If you’re a die-hard Tri-Five fan, you’ve probably seen this car before and won’t learn anything new here. But if you’ve ever wondered what makes a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air tick and what’s this gasser style all about, you may want to stick around.
This week, Hagerty’s valuation expert Colin “The Appraiser” is looking at a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air 210 Del Ray turned SoCal street racer/gasser. Its owner Bob worked in publishing for two decades, so this car and its mods have been highlighted numerous times, including in the GM Performance Parts Catalog.
It’s intended to be a replica of a gasser-type race car from the late 1960s and early 1970s. But while it’s a reproduction and not the real deal, everything’s been done with period-correct parts and not “blisterpack” reproductions.
For example, the engine. In 1956, Chevrolet offered the 210 with four engine options, from the least powerful 235 “Blue Flame” inline-6 with 145 hp all the way to the Turbo Fire “265 small-block V8. By 1960s standards, this was pretty low in output at 225 hp, so like any good hot rod, it’s got a newer, more powerful motor. It’s an original Z28 from the early 1970s, modified for performance with high-performance cylinder heads from GM with 11:1 compression.
The body is pretty interesting too. The Bel Air is a post coupe which supposedly adds a little more rigidity, although the roll cage probably does a better job in that department. This 56 Chevy is also built at the Van Nuys GM factory, which makes it rare and more unusual, plus it adds a few features, the one-piece hydroformed frame, and the single-piece chrome rear bumper.
On top of this, the 210 Club Coupe (2-door) happens to be one of 56,882 cars made in the Delray trim that year. Named after the Delray neighborhood of Detroit, this was a trim level that featured an upgraded vinyl upholstery with “waffle-like” pleating, color-keyed to the exterior, along with carpeting versus the rubber floor covering on normal 210s.
The car was basically a junker when the owner got it more than 30 years ago. So the paint is not original and the vinyl is a little bit nicer than it should be. Slapper bars, Cragar wheels, and the ability to run the quarter-mile in 12.4: every Tr-Five Chevy is slightly different and has a story to tell. That’s why people love these things and, this period-correct gasser has been valued at $50,000 to $75,000.