Chevrolet Bel Air marks several milestones in American automotive industry. It's a reflection of changing consumer taste over time and steep improvement in overall vehicle manufacturing standard in the United States. Check out our full review here.
Chevrolet produced Bel Air as a full-size vehicle between 1950 and 1975 in the U.S. Chevrolet Bel Air being featured in several timeless Hollywood blockbusters; it quickly picked a reputation for being a movie start vehicle. The initial model was a two-door hardtop and was produced till 1952. Various other body styles were continued until the line was discontinued in 1975.
There were seven distinct generations of Chevrolet Bel Air. The first generation being one of the most sought collection cars of modern day, there are several masterpieces scattered through the entire line. Even after Chevrolet decided to discontinue Bel Air in the U.S., Canada kept manufacturing Chevrolet Bel Air through 1981 for its domestic market. So, yeah, a Bel Air as new as 1981 is possible and not necessarily a fake.
1950-1954: First Generation
The revolutionary hardtop style on a convertible made the Chevrolet Bel Air an instant hit. It literally swept the American automotive industry and took off with a flying start. Buyers were a bit skeptical with the 1950 and perhaps with the 1951 model too but the rest of the first generation was a sheer success story for Chevrolet.
1955-1957: Second Generation
GM marketed the second generation of Chevrolet Bel Air as ‘the hot one’. Receiving a new styling and more powerful engine under the hood, the second generation was offered on a wide range of body styles and engine options were abundant too: up to a 4.6-liter V-8 engine was available.
1958: Third Generation A.K.A The Weak Link
Visually appealing and packing a punch under the hood, the third generation of Chevrolet Bel Air seemed like a sure success. Consumer response was fair too until this model was criticized for being less safe in case of a side impact. GM responded by redesigning and moving on to a safer fourth generation.
1959-1960: Fourth Generation
A completely redesigned Chevrolet Bel Air: the change was so vivid that it almost felt like an entire new line. GM did its best to regain confidence of its customer base. With lower headlights and streamlined exterior body, this is one of the finest collectibles of modern days but consumers back then didn’t respond too well prompting another quick revision from GM.
Sixth and Seventh Generations:
The more stable two generations were probably the last two for Chevrolet Bel Air. Sixth generation was in production between 1965 and 1970 with fairly decent market share. In 1971, the seventh and last generation of Chevrolet Bel Air was introduced. With demand for more sporty and powerful vehicles spiking, Chevrolet started to experience a declining sales. In 1975 GM announced it won’t continue producing Chevrolet Bel Air and that was the end of Bel Air era for American automotive industry.
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