Review of the
The 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air is the intermediate model of the
1955-1957 models, popular known as the “Tri-Fives”. The 55’ famous for the first
small-block V8 and the 57’ with the beautiful styling with fins and fish
mouth grill. So many car enthusiast trend to overlook the fine Sport
Coupe Bel Air that was the premium trim top of the line in 1956.
This model of the car is produced by Road Legends in scale 1:18. Road
Legends is to my knowledge the former name of Road Signature, today’s
Lucky Die-Cast from the Yatming Group. The model car must have some
years since it was released and the box do not have any referring of the
Internet, so maybe we must go nearly 20 years back!
The model is very hard to find in any online store today, but I was
lucky to find the last at a dealer in Germany. Lucky Die-Cast has a fine
series of the model out now, but they are all convertibles, and I like
the hardtops better because in the design elements, the roof-line is
incorporated and is a important feature of the cars appearance.
When we look at the model straight out of the box; the first that comes
to mind is the lack of details compared to later releases, but the metal
castings and to some point also the plastic parts are nearly as good. In
other words, the model can be better with a little help and some
joyfully hours at the work bench.
After all the years in the box, the model need some polish with a soft
dry cotton cloth on all the paintwork. I use a special cloth from a
jeweler shop to polish all the chrome parts and if needed some swaps
will do on hubcaps and grill. – This procedure, I will give all my
models once in a while, and particular before the models shall be
Now that the model is total clean it is way better to judge how to start
the extra detailing on the car. The first thing that this model differs
from newer releases; are the missing white walls on the tires. If one is
very good with a brush, white paint may be applied when the wheel is
turning, but I cut out white rings of a sheet of decal paper as this
method is more secure by my skills. A closer look in brochures and
pictures show the wheels hub need paint in the same color as the primer
color of the car, in this case green. The hubcaps themselves (very well
casted) need some black paint (wash) on the outer-rim as they look a
like turbine blades. That work process gave a lift to the model and made
it more realistic.
Chevrolet named the two-tone color combination of this car: Pinecrest
Green and Dune beige and I most say it suits the car well. But Road
Legends have misses a important feature of the long spear-like trim that
follow the cars side; inside the spear the back color of the model shall
be painted – so I mixed some acrylic paint in the right color to apply
herein. If any paint is “over applied” it can easy be trimmed by a
finger nail or a toothpick.
“Skirts are for girls – Not on any Chevrolet” – Look how well designed
the trim lines goes with the flowing cut of the back wheel well. A back
fender skirt will in my mind have ruined the car lines completely.
The front of the car is very good, so only black-wash on the grill was
needed – But boy how better the front now looks! The model has fine
printed emblems all over and the chrome chevrons front and back are well
made. We must not forget to admire the colossal hood ornament the 56’
have and Road Legends have reproduced it well too. To spice up the
details I made a little radio antenna on the left front fender with
styrene plastic and wire.
This 1956 model of Chevrolet have a not so common feature: The trunk can
be open. This is very nice, but if we open the deck lid, there is
just an open hole, so I made an inner linings in plastic and coated with
a piece of Velcro band in black. The only two things left on the back of
the car; is the missing pair of reflexes of the backlights. This was
easy done by red paint. And the twin exhaust pipes needed to be hollow
The most remarkable workload on the model was the interior. This was
from the producer a sparse and toy like mess that the years have not
been kindly with. The white interior had yellowish plastic and stood not
very realistic compared to the fine details otherwise the car have. I
dismantled the model completely and gave the full interior a new matched
paint scheme. Here I was glad of my Liquid Chrome pen. The floorboard
was painted too and can be re-carpeted in the future as well as the
engine can be detailed later.
To sum it all up: There where a lot of work, but the model was cheap to
buy – I will had preferred the model came with all the newly details,
but on the other hand it will have a higher price tag. I had a lot of
fun when I worked on the model. So if you will give it a try I’m sure
you will enjoy it too.
I will give this model
2 out of 6 stars ******
Below here are pictures of the model,
historical description, old brochures, technical data and some movie clips for
the real car. So please enjoy!
Chevrolet Bel Air 1956.
Unlike today, where every carmaker must build a dozen
different cars to compete, back in 1956 most big car companies really
only made one model, and perhaps one special. Ford, for instance, built
its Ford in various trim levels, but they were all the same basic car,
then they also built the Thunderbird. Chevrolet did the same, with its
special being the Corvette. But everything else was essentially the same
1956 Chevrolet, in one of 3 trim levels, and one of several body styles.
But from the firewall forward, they were all identical. Talk about
economies of scale! And the sheer numbers that they were building in
those days (Chevy built over 1.7 million cars in 1955).
