Chevrolet must have been mighty proud of its new ’55 cars, because they even splurged on beauty shots of the low end cars, like the 150 2-door sedan, for their promotional postcards.
And how did this particular car end up, in the hands of a kid some years later? Undoubtedly sporting a rattle-can primer paint job, a noisy V8 and rear spring shackles?
This 210 wagon was probably spared that fate.
I have a question about these low line models. Was it really possible at that point in time to order a two door 150 with a V8, Power glide, power steering, and air conditioning? (55 was the first year for AC in Chevies). I understand the car would end up with a higher price than a base BelAir, but for someone who wanted everything while looking very basic, would they build one?
Yes. Options were not limited to any line. It made no difference in their assembly, so there was no practical or other reason not have options be universally available.
I suspect the salesman would have some raise eyebrows at such an order, but wouldn’t care otherwise. And of course the resale value would not be as good as a similarly-loaded Bel Air.
Back in 1974 I found a 1956 Nomad, 2-tone copper and white, about 26,000 miles, 1 owner car. It was loaded with almost every possible option including factory air conditioning. It had been ordered with A/C ’cause it was sold new in Phoenix, AZ. And I will mention it had zero rust problems & nice original paint. And it’s the only enclosed ’56 Chevy I’ve ever seen with full leather interior. The original owner said it listed for almost $5,000.
I discovered in order to change spark plugs, you had to have an additional elbow mid-lower arm, in order to reach the plugs on the right side of the V8. Even the left bank was hard to reach except for the back one.
Bought it for $600. Ended up selling it to a neighbor’s son for $1,200, he ruined the car by turning it into a hot rod, pulled out the A/C [threw it in the trash!] changed engine/trans to 350/4-speed, newer black bucket seats, etc. Totaled the car by rolling it when drunk.
This question brings back memories. My uncle Mike (Barilla-mom’s brother) was a disabled WWII vet in Lakewood, OH who always came to Johnstown, PA to buy his new full sized car from my father. Being disabled he always needed an automatic, power steering, power brakes, and a couple of other features normally standard on an Impala. Being a post office employee with a Depression mentality, he never got anything fancier than a Bel Air. Which meant dad always had to order his car, and would normally get a call back from whatever was the ordering office to make sure that the order was correct, since it was way over optioned from a normal Bel Air order at the time. This was also unique that dad would do the whole deal over the phone, and Mike, wife and son would spend a few days at the house when they came to trade cars.
When dad bought the ’65 Impala wagon, without A/C, there was a Bel Air wagon on the lot with it, in green. I suspect it was a special order sale that was never completed. Begged dad to buy it, a nine seater, too. But, he hated the color.
Strange scenes! Frankly stage sets, sort of inside and outside at the same time, not pretending to be real situations.
If they wanted real Hollywood glamor, they could have shown James Dean in his 210 Delray.
Because “Rebel Without a Cause” was NOT the kind of wholesome family image Chevrolet was looking for in 1955!
Even the lowest-priced models were considered fully acceptable and legitimate choices within the product line, and therefore deserved the glamour treatment. Note that they almost always have either whitewalls or 2-toned paint (extra cost options).
I’ve always liked this 1959 Biscayne shot. Apparently the Biscayne script was moved from the front to the rear fender in actual production.
The only thing missing in that photo is a UFO and the name of the punk band using the photo for its album cover.
I could see why they promoted the low end cars. The 150 2-door is a sharp looking car, with that appealing “plain Jane” look.
The 150 has a European vibe with its clean look. Much nicer without the gingerbread.
An obvious influence on the Opel Rekord P1.
So many American cars of the period seemed over-decorated when seen through foreign eyes. This just needs chrome around the windshield instead of bare rubber.
This is a very, very crude version of the ‘55 Chevy. Zero chrome trim. Didn’t even have carpeting or armrests in the back. Was bought mostly by taxi fleets and cheapskates. While the 150 may have been available with all Chevy options, few had anything more than maybe a radio and heater. Even Powerglide was relatively rare in a 150. The 210 was a nice upgrade and, of course, the Bel Air was what most aspired to.
