This is the first generation of Chevy Bel Air. In 1950, Chevrolet started to produce the hard top Bel Air on the Deluxe Styleline and named it Chevrolet Bel Air Deluxe Styleline. In 1953, Chevrolet renamed its Deluxe Series to become the Chevy Bel Air. The Bel Air sold in its first year 76,662 as the $1741 car was a new concept with few buyers willing to take the risk. The car weighed 1,463 kgs where the front suspension was independent (was called “knee-action” technology).
The 53 Bel Air was much different in body panels, front and rear ends and was distinguished by the chrome stripe that was added along the side of the car from the front to the rear bumper. The 53 Bel Air was the first with a curved one piece windshield instead of the split window in the earlier models. The 1954 model was basically the same except for some modifications in the grille and the taillights. The 53 model had an option of power steering while the 54 model added power brakes, power seat positioner and power front windows.
Bel Air was distinguished by the chromed interior on the lower side of the dashboard, horn ring and full rounded wheel covers which added to the design. Bright metal double moldings with series name and crest on the rear fender, extra-wide window reveals on sedans, windshield pillar covered and saddle moldings on sport coupe and convertable. 1953 and 1954 Bel Airs could be ordered in convertible, hardtop coupe, 2 or 4 door sedans. The Bel Air had a 115″ wheelbase and the car length in the 50, 51 and 52 models was 197.5″ , but in the 53 and 54 models was 196.5″.
The first generation of Bel Air had two different engines. Both were in line 6 cylinders (I6) with over head valves (OHV) which were called “Blue flame” equipped with hydraulic valve lifters and aluminum pistons. First was the 3.5 L engine with manual three speed transmission generating 115 HP with solid lifters and splash plus pressure lubrication. The second engine called “Powerglide” was the bigger 3.9 L with automatic two speed transmission that generated 125 HP with hydraulic lifters and full pressure lubrication. The “Powerglide” was the first automatic transmission to be used in a low-price automobile. The “Blue flame 125″ engine teamed with the “Powerglide” made the most powerful engine in Chevrolet at that time. Both engines offered relatively high performance with high fuel efficiency due to the high compression rate of 7.5 to 1. The were equipped with a 30″ muffler that decreased the engine noise and made the car quieter than its rivals. The Full compression lubrication technology granted protection against wear in every vital point of the engine in both “Blue flame” engines in the 1954 Bel Air providing oil under control pressure supply to all crankshaft and camshaft bearings, valve mechanism and timing gear. Cylinder walls and wrist pins are lubricated by pressure mist.
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