The Chevrolet Tri-Five, produced from 1955 to 1957, was a true sales sensation of its time, with a remarkable five million units sold during those years. While it’s highly coveted in the classic car world today, it’s not exactly a rare find.

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Rarity Among the Tri-Fives

Among the various Tri-Five models, the two-door Nomad wagon stands out as the rarest, with only approximately 23,000 units produced over a span of three model years. The 150 Delivery Sedan and Utility Sedan versions are also relatively uncommon. In contrast, the other variants were mass-produced, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. This includes the sought-after Bel Air Hardtop Sport Coupe.

Despite the impressive production numbers, the survival rate of Tri-Five Bel Airs is notably low. These cars were affordable in their time, and many owners didn’t hesitate to abandon them in junkyards or barns when they upgraded to newer vehicles. Consequently, most of the Bel Airs that have made it to 2023 are in poor condition, and sadly, some are beyond restoration due to rust.

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Thankfully, there is still hope for Tri-Five classics today. Some are meticulously transformed into powerful and eye-catching restomods, while others are painstakingly restored to their original specifications.

A Touching Restoration Story

Take, for example, this 1956 Bel Air. After spending 33 years in storage, it was brought back to life by the owner’s son as a therapeutic project for his dad, who had suffered a stroke. The car was retrieved from the garage and given a thorough cleaning, ultimately presenting it to his father. This heartfelt act allowed the dad to revisit the Bel Air he had driven until the late 1980s.

The cleaning process unveiled a vehicle still in surprisingly good condition. While the paint displays rust spots, the interior shows signs of wear and tear, and the original engine is missing, this Bel Air remains a fully intact, unrestored survivor. It boasts an appealing India Ivory over Sherwood Green paint scheme, a classic two-tone combination, and a matching interior, reflecting the style of the 1950s.

This 1956 Bel Air, one of 105,098 two-door sedans produced in its year, might not be a rarity in terms of numbers. However, finding survivors in this condition is increasingly difficult. It is a strong candidate for a complete restoration, and hopefully, it will undergo one soon.

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There’s no available information regarding its original engine, but the surviving features suggest a V8 powerplant. The 1956 Bel Air came standard with a 235-cubic-inch (3.9-liter) inline-six, although Chevrolet offered a range of V8 options. These included a 265-cubic-inch (4.3-liter) unit with various horsepower ratings. While any of these engines can be easily sourced today, the idea of fitting this Bel Air with a modern LS engine is quite appealing, envisioning this beauty cruising the open road once more.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air barn find

**FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions**

1. **What is the Chevrolet Tri-Five?**
– The Chevrolet Tri-Five refers to a series of Chevrolet cars produced from 1955 to 1957, including the Bel Air, that achieved immense sales success during its era.

2. **Why are some Tri-Five models considered rare?**
– Some Tri-Five models, like the two-door Nomad wagon and certain sedan versions, are considered rare due to their limited production numbers.

3. **Why do Tri-Five Bel Airs have a low survival rate?**
– Tri-Five Bel Airs have a low survival rate because they were affordable in their time, and many were abandoned in junkyards or barns when owners upgraded to newer vehicles.

4. **How are Tri-Five classics being preserved today?**
– Tri-Five classics are being preserved through meticulous restoration to their original specifications or by transforming them into powerful and stylish restomods.

5. **What’s the story behind the restoration of the 1956 Bel Air mentioned in the article?**
– The 1956 Bel Air was restored by the owner’s son as part of a therapeutic process for his dad, who had suffered a stroke. The car was brought back to life after 33 years in storage and presented to the father.

6. **Why is the 1956 Bel Air mentioned in the article a significant find?**
– The 1956 Bel Air, while not rare in terms of production numbers, is a significant find due to its excellent condition as an unrestored survivor.

7. **What engine options were available for the 1956 Bel Air?**
– The 1956 Bel Air could come with a 235-cubic-inch inline-six as standard, but there were also V8 options, including a 265-cubic-inch unit with various horsepower ratings.

8. **What engine upgrade is suggested for the 1956 Bel Air in the article?**
– The article suggests that fitting the 1956 Bel Air with a modern LS engine would be a great option to bring the car back to the road.

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