Americana refers to artifacts, or a collection of artifacts, related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States. Many kinds of material fall within the definition of Americana: paintings, prints and drawings; license plates or entire vehicles, household objects, tools and weapons; flags, plaques and statues, and so on. Patriotism and nostalgia play defining roles in the subject. The things involved need not be old, but need to have the appropriate associations.
The Atlantic described the term as “slang for the comforting, middle-class ephemera at your average antique store—things like needle-pointed pillows, Civil War daguerreotypes, and engraved silverware sets.” The term may be used to describe the theme of a museum or collection, or of goods for sale
I think that few would argue that the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is a classic piece of Americana in its design and reflection on what some might call the golden age of automobiles.
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
For 1955, Chevrolet’s full-size model received all new styling and power. The 1955 Bel Air was 3,456 lb (1,568 kg) and 15 ft (4.6 m) long. It was called the “Hot One” in GM’s advertising campaign. Chevrolet’s styling was crisp, clean and incorporated a Ferrari-inspired grille. Bel Airs came with features found on cars in the lower models ranges plus interior carpet, chrome headliner bands on hardtops, chrome spears on front fenders, stainless steel window moldings, and full wheel covers.
Models were further distinguished by the Bel Air name script in gold lettering later in the year. For 1955 Chevrolets gained a V8 engine option and the option of the 2 speed Powerglide automatic, or a standard three speed Synchro-Mesh manual transmission with optional overdrive.
The new 265 cu in (4,340 cc) V8 featured a modern, overhead valve high compression, short stroke design that was so good that it remained in production in various displacements for many decades. The base V8 had a two-barrel carburetor and was rated at 162 hp (121 kW), and the “Power Pack” option featured a four-barrel carburetor and other upgrades yielding 180 bhp (130 kW). Later in the year, a “Super Power Pack” option added high-compression and a further 15 bhp (11 kW). “Idiot” lights replaced gauges for the generator and oil pressure.
This was not the first Chevrolet to be installed with a V8 engine. The first Chevrolet with a V8 engine was introduced in 1917 called the Series D which was built for two years, and was manufactured before Chevrolet joined General Motors.
Motor Trend magazine gave the Bel Air top marks for handling. Popular Mechanics reported acceleration for a V8 Bel Air with Powerglide as being 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, plus a comfortable ride, and good visibility. On the other hand, the horn ring blocked some of the speedometer, regular gasoline made the engine knock, and the first V8 engines off the line burned too much oil. Front legroom was 43.1″. Brakes were 11″ drums.
A new option for V8-equipped 1955 models was air conditioning, with outlets on each side of the dashboard; a heavy-duty generator was included on cars equipped with this option; in 1955 and 1956, air conditioning could be installed on cars ordered with the standard three-speed manual transmission, overdrive or Powerglide, but from 1957 onward, an automatic transmission (or minus that, 4-speed manual transmission) was a pre-requisite option.
This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. Exposure settings were at 1/160 second, f/10 and 400 ISO.
In response to WordPress Daily Prompt – Rebuild.