1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
Displacement: 265 Cubic Inches
Horsepower: 205 BHP
Cost New: $2,716
The 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air built on the growing popularity of the freshly redesigned 1955. The minor face-lift gave the '56 Chevrolets a more conventional full-width grille, pleasing those customers who did not favor the Ferrari-inspired '55 front end.
Distinctive two-tone body side treatments on the Bel Air imparted a look of motion - even when standing still. Graceful front and rear wheel openings, updated for the '56, completed the "speedline" restyling. The new designs also incorporated larger rectangular parking lights, sweeping side trim and the gas filler, hidden behind the left taillight -ideas popularized on the Cadillac.
Seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and a padded dashboard were available, and full-size cars could even get the hot Corvette 225 horsepower engine. GM spent around $40 million to make the 1956 Chevrolet visually unique from the '55 and outpace the competition. It succeeded and outsold Ford by more than 150,000 units this year.
One of the most famous advertising programs of all time was Chevrolet's sponsorship of "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show." The song, "See the USA if your Chevrolet," was first sung by Dinah Shore in 1952. Chevrolet began sponsorship of a full-hour variety show, hosted by Mrs. Shore, in 1956.