How Do I Tell the Difference Between 1955 & 1956 Chevrolet?

by Kyle McBride

A sure-fire way to distinguish between a 1955 and a1956 Chevy Bel Air is to look through the windshield at the vehicle identification number stamped on the dashboard on the driver side. If the fourth digit is a "5," it's a 1955. If the digit is a "6," you know it's a 1956. For those times when you don't have the luxury of standing next to some guy's vintage car studying the VIN before he heads in your direction in a huff because you're uncomfortably close to his baby, there are discernible clues in the body styling.

At a Glance

If all you get is a quick glimpse as the Bel Air whizzes by on the road, look at the front grille and parking lights as it approaches and then the taillights as it goes away. On the 1955 Bel Air, the front grille is below and between the headlights with the parking lights mounted under the headlights in the front face of each fender. On the 1956 Bel Air, the parking lights are still mounted under the headlights, but they're in the grille because the grille spans the front of the car. As the car passes you and heads on up the road, note that the taillights on the 1955 Bel Air are smooth. On the 1956, the taillight lenses are pointy and bullet-shaped.

Fill 'Er Up

If you can see the gas-filler door on the driver-side rear fender, it's a 1955. On the 1956 model, the door hides beneath the driver-side taillight, which is hinged.

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