CATEGORY:  [AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY]  |  TAGS:  [history,july 2015,chevrolet]




Happy 60th! -  1955 was a benchmark year for Chevrolet, heralded by both a striking new body design and a milestone new engine.  Chevy introduced the famous “small block,” V-8, the basic design of which survived for decades. While engineer Ed Cole (later to head GM) designed it for efficiency and low unit cost, its legacy with enthusiasts was, believe it or not, performance. This new engine employed die-cast heads with integral, interchangeable valve guides; aluminum “slipper” pistons, and a crankshaft of forged pressed steel instead of alloy iron.  Much more importantly, it weighed less than the six-cylinder engine it replaced yet produced 162/170 horsepower. For those demanding even more power, the addition of dual exhausts and a 4-barrel carburetor created the 180 HP “Power Pack” edition.







Other elements in the winning combination were the underpinnings. There was a more capable suspension, bigger brakes, and better steering. Not wanting to be left in the dust, GM’s design studio made a dynamic departure from its recent past. Clare MacKichan (then head of Chevrolet’s studio), Carl Renner, Chuck Stebbins, Bob Veryzer and others worked under the legendary Harley Earl’s mantra of “Go all the way, then back off.” The result was a tasteful body that had Earl’s benchmark beltline “dip,” a wrapped windshield with better visibility, more interior and trunk space, and a simple, egg-crate grille inspired by Ferrari. Thanks to a winning combination of features, Chevrolet led the industry in a record Detroit year with over 1.7 million cars, a new high for the manufacturer and approximately 250,000 more than Ford turned out that same year.

This year's anniversary is a true milestone - and any manufacturer would jump at the chance to produce a car that, 60 years later, is more popular than ever. 


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