The 1955 Chevrolet (sometimes referred to as ’55 Chevy) is an automobile which was introduced by Chevrolet in Autumn 1954 for the 1955 model year. It is considered a huge turning point for the manufacturer and a major success. It was available in three models: the 150, 210, and Bel Air.
The 1955 Chevrolet was the first successful Chevrolet with an optional V8 engine. Chevrolet had produced an earlier car with a V8 in 1918 (Chevrolet Series D), which used a 36-horsepower overhead valve 288-cubic-inch V8, but it remained in production for only a year. In 1955, Chevrolet decided to fit its new car with an overhead valve V8 engine design, which was similar to the 1949 Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” V8 engine which was an earlier GM success. Chevrolet’s new 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 was designed to be smaller, lighter, and more powerful than previous V8s in the auto industry, and would come to be known as the “Chevy small block”.
However, the new small block engine in the 1955 Chevrolet had some early teething issues. Some problems existed with cracked pistons, there was no integrated oil filter, so an external bypass filter was offered as a factory or dealer option. Those who did not order the engine with the “oil filter option” dealt with a high frequency of oil changes. Even with the oil filter option, only part of the oil was actually filtered (the oil going through the thermostat). This issue was corrected for the next year when a full flow oil filter system was added to the engine. Additionally, to keep performance and mileage levels high required spark plug and ignition points to be replaced on a regular basis. But other than those issues it was an easy to maintain engine. The small block Chevrolet V8 became so popular that Chevrolet still sells it today as an over the counter replacement engine or better known as a “crate engine”. There have been various changes made to the engine to modernize it since its introduction in 1954 however the basic design of the original 265 remains in place.