Yesteryears Automobiles: 1956

A Look Back at the History of the American Automobile

Michael Schlee 


With the American Auto Industry in a crisis like it has never faced before, I thought we could take a look back at the past 100 years of American Vehicles to see the highlights (and lowlights) of an industry on the edge of collapse.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

This is a new feature that will become a regular segment for this blog.


Key Developments 1956:
• The Chrysler group starts to use push button automatics and Hi-Fi record players in their cars.
• AMC produces two new engines, their own V8 and an air-cooled V4 weighing 200lbs.
• The V8 is king with the majority of vehicles sold in North America featuring one.
• Quad lighting up front is finally approved. It will be featured on vehicles by 1958.
• The last of the Nash Metropolitan Series 54’s were sold this year.


Top 5 New Models:
• Cadillac Sedan de Ville Hard Top – First four door hardtop from Cadillac, has the standard Cadillac 6.0L V8.
• Chevrolet Corvette – Restyled this year, power was 210HP or 225HP depending on options.
• Continental Mark II – 6.0L V8 making 285HP. Cost an astonishing $10 000.
• Desoto Adventurer – Top of the line model featured a very powerful 320HP V8.
• Studebaker Golden Hawk – Top of the line in the Hawk sports car family, powered by a V8.


Top 5 ‘Hottest’ Models:
• Chevrolet Bel Air – face lifted in 1956, sporting a powerful V8.
• Chrysler 300-B – 5.8L V8 making 355HP made this one fast car.
• Ford Thunderbird – Continued to sell well, still packing a V8.
• Packard Caribbean – Featured a 310HP V8 with a limited slip differential.
• Plymouth Fury – 240HP V8 and special paint made this car stand out.


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4 Responses to Yesteryears Automobiles: 1956

  1. Dan says:

    The 50’s had some truly beautiful vehicles roll off the line. Nowadays everything looks so bland. I would take the ’56 Chrylser 300 over the modern day chrylser 300 in a second.

  2. gary says:

    The White T-Bird identified as a 1956 is actually a 57. The blue one beside it is a 56. The 56 Birds featured the Continental spare tire on the rear and shared body panels with the 55. 57’s had larger fins and a different grill design, larger tail lights and wheel covers that differed from the previous models.

  3. Michael Schlee says:

    Thanks Gary, I made a ‘fix’ on the picture title.

  4. Nyland says:


    love to read more about your article, there’s so much good stuff in here. hope you update more article. thx

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