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In Photos: Chevy vs. Ford Tri-Five Shootout!

Okay, it's more just a gathering of mid-’50s cars, but still.

John GilbertWriterTim BernsauPhotographer

Okay it's not really a shootout, so let's get past the tabloid-type headlines purposely written to boil the blood of Chevy and Ford fans and take a look through unbiased eyes.

I'm just a mercenary when it comes to car ownership; at any given time I'll have a Ford, a Chevy, or a Chrysler product in my fleet. STREET RODDER Feature Editor Tim Bernsau and I discovered as soon as we arrived at the Minnesota Street Rod Association's Back to the '50s Weekend there were a lot of Tri-Five Chevys and Fords in attendance. The lead photo shows a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria parked in front of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. The 1955 Ford Crown Vic-offered with a transparent roof—was a harbinger of 1956 styling, with a lower roofline than the 1955 Ford Victoria two-door hardtop. In 1956, the Crown Victoria and the Victoria shared the lowered roofline. With its hood emblem still intact, the '55 Chevy behind represents the only year it lacked a "V" beneath the emblem to indicate a V-8 engine was under the hood. In addition, a very tasty '50s/'60s-style custom with major modern upgrades was in attendance and debuted at the event; look for the 2019 ARP/STREET RODDER Road Tour Presented by Ford Performance 1955 Ford at the upcoming Syracuse Nationals. (It's the tasty two-tone green machine pictured below.)

The Ford versus Chevrolet battle really heated up after World War II. Ford had been running its Flathead V-8 and Chevrolet its OHV (overhead-valve) six-cylinders, but both found common ground of sorts by introducing OHV V-8 engines. Two of the more unusual Tri-Five Chevy and Ford examples we found at Back to the '50s were a shorty 1955 Chevy sedan-delivery and a 1955 Ford Mainline utility coupe, which was better known in Australia as a ute. (Speaking of which, there has to be someone left alive that can tell us why some Australian 1955 Ford utes have an American 1955 Ford grille and others Canadian-market 1955 Ford Meteor grilles.) It's not all that unusual to find a short-wheelbase Tri-Five Chevy—they're at almost every event we attend—but finding a shorty sedan-delivery was rare.

My theory for the shorty's popularity is that—even if the gallery shows four-door sedans were in ample supply and looking pretty good at the show—there was a time when a four-door was the last thing anyone would think of as cool. So while I've never asked anyone why they chopped their Tri-Five Chevy sedan, I'm going to guess because they despised the nerdiness of a four-door so much they broke out the Sawzall. There was no such thing as a 1955 Chevy four-door sedan-delivery, so who knows why the owner decreased the wheelbase on that one—maybe he needed it to fit inside a garden shed. Anyway, on to the photos—enjoy!