There’s something about classic cars that just gets the heart of enthusiasts pumping like nothing else. The rounded curvature of the body, the sharp points on the tail-fins, the smiling-faced grilles, and wide-eyed headlights… all of it comes together to remind car aficionados what made the Tri-Five cars and trucks from Chevrolet between 1955 and 1957 so special. These vehicles are quite likely some of the most interesting and beautiful vehicles you can find when searching for used cars near you.
So if you’re interested in a little bit of history, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce on some of the best of the Tri-Five cars and trucks that stand out from that bygone period of beefy metal bodies and chrome-laced fascias. Let’s get into it.
1955 Task Force
You probably wouldn’t expect to see a pickup truck as the first entry on a Tri-Five list that is focused on the era of enterprise. However, one look at a 1955 Chevy Task Force pickup truck, and it’s made abundantly clear that you’re looking at a timeless classic.
The Task Force is an undeniably vintage piece of historic pickup culture, sporting the introduction of the wrap-around wide-swept windshield, bench seats, and a debossed truck bed that was situated between conspicuously bold rear fender flares. The truck exudes style like no other. The almost-growling front grille on a wide fascia with the iconic Chevy emblem at the base of the bonnet is the cherry on top of an iconic metal cake.
The Chevy Task Force is the definitive pickup of the Tri-Five era, sporting a memorable design and workhorse-ready performance, etching it into the history books as an excellent showcase of classic Americana culture.
You don’t see many station wagons make the cut for car lists that aren’t decidedly about station wagons, but on a list of Tri-Fives, even station wagons are considered cool among the bunch. The Chevy Nomad, in particular, stood out during the 1950s thanks to its signature Chevy bonnet, chrome bumpers, reflective trims, and the smiling-face fascia.
Unlike the traditional station wagons of today, the Nomad was introduced as a two-door vehicle. The stylish length of the wagon makes it look a lot more hip than the station wagons of today, and the white-walled rims with the protuberant emblems and elliptical chrome side-mirrors are like a touch of vehicular design perfection.
The 1955 Nomad may have been its introduction, but the 1956 design is certainly the more definitive and memorable look for the car thanks to the heightened style that saw the front grille stretch across the entire fascia, with the edge of the chrome trims conflating with the chrome bumper for a visually smoother and more consistent design.
The conversation around the Tri-Five era is oftentimes dominated by a few select Chevrolet vehicles, usually of the hot rod or gasser type, but there’s one in particular that seems to be unceremoniously left out of many lists: the Corvette.
The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette may have set the trend for sports convertibles, a design that almost seemed to be aped by the ’56 Porsche and ’69 Ferrari, but it was the 1956 and 1957 Corvette that seemed to break out of the mold with some very specific design alterations that helped make it a true sports car classic.
The 1957 Corvette, in particular, was the perfect marriage of the altered body stylings from the 1956 model, but with a lot more power-efficiency under the hood thanks to the introduction of Ramjet Fuel Injection1.
The 283 cu.in. V8 engine powered the Corvette and made it a beast both on the road and on the track. Coupled with the classic convertible look and the two-tone color scheme featuring a white side cove, the 1957 Corvette is an instant dream for anyone who cherishes the hulking performance and visual panache of Chevy’s Tri-Five era of vehicles.
1955 – 57 Chevy 210
It’s next to impossible to talk about the Tri-Five without bringing up Chevy’s 150 and 210 series. Of course, the 150 was basically a stripped-down 210, so obviously, the latter gets a lot of love from enthusiasts who value the multiple configurations and options available for the 210.
It’s not just one thing that makes this particular brand of Tri-Five so special. It’s all of it: the variety, space, and body options. The plethora of choice makes the 210 a favored and sought-after classic by enthusiasts and restoration groups alike. Unlike some of the other vehicles on this list, it’s not entirely easy just picking one year for the Chevy 210, because, as mentioned, many different options come with each year of this particular car brand. The 1955 iteration came in two or four-door options, with the four-door hardtop being offered between 1956 and 1957.
And while the 1957 iteration has the most customization options available, the 1955 model, in particular, ushered in the unmistakable look that Chevy’s 210 models are known for, replacing the bulbous bonnet from the previous generation with a more streamlined front-end. The grimacing fascia was also overhauled with a cheese-grater grille and relaxed fog lamps. The smooth side body and wrap-around windshield also became defining traits of the Tri-Five generation.
1955 – 57 Chevy Bel Air
There is no Tri-Five list without the Chevy Bel Air. The car practically defined the era for the company and helped set the stage for the following generation of highly tunable muscle cars. It’s no surprise why classic car enthusiasts and historians see the Bel Air as the burgeoning face of the hot rod generation. It was a perfect combination of style, luxury, and power that made the car stand out so spectacularly among the competition.
Most notably, it was the introduction of the second generation of the Bel Air in 1955 that brought with it all of the features that made its visage a staple entry in American iconography. The two-tone candy-colored paint jobs with white tail-fins and trunk combined with all the chrome trimming, matching chrome hub caps, white-wall wheels, and diner-style interior that helped define the Tri-Five era hot rod.
It wasn’t just style that made the Bel Air stand out, though; it was also the performance of a sports car that makes it an enduring fan-favorite even to this very day. The massive 4.6-liter V8 gives the Bel Air that hardy under-the-hood muscle that makes it a force to be reckoned with on the road. The customization-ready drivetrain is also a persisting trait that makes it so desirable among car enthusiasts to this very day.
The Bel Air is undoubtedly Chevrolet’s most popular Tri-Five era car, and the alternate trims and configurations in two and four-door varieties are what helped sell the car to young and older car shoppers alike.
Finding a Tri-Five Car
After reading about some of these classic American vehicles that helped shape an entire generation of car culture, you might be asking if there are any used cars near you of the Tri-Five variety? Well, if you were shopping for the purposes of restoration or adding to a collection, then it may not be too hard to find a Tri-Five near you.
However, these cars are best used for showroom and model purposes and not everyday use, especially given how they lack all of the modern-day safety features provided by car manufacturers. Even still, there’s something special about a Tri-Five, and whether you seek to own one or not, there’s nothing wrong with admiring a little slice of American car culture from afar.