Images courtesy of the NAHC Detroit Library and the GM Media Archives.
Chevrolet’s big news for 1956 was the restyled Corvette. The previous year’s wire mesh covered headlamps were gone. Deeply inverted coves blended into the doors and front fenders. Quarter panels gently sloped downward and were topped off with a recessed chrome pod and small circular tail lamps. Exhaust pipes were changed to exit from within the rear bumpers. From every angle, the Corvette looked fabulous.
Full size Chevrolets received gently scalloped rear wheel openings and new tail lamps. The fuel filler was moved from the quarter panel to a hidden pocket behind the left tail lamp assembly. The front end was freshened up with a restyled grille and parking lamps. A four-door hardtop was added to the lineup.
Chrome was beginning to pile up at Pontiac division’s offerings. The front end included a bolder grille. Remaining changes included front bumpers with built-in bumper guards, new tail lamps and side moldings. Tail lamps had a “hat-like” brim and pleasing-to-the-eye quarter panel spear that ran forward several feet. The stylish Safari model continued.
Buick’s styling improvements were immediately noticeable. The front-end sheet metal was angular. The grille and hood were mildly peaked, with the hood featuring a shovel-shaped hood emblem. Tail lamp housings were re-sculptured and sat nearly flush to the quarter panel for a more luxurious look. Twin chrome spears ran down the deck lid. As customers demanded more interior color choices, Buick responded with a litany of available colors.
Ford’s Lincoln division was a big player with the launch of its Continental Mark II 2-door hardtop. The Mark II was a bold move to test the level of interest for a nearly-$10,000 automobile at a time when the typical domestic car retailed for about $2,000. It was beautifully styled and had a European flair. Headlamps were deeply frenched into the front fenders. From the side, the extra long look was courtesy of a horizontal body line that ran the length of the vehicle, gently kicking up at the quarter panel. A well-proportioned but imitation spare tire holder graced the deck lid.
It wasn’t just the Mark II that brought Lincoln division to the limelight. The Lincoln Premier was a sight to be had, with angular tail lamps, exhausts that exited the rear bumper and a sleek body style that was second to none. Lincoln was on a roll.
While keeping the same body shell, Ford’s Mercury brand made do with an updated grille and tail lamps. Body side trim revisions allowed for exciting two tone combinations.
Chrysler Corporation, flush with success in 1955, made minimal styling changes. Its contribution to beauty was the exciting Plymouth Fury. From front to rear, it was part of the forward look of Chrysler. Quarter panels included gently rising fins. It was the year that Alcoa Aluminum partnered with Plymouth to supply the gold anodized aluminum side trim.
Looking Back At 1956:
Average salary – $4,450
Elvis releases his first hit, “Heartbreak Hotel”
First hard drive invented by IBM
Dwight D. Eisenhower re-elected President
Oscar for Best Motion Picture – Around the World in 80 Days
Marilyn Monroe gets married
The 1950s Timeline
Introduction - 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957 - 1958 - 1959
Published Dec 31st, 1969