For many people, there is no better vehicle than a pickup truck.
It has the look that exudes characteristics like rugged and durable. This has helped it become a prime means of transportation for the American working class.
The rugged and durable nature isn’t just aesthetic, either. The pickup truck is designed to hold up to the toughest of applications and provide years or even decades of reliable use. Whether it’s tearing down a backroad trail to a camping site or hauling a bed full of materials for a construction job, the pickup truck is a true classic.
And while there are many names in the truck industry, Chevy stands out from the crowd. They’re one of the most revered names in all of trucks, and some people would even say they are the best option of all.
Today we’ll be putting the spotlight on a model that is over a half-century old. But to auto aficionados, that is a good thing, as it puts it in classic territory. Here is our spotlight of the 1956 Chevy truck.
A Look at Chevy’s Approach to Trucks of the Past
It should come as no surprise that Chevy has made a lot of changes to their line of vehicles over the years. As technology evolves in a general sense, so do the options available for creating automobiles. But, on the surface, the changes are most noteworthy.
That isn’t to say that beneath the hood a person wouldn’t be able to see some stark contrasts between today’s trucks and those from the 1950s. That’s far from the truth. But on the outside is where a lot of the immediate changes are visible.
The closest year to 1956 when an official new line of trucks was released was the Chevrolet Task Force of 1955. This model was the successor to the Advance Design trucks. Unlike their predecessors, the Task Force line made use of a more athletic front end, which contributed to both a sleeker appearance and a functionality that straddled the categories of truck and passenger car.
The years of 1955-1959 didn’t necessarily see the company discard the progress they had made in previous years – far from it. Instead, it saw them take the good points from these older vehicles and integrate them into the (then) new line. It may seem odd to call the 1956 model and those around it to be new – that’s because these trucks are new beloved for their antique nature.
The Task Force series, and the 1956 Chevy truck within, are all now considered to be a proverbial “holy grail” for collectors and hot rodders around the world. There’s a great amount of appeal in scoring one of these vehicles, both due to their looks and their old-world craftsmanship.
Let’s take a look at some of the noteworthy features you’ll find in a 1956 Chevy truck – are they products of design in a purposeful sense, or chosen more because of the time period? And do the features primarily affect looks, or performance, or both?
What Features Does the 1956 Chevy Truck Offer?
The 1956 Chevy truck belongs to a line of vehicles that could be referred to as the “second series,” as the Advanced Design series were carry overs from the previous line.
This model immediately turned heads – or more specifically, it made the drivers want to turn their heads thanks to the wraparound windshield. This feature is iconic on most older vehicles, and while it looks a little bit dated by today’s standards, it was a staple of many vehicles in the past.
The wraparound windshield wasn’t the only visible change that this line offered when compared to others before it. There’s also the fleetside bed. Those who swore by Chevy for their hauling needs long relied on fiberglass beds, and in a way, they still did with this model. The difference is the material was modified – and this is another example of how many of the design choices constitute classic choices enhanced to keep up with modern developments in the auto industry.
In this case, it was special fiberglass skin fabricated from the same manufacturer that made the bodies of early Corvettes. Moulded Fiberglass is a company that many people may not know by name alone. But for those who like the bed style of trucks in this era, they owe a lot to the specialty company from Ashtabula, Ohio.
The addition of fiberglass plating to the sides and tailgate of the box portion of the truck worked wonders for both looks and functionality. It still made the truck viable for hauling, and arguably even helped strengthen its durability. But it also offered a lot in the way of looks – it helped make Chevy one of the most iconic truck makers of that era. It’s a step that has paid off, and their image in the mind of auto aficionados remains today.
The body and interior are both built according to design standards of the era – where simplicity with style won out. This includes basic specs like bench seats, rubber floor mats, and unique upholstery trim.
What About the Drivetrain and Engine?
We could talk for paragraphs and paragraphs about the use of aesthetic choices in making the 1956 Chevy truck a great choice among auto buyers who are into classics, what about the drivetrain? After all, the engines and the components that use them are very important to any vehicle.
The Task Force era saw the 235.5-cu.in inline-six, and this was the only engine available with factory NAPCO 4×4 models. This engine is rugged and, despite its power and age, it is relatively inexpensive to rebuild.
They’re well-rounded, and the only real weak point they had was the cylinder head. It is known to crack, and that was a key feature that was improved in successive models. There’s also the base transmission, a three-speed manual with options for overdrive, heavy duty, and hydra-matic.
A two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive semi-floating axle was also a big favorite of the era, and this is another aspect of the truck that became iconic for old-world Chevy models. The chassis is a ladder type with a rail that measures 6×2 ¼ inch, and the brakes are drum style, a familiar choice for vehicles of that era.
One look at a listing of a Task Force era Chevy truck shows they’re extremely known for their grille style, unique trim, and smooth tailgate. Those who modify these trucks often throw in a variety of modifications, which can be a mix of both aesthetic and functional to bring this classic to modern standards without sacrificing the old-world charm.
The 1956 model is a popular choice for auto shows and collectors – not only is it hard to find, it offers a glimpse into some of the old-school design choices the company used to use.
What is the Legacy of the Chevy 1956 Model?
The Chevy 1956 is a classic truck for many reasons. As time has gone by, it has come to represent a crossroads in Chevy’s design style – mixing familiar design favorites from previous lines with improvements of the time. And in today’s world, it’s all wrapped in a bundle that screams classic.
Classic trucks aren’t just trucks that are old or out of production – they’re trucks that offer something unique to the buyer of today just as they would to the buyer of that era. For buyers in that era, they were getting a step up in production. Chevy trucks made in the early 1950s offered something their predecessors did not. And today, they do the same thing – but for different reasons.
If you walk into a car show that prides itself on classic models, or you find yourself touring the garage of a collector who wants a symbol of vehicle generations gone by, there is a good chance you could find the 1956 Chevy model somewhere within.
It may have had its flaws, even for the time, but it was still a solid truck that encompassed everything a pickup and a Chevy were meant to be.
And while it won’t exactly be super cheap to find one these days, let alone restore it, it is still possible. Even if you have to buy separate parts and create your own mix-matched version of this 1956 model, it could still be a great addition to any collection.
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