otherwise, for the mid 1950s: “The side view is of a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon. This was difficult. I knew I had seen that side trim before, and after doing some research, I finally found a side view of a Chevy wagon that was not one of the higher trimmed out models.
“1955 was quite (different) for Chevrolet and Pontiac as they both shared a new model platform. Ford, Mercury and Buicks got new styling without new platforms. 1955 was a year in the auto industry when we saw the horsepower race really heat up, wraparound windshields were widespread, the Chrysler ‘Forward look’ arrived, legislation was introduced for mandatory seat belts in cars.
“The same year tubeless tires became standard, some brands had push-button automatic transmission selectors, and the American Automobile Association announced it was no longer sanctioning auto racing and urged manufacturers to emphasize safety, not speed.
“The 1955 year also saw the first McDonald’s and the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants built. Disneyland opened in California, and Davy Crockett was on TV.”
PERRY, FLA: Larry Anderson: “It looks like we might have a 1955 Chevy Two-Ten Townsman four-door wagon this week.”
WASHINGTON, GA.: Clint Albea: “The car in Friday’s paper looks like a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon.”