I had a ’57 210, still had a black rubber floor. The main differences were outside trim. At least by ’57, the 150 had polished stainless windshield frame and side spear.
The 150 was the best of the bunch. Not dripping with tacky crap and gaudy trim, a stiffer structure than the wet-noodle hardtops. (It’s a coin flip if either door on a hardtop would open with a front tire on a curb.)
Give me a V8, 3-speed with floor shift (dealer installed if necessary), Blue Streak tires, HD brakes and suspension. (This was the era when you could order no-kidding NASCAR stuff from a dealer.)
Couldn’t they find a car that had a hood that fit flush to the fender? What does this say about the quality? Geez – that isn’t a good look.
Very likely not production cars. Could even be styling clays on a wooden frame.
“Roger? You made this clay model of the 150 look too good. Set that bar lower and scrape out some clay to make sure it really looks like a piece of crap made by Chevy.”
“Oh yeah – this is a Chevy so I better make sure I add mismatched gaps.”
“…and Roger…if you need to add any trim, make sure it isn’t straight.”
Count me as a fan of the 150, because I’m no fan of “gingerbread”. Especially for ’57, I thought the Bel Air was thoroughly overdone, while the 150 was nice and simple.
And from my recollections of conversations with my father, who was a fleet buyer of Chevrolet sedans from the 50s through the 70s, you had to be a true cheapskate to buy a 150 over a 210 (much like buying a Biscayne in 1972). The price difference up front was almost insignificant, I want to say under $100 for many years, and the resale value at the end of 3 years more than paid for the difference in initial pricing.
Of course, this was a particular use case. My father was buying fleet cars for a team of Sales Reps. Every rep got a new car when his current car hit 60k miles – that might be 1 year or 3 years, depending on the size of his territory. Before the advent of leasing, that meant trading in a car every 1-3 years, and resale mattered.
And even though my father was indeed a cheapskate (sorry, Pop!) image did matter to him and he didn’t want his Reps showing up in a cheapskate car. He always bought the second-from-the-bottom model, never the stripper.
The quarter panel of the 150 is just a bit too plain. I would have sprung for the 210 just to get the quarter panel side-spears. It would have been ‘just right’.
But, overall, I think I would have chosen a 1955 Plymouth Plaza 2-door, instead. Even the 1955 Ford looked okay.
I don´t think it would have been difficult to buy the 210 trim pieces and have them installed.
Or radius the wheelwells before you shoot the rattlecan primer 🙂 Fills that dead area perfectly
The radiused rear wheelwells of the ’55 Chevy used in both Two-Lane Blacktop and American Graffiti had occurred to me, as well.
Definitely the Ford for me. There was enough going on in the sheetmetal that it didn’t need chrome to look good.
Spring Shackles -wow, that brings me back. Seems like every other muscle car in the late ’60s and early ’70s was sporting those. Has there ever been a CC on those? I did a quick search and no dice.
Are all new cars today “strippers” because they have no chrome/bright metal trim on the bodysides (and blackwall tires)?
Also, modern cars don’t have a nice chrome bead around the windshield like the Two Ten and Bel Air.
No, they’re “European inspired”
I love those old glamour shots the manufacturers used to do.
Looks exactly like a 1957 “F” series Vauxhall Victor to me
Odd color choices–green car against green background, blue against blue. Didn’t they want them to stand out?
The guy is happily waiting for his wife to get off her butt and drive. How non-sexist for ’55.
I was thinking about that as well. Not only is the man in the passenger’s seat, but the woman has quite a fashion-forward haircut for those days.
I’m so used to RHD cars that to me the man was in the ‘right’ place – totally missed that was the passenger seat!
she looks like Tad Tadlock from the 1956 GM Design for Dreaming film.
If you ever get a chance to spend some time with a well-maintained survivor in good condition, it gives off such a sense of quality, and that the entire package is of a piece. The thick paint, the solidity of the doors and the sound they make when you close them, the interior and all its trimmings. The layout of the high roof, high seats, and the useable trunk. The entire package. IMHO, especially the ’55 of the tri-fives, is simply one of the best cars ever built. Nothing about the function of it is particularly special, but it all does as it is supposed to. Meanwhile, the car itself pampers you and rewards you in ways that are difficult to convey in words and pictures, without actually sitting in one or driving it. I’m sure this is true of the low-end models as well. A truly good car doesn’t need all the dress-up options to be great.
