Chevrolet’s chief engineer, Ed Cole, developed what would become the most iconic of V8 power plants, the “small block”. At 4.3 litres Chevy’s ground-breaking V8 gave the line-up much needed zest and zip. The V8 was quickly enlarged to 4.7 litres and progressively expanded all the way to 6.6 litres over the next 15 years. It is still the design template for GM V8s today. As the year progressed Chevy ads started calling the ’55 “The Hot One”, referring to its V8 performance and its record-breaking sales. Americans bought a staggering 1.7 million of them that year. By comparison Ford sold 1.45 million. And yet, despite their outward show of confidence, the executives at GM had much riding on the success of their new car. Their apprehension was well founded. From 1949 to 1954 Ford’s market share had increased to the point where Chevrolet only outsold Ford in 1954 by a mere 20,000 units. Consequently, pressure was on the styling and engineering teams at Chevrolet to come up with something special for 1955 and beyond. Previous page: Clare MacKichan, Chevrolet styling boss, talks with Bob Caderet. Joe Schemansky has his back to the camera. Completed 1956 Chevrolet and the 1957 hardtop clay are in the background. 13