Patina Week Capsule: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air – Not Many Tri-Fives With Patina Still Left

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Once upon a time, beater tri-five Chevys roamed the land in vast herds. The cheap hot wheels of choice of young guys for what seemed like an eternity, they were everywhere, thrashed and mutilated in the hands of so many shade-tree engine swappers. And how many of them lived out those rough years wearing perpetual coats of grey primer, awaiting that day when its owner finally have saved up enough for a proper Earl Scheib paint job? Well, this one isn’t in primer, but it sure does remind me of that era, when these were everywhere. As well as the story of one in particular.

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Why are all these pesky old yellow Ford trucks trying to shoehorn into my shots? Can’t bear the thought of giving a Chevy the spotlight? Well, the tri-fives certainly hogged that forever.

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It almost evokes Cuba, but then Eugene is known as Havana, Oregon.

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This one was treated to a high-class red velour interior at some point, and one of the armrests is resting itself now.

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Care to guess what’s under the hood?

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I don’t look forward to the day when there won’t be a single beater tri-five Chevy left, to remind me of the time these dominated the street-scape.

I worked at a little Sunoco gas station in Towson on Saturdays in high school. One day, towards closing time, one of the guys who worked there during the week dropped by in his…gray primered ’57 two door Chevy. After washing it, he touched up the primer from a can of spray primer he always kept handy. He wanted to impress me as he was pulling out, revved the old 283, and dumped the clutch. The result was he broke one of his rear springs, and the poor old Chevy dropped down on its haunches in the middle of York Road. I felt bad for him as I watched him limp slowly away…that paint job he was saving up for was going to have to wait a few more months.

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