To me, the ’55 is definitely the purest of the “tri-fives,” and these delightfully spartan ads really show off its basic goodness. The fact that these plain-jane cars can look so appealing sitting in what is little better than a high-school drama production set is a testament to their classic lines. Good on Mr. Earl, at least for this model year, for eschewing the chrome excrescences that spoiled the look of so many mid-late 50s cars (I’m lookin’ at you ’57 Chevy, sorry…). That simple egg-crate grille is timeless. True, I might want the slightly snazzier trim of the 210, but the 150s were not just consolation prizes by comparison.
Couple of comments. I recall when the ’55 Chev came out, the motor mags commented how the grille was like a Ferrari. I always like the ’56 but came to like the ’55 as the purest of the Tri Fives.
Second comment, certain Chevs can look good even in the lower price models. Just starting with 1955: ’55, ’56, ’57, Definitely not the 1958 (only Impala and high level wagons looked good), ’59, ’60, Not the ’61. ’62 and on to …. not too bad in lower price models.
I have never understood the numbering system of these cars. The 150. The 210. Did these come in below the Biscayne or the Bel Air in trim levels, or were they model numbers of those cars?
They were series names used from 1953-57 based on the factory four-digit body style codes. 150 models had body codes 15xx and 210s were 21xx (Bel Airs were 24xx). For 1958, the 150 was renamed Delray and the 210 Biscayne.
1953-57 150-210-Bel Air
1958 Delray-Biscayne-Bel Air-Bel Air Impala
1959+ Biscayne-Bel Air-Impala
You beat me to it with a more complete answer! I do remember the 4-digit body codes that are given in reference materials such as the Standard Encylopedia of American Cars.
’55-’57 Delray was a slightly upscale sub model of the two door 210 with an all vinyl interior in more colors.
The pecking order in 1953-57 was 150, 210, and Bel Air from low trim to high trim. The 150 and 210 had no model names on the actual car, only the Chevrolet name and bowtie. In 1958, Delray was the lowest trim, followed by Biscayne and Bel Air. The Impala was technically the most deluxe variant of the Bel Air, available only in 2-door hardtop and convertible body styles.
In 1959, the Delray was dropped, and the Impala was made its own series. Until the introduction of the Caprice in mid-1965, the order was Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala (in some years the wagons used different names).
My aunt had a 1957 210 sedan. The horn button had a “Two Ten” script. I thought that was weird spelled out that way but I was about 10 so what did I know?
The wags called them “buck and a half Chevys” and “two bucks and a dime Chevys”…
Sort of like the deuce and a quarter Buicks, eh?
Jimmy owned the porsche, and the ’55 Country Squire (tow car) and trailer at the gas station. the Chevie is mentioned in the Dean book Live Fast, dIE yOUNG, rented for him by the movie’s transportation captain by studio order.
Montgomery Clift nearly died in a new ’55 Bel Air sed (rental) leaving Elizabeth Tailor’s house, winding mt road, she climbed in the wreck and cleared his throat, saving his life. (throat and chest hit wheel)
The downside of 50’s cars – no seat belts, no collapsible steering columns, no safety cagse, lots of things to cause harm in the stylish interiors. The downside of 50’s driving – lots people drunk behind the wheel.
Glamour treatment, but of a sort budgeted in accordance with the low-end subject: no airbrushing of the empty black-curtained photo stage behind Madam Recliner, quite visible in the front left bumper.
I guess I´ve seen such a comment posted before, but I wonder how many different combinations you would have been able to build in those times. I´d love to be able to go to a dealer and just delete everything I don´t like. I’m a comfort fan, but don´t care for wheels, stripes, blackouts, glass tops, painted anything. Have cloth and no leather, very specific multimedia, but power everything. Sadly I can´t, so now that I’m looking for a car, those I can afford don´t have, for example, 6 airbags but have alloy wheels. And those that have everything I need, have too much in way of added options I don’t want or can’t pay for.
Love the ’55s and always have .