1955 Chevrolet Engine and Transmission Display Set Headed to Auction
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.