1955 Chevrolet Engine and Transmission Display Set Headed to Auction

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1955 Chevrolet Motorama Display Set

Centerpiece of this unique collection is the first-ever small block Chevrolet V8, built to power the 1955 Corvette.

If you want to buy a gorgeous Chevrolet Camaro, Corvette, Bel Air or any other model from pretty much any brand in the history of the automotive world, a Mecum auction is a good place to start. These high-profile auctions have become the go-to for buyers and sellers of new and classic cars, but they don’t just auction off vehicles. At every Mecum auction, there are entire rooms of non-vehicular items and while flipping through the listings for the upcoming Harrisburg auction later this month, we found something that any Chevrolet enthusiast or classic car collector would cherish; although it won’t come cheap.

A pair of engines and a trio of transmissions which were built and mounted on stands to display at the General Motors Motorama events around the country back in 1955 will be sold to the highest bidder, but this isn’t just a cool, old automaker display. Included in this collection is the 265-cubic inch V8 that introduced the world to the small block Chevy, arguably making this one of the most important engine display stands that the company has ever showcased.

1955 General Motors Motorama

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, General Motors held a series of events that were kind of like a miniature auto show, allowing the company to show off their latest and greatest products at specific points around the country. The first Motorama was actually held in 1949 and the last was in 1961, so the 1950s were really the strongest period for the unique events.

Turbo-Fire V8

For the 1955 Motorama events in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, General Motors was showing off a wide variety of vehicles, but more importantly, the company was showing off its new, 265-cubic inch, overhead valve V8 engine. This mill, named the “Turbo-Fire”, was built to bring more punch to the Corvette, but it was also offered in the Bel Air sedan. In the Corvette, it offered 195 horsepower, while the Bel Air had three different versions that offered 162, 180 and 195 horsepower.

This engine thrust Chevrolet to the head of the performance class, but more importantly, the Turbo-Fire 265 was the first of a long, long line of small block Chevy V8s that would be some of the leading engines in the American for decades. The 265-cubic inch mill introduced the small block Chevy and this display introduced that 265. When hundreds of thousands of people attended Motorama events with a hope of getting a look at the Corvette’s new V8, this was the exact engine that they were all admiring, and you could own it.

Other Displays

While the Turbo-Fire V8 is clearly the keystone of this collection, it is joined by four other items. This includes three transmissions and an inline-six, all of which are cut-away similarly to the V8, allowing show-goers a chance to see the inner workings of each piece.

Chevrolet Inline-Six

This entire collection was discovered in Logan, Utah in rough shape, but General Motors purchased the display and sent it to the Chevrolet Creative Services department, where both engines and all three transmissions were completely disassembled and fully refinished. The result is a five-piece spread from 1955 that looks like it is new, and there is no question that this lineup will be the centerpiece of someone’s personal collection.

1955 Chevrolet Transmission

That being said, such a rare, important piece of American automotive history won’t come cheap, with the expected selling price to be in the range of $125,000 to $150,000. However, for a diehard collection of General Motors, Chevrolet, Corvette or Bel Air items, this is a lot that will be hard to rival in terms of uniqueness and collectability.

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"Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500," says Patrick Rall, a lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years. "He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car – a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16 while I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

"Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group. While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

"Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never “work” a day in your life," adds Rall, who has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now automotive journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular auto websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

"I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

"My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

"Being based on Detroit," says Rall, "I never miss the North American International Auto Show, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Roadkill Nights, along with spending plenty of time raising hell on Detroit's Woodward Avenue with the best muscle car crowd in the world.

Rall can be contacted at [email protected]

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