1956 "Speed line re-styling"
The 1956 Bel Air received a face-lift with a more conventional
full-width grille, pleasing those customers who didn't favor the
Ferrari-inspired '55 front end. Distinctive two-tone body side
treatments and graceful front and rear wheel openings completed the
"speed line" restyling.
The changes made in the ’56 were significant in the fact that they
signaled the beginning of the move away from the rounded bulbous shapes
of the 40s and early 50s and toward the square, flat-sided shapes and
wider-lower-longer look of the 60s. Where the 55’s front grille was
narrow, rounded and organically-shaped, the ’56 had a bold straight
grille running side-to-side across the entire front of the car. It made
it look wider and lower than the 1955, even if it wasn’t. There was also
more chrome on the outside.
Single housings incorporated the taillight, stoplight, and backup light,
and the left one held the gas filler - an idea popularized on Cadillac.
Among the seven Bel Air models was a new Sport Sedan, a pillar less
four-door hardtop that looked handsome with all the windows rolled down
and allowed easy entry into the back seat. Production exceeded 103,000,
compared to 128,000 two-door hardtops. Shapely two-door Nomad wagons
topped the price chart at $2,608, but now carried the same interior and
rear-wheel sheet metal as other Bel Airs, lacking the original's unique
trim. Only 7,886 were built. The least costly Bel Air, at $2,025, was
the two-door sedan. Seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and a padded
dashboard were available, and full-size cars could even get the hot
Corvette 225-horsepower engine. In 1956 sales material there was an
optional rain-sensing automatic top. However, it is believed that it was
never installed on a car. Popular Mechanics reported only 7.4% of owners
in their survey ordered seat belts.
Front suspension tweaks were made to improve handling over the ’55
models. Despite all the improvements, sales actually went down from
their high in 1955.
Here’s what Chevrolet writes about the new-for-1956 Chevrolet cars:
”Extensive styling changes in all three series are made immediately
apparent by a massive, lattice-pattern grille, plus restyled headlight
hoods, rectangular parking lights, new bumpers and guards, fender lines
and wheel openings also distinguish the 1956 Chevrolet. Within each
series too, important exterior and interior restyling make
”Incorporating many significant styling and engineering developments,
the Chevrolet line for 1956 is highlighted by the addition of two new
body styles which expand the line to a total of 19 models plus the Sedan
Delivery. In addition, a 140-horsepower high-compression six-cylinder
regular production engine is offered, while both 2-barrel carburetor and
power package versions of the V8 engines are again available for 1956."
1956 Chevrolet INTERIORS TRIM LEVELS
Each series had its own interior, and this, the Bel Air's interior,
replete with chrome, gold lettering, a fan-shaped speaker and a clock in
the right dash, and much nicer upholstery, door and side panels and
1956 Chevrolet ENGINE OPTIONS
While the standard engine was the 235 cubic inch "Stovebolt-Six", we're
here to talk about V8s. In '56 that was the one-year-new 265 cubic inch
Small Block V8.
”Mechanically, the 1956 Chevrolet features more agile performance made
possible by a 140-horsepower 6-cylinder engine that is used not only
with the conventional 3-speed transmission, but with the optional
overdrive and Powerglide transmission. Other improvements are the more
durable extra-alloy exhaust valves and a compression ratio of 8-to-1,
increased from 7.5-to-1."
”A new high-lift camshaft in the V8 engine used with the Powerglide
transmission increases output to 170 horsepower. The 162 horsepower
rating of 1955 remains unchanged in vehicles with 3-speed or overdrive
transmissions. All V8 engines, however, feature a new optional full-flow
oil filter. When equipped with the optional power package, the V8 engine
is rated at 205 horsepower which marks a new high in Chevrolet history.
A high-lift camshaft and 9.25-to-1 compression ratio cylinder heads are
added to the 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust equipment of the power
package to achieve this rating."
”Other new features common to all 1956 models are a more durable 12-volt
battery, waterproof voltage regulator, improved headlights, electric
temperature gauge, and the inclusion of direction signals as regular
equipment rather than optional equipment at extra cost.”
1956 Chevrolet BODY STYLES
”The newly introduced body styles are a 4-door “Hardtop” Sport Sedan and
a 4-door 9-passenger Station Wagon which are feature in both the 2400 (Bel
Air) and the 2100 (210) Series. First introduced in mid-season 1955 and
carried over to the 1956 line are the 2-door 6-passenger Nomad Station
Wagon offered in the 2400 Series (Bel Air), and a 2-door “Hardtop” Sport
Coupe available in the 2100 Series (210)."
