- '57 Chevy Gasser

Spotting Guide: Tri 5 Chevys

The differences between '55, '56 & '57 Chevys

Tri-5 Chevys are some of the most popular body styles in the Resto-Mod and Antique(Stock) scenes. Ever confuse the years on these classic Chevys? Well, let's take a look at a few of the more obvious differences between the three years. I'm not going to get bogged down in the minor differences like ashtrays, interior window rings or engine crank strokes, just the things that will help you confidently identify the three different years of this popular car!

Photo courtesy of: Old Car Weekly

Photo courtesy of: Old Car Weekly


All new for 1955! Notice the grille in this car. The key to identifying most American made early cars is all about the grille! The rectangular grille with rounded corners is the thing that instantly tells you this is a '55 Chevy! Also, notice that this car has no rear tail fins.

Photo courtesy of: Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of: Wikipedia


The differences between the '55 and the '56 in the grille are huge! Notice the '56 grille has no rounded corners, larger parking lights under the headlights and chrome trim that wraps around to the fenders. '56's also have no rear tail fins.

Photo courtesy of: Super Chevy

Photo courtesy of: Super Chevy


This is the most dramatic difference of the 3 years. Most noticeable is the center grille bar, with parking/turn signal lights. The bumper is also more shapely and includes rubber bumperettes. Larger headlight rings are present. This cars rear tail fins are easily seen from the front of the car.

3 Points of Interest:

Point #1

1955 was the debut of Chevrolets OHV V-8 engine. Chevrolet had been using the same straight 6 engine in both their car and truck line ups since 1929! This new V-8 engine would come to be known as the Small Block Chevy, or SBC. Chevrolet would produced a variant of the same '55 engine until 2003. Once the final numbers were added up, over 90 million of them were made.

Point #2

In 1956 Chevy spent over a million dollars coming up with a new design for 1957. They wanted the car to look more like a Cadillac. That's were the tail fins came from!

Point #3

Oil filters were not standard equipment for the 1955 model year.

Photo courtesy of: Tri Five Nationals Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of: Tri Five Nationals Facebook page.

A Car Show of Their Own!

Every August the American Tri Five Association holds the Tri Five Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY. The show includes drag racing and they even give away a turn key car. These Chevys are truly, three of the most popular year cars in the United States!

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Comments (9)

  • Points if anyone knows the popular nickname for the 'rubber bumperettes'.

      2 years ago
  • With regards to the oil filter point, it was the 265 cu in motor that had no filter, and that motor was fitted to all three models 283 cu in and up small blocks had a filter.

      2 years ago
  • Great little write up, clear and to the point!

      2 years ago
  • Thanms Chris, I've been struggling with this when I've spotted these cool Chevs - this will be my bible from hereon!

      2 years ago
    • No problem! Tomorrow I've got one about every Ford car from '28 to '41, Thursday it's Chevy cars from '37 to '48 and Friday it's Fords from '49 to '51.

        2 years ago