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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Engines Exposed: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

March 6, 2015 Think THF, Archive Insight


1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 265 cubic inches displacement, 205 horsepower.


It’s the most enduring 8-cylinder American automobile engine. Chevrolet introduced its “small block” V-8 in 1955 – and kept on building it until 2003. Nearly every General Motors division used some variant, and total production is over 100 million, including later development generations. Not bad for an engine designed in 15 weeks. The compact unit is all but swallowed up by the Chevy’s engine bay. Note the relatively small-sized radiator, too. Efficient cooling was one of the small block’s many advantages.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

20th century, 1950s, Henry Ford Museum, Engines Exposed, engines, Driving America, convertibles, Chevrolet, cars, by Matt Anderson

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