Collectible '50s Hot Rods

There's a romance around '50s hot rods that few other cars can claim. Seeing one conjures images of a simpler time in America, of young people cruising to the malt shop or drive in, or barreling down narrow roads in an impromptu drag race. The sound of those powerful engines is music to a gearhead's ears.

There are several vehicles that were popular in the -50s, and some of those are extremely popular collectibles today. These cars are difficult to come by. If when you find them, they are expensive, especially if they have been completely restored.

  • '55 Chevy: In 1952, Edward Nicolas Cole was given the job of designing a new Chevy for 1955. He designed it with the new "Motoramic" styling, getting rid of the old Chevy styling. The '55 Chevy was released in 1954 with a 256-cubic-inch V8 engine and new styling and engineering. The new Chevy came in two flavors: the Bel-Air 2-door hardtop, and the Bel-Air Sport Coupe.
  • '57 Chevy: In 1957, America's dream car was the '57 Chevrolet Bel-Air Convertible. It has been in high demand since it was released to the public, and is still one of the most sought-after vehicles among car buffs. The '57 Chevyt got a new design; the body is longer and lower than the '55 and '56 Chevys. It also had a new Turboglide transmission and more horsepower, thanks to its small-block V8 engine. This car came in one flavor: the Bel-Air Sport Sedan. You could buy a hard top or a convertible. Both are prized by collectors, partly for their style and partly for a generous engine compartment that allows almost unlimited possibilities for customization.
  • '59 Corvette: The '59 Corvette isn't much different from the 1958 model, which is also popular among collectors. The '59 came standard with seat belts, dual exhaust, an outside rearview mirror, an electrical clock and a tachometer. Engine fans gravitate toward the '59, because one of the engine options has 250 horsepower and can reach 60 MPH in 7.8 seconds, with a top speed of 124 mph. The standard engine is a 283-cubic-inch engine that could be purchased in four configurations in addition to the standard engine:
    • Standard: 230 horsepower at 4800 rpm
    • Option 1: 245 horsepower, two four-barrel carburetors
    • Option 2: 250 horsepower, Rochester fuel injection
    • Option 3: 270 horsepower, two four-barrel carburetors
    • Option 4: 290 horsepower, Rochester fuel injection

A stylish design is part of the appeal of these convertible 'Vettes, but the engine makes all the difference. The higher-horsepower models were among the fastest production cars made for the general public during this era.

All of these hot rods are difficult to find. If there is one in your family, you should hang on to it and do what you can to keep it in its original condition. 

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