2-DOOR SPORT COUPE
This 1956 Chevrolet BelAir is a 2-door Sport Coupe. These differ from
the 2-door Hardtop (Sedan) in a number of ways. First off, there is no
center post, or B-pillar. When you roll the windows down, it's all air.
On the Sedan, even with all the windows down, there are is still a large
post. Second, the Sport Coupe had frameless door windows, which again
gave it the open-air look when rolled down. These were the same doors as
used on the Convertible. And lastly, the back window is pushed forward
on the Coupe. But the Coupe gave you a bigger back seat, and while the
trunk was smaller, it was still huge. These "Post less 2-doors" are
extremely popular today.
The Convertible was only available with the premium Bel Air trim level.
They were well-done convertibles, with graceful lines and a useful soft
top. They looked equally good, top-up or top-down.
2 and 4 DOORs SEDAN
This was the practical 2-door, not that the 2-door Coupe wasn't
practical, the Sedan was simply more practical, if that's possible. They
were all such huge cars by today's standards, how could they not be
practical. The Sedan also has framed windows on the doors, so that when
the door is open with the window rolled down, there is still a
substantial metal framework in the shape of the window, making for a
shorter, sportier-looking cab and a longer trunk deck. Although; not as
attractive as the Coupe. More practical perhaps, but not as visually
attractive to most people at least.
However, these "Posts" have a big following, and some prefer them over
any other body style. It also helps they were lighter than any other
body style and more rigid, because of the post, so they were popular
4-DOOR STATION WAGON
The lower trim level (Series 150) got a 2-door wagon. But for a 4-door
wagon, you graduated up to the more lushly appointed Series 210, and the
top-of-the-line Bel Air.
2-DOOR STATION WAGON
This is not a 4-door wagon, and it’s not a Nomad. And it differs from
the Panel Delivery because it has windows, and the rear sides rolls down
like a normal 2-door.
These were intended for use by businesses, contractors, and servicemen.
They filled the roll that today is filled by the van or minivan. Very
practical, available only in the lowest trim level, the 150-series, and
stripped of all creature comforts.
BEL AIR NOMAD
At the top of the Chevy passenger car pecking order was the Nomad. The
Nomad differed from other wagons in several important ways. First off,
they had front doors from a 2-door Sport coupe, so they had frameless
windows. Then, the rear-side windows slid forward and back, rather than
up and down. The entire rear of the greenhouse was canted forward at an
aggressive angle that carried through to the tailgate. And what a
tailgate! Seven vertical chrome spears dressed it up nicely. Always in
top level Bel Air trim, the Nomad was Chevy's nearly most expensive car
in 1956, except than the Corvette. But it was close. As handsome as they
were, the high price held back sales. Fewer than 8,000 were built in
1956 CHEVROLET BEL AIR
The BelAir was the top-of-the-line for a Chevy. They got lots more trim,
better choices of body styles, and a much nicer interior. They had more
chrome than the other two, and are easy to spot by this double chrome
trim that boomerangs back against itself at the front of the car, and
widens up in back. Many got 2-tone paint scheme.
1956 CHEVYROLET 210
The middle-of-the-road 210 combined comfort with value. It wasn't as
expensive as the Bel Air, but it wasn't as stripped-down as the 150
either. And have the single chrome spear running forward on the door and
front fender with a similar shape in the rear quarter, creating the
opportunity for 2-tone paint schemes.
1956 CHEVROLET 150
The bargain-basement '56 Chevy, the 150-series was stripped of all
unnecessary content, and trim, but the price was low. The only side trim
is a single spear on the front two-thirds of the car. At extra cost
2-tone was available.
2-door coupe body type
(rear-wheel drive), manual 4-speed gearbox
gasoline (petrol) engine with displacement: 4344 cm3 / 265.1 cui,
advertised power: 168 kW / 225 hp / 228 PS ( SAE gross ), torque: 366 Nm
/ 270 lb-ft
Dimensions: outside length: 5016 mm / 197.5 in, width: 1880 mm / 74 in,
wheelbase: 2921 mm / 115 in
Estimated curb weight: 1540 kg / 3390 lbs
speed: 182 km/h (113 mph)
Accelerations: 0- 60 mph 7.9 sec; 0- 100 km/h 8.4 sec
consumption and mileage: 17.5 l/100km / 16.2 mpg (imp.) / 13.4 mpg
(U.S.) / 5.7 km/l