By the time Happy Days reduced the 1950s to a caricature once and for all, the legend of the 1955-’57 Chevrolet lineup had already proceeded itself. Known as the “tri-fives” by their legions of fans, the Chevys became some of the most beloved cars ever built. But alongside “I Like Ike” buttons, Elvis, and your grandmother’s I Love Lucy coffee mug, the tri-fives are nowadays a relic: a cartoon that reduces a vibrant and complex decade into a nice, neat, rolling chrome box.
Go any deeper than that, and they become a paradox. They’re cars that our parents and grandparents revere, relics that can easily fetch six figures at auction, yet are still plentiful enough that you can still find a basket case for a few thousand dollars on Craigslist.
Because like most icons, the story of the tri-fives has long been overshadowed by the legend. Simply put, they were instrumental in transforming Chevrolet into the juggernaut it is today. With their tasteful styling, affordable price, and cutting-edge technology, they helped Chevy make up for decades of lost ground, established it as a performance powerhouse, and transformed the way millions of Americans think about cars.