Friday, December 18, 2015

What in the World is a 1955 Cameo Chevy Truck?

Chevy Cameo

What in the World is a 1955 Cameo Chevy Truck?
-Alan Arnell

One of my favorite activities of my classic car experiences is learning about the Tri-Five Chevys made available to the buying public. Now, even your most casual observer has heard of a BelAir or even a 210. But, try them to point out the difference between a 1955 and 1956 Chevrolet, well, that is another blog. But, when, I for the first time saw a Cameo Chevrolet in truck in 2005, I was greatly pleased.

The Cameo was the last model make of Tri-Five Chevys I was to witness, except for Tri-Five Concept Cars. The time it took for me to finally spot a Cameo, like a birder searching for a blue nose finch, was more than likely caused by the relative low number of Cameos sold by Chevrolet.

The Cameo's price was a large part also responsible for the low sales numbers. Nevertheless, the
truck's impact is still felt in today's truck designs and options. The Cameo's design showed the way for Detroit to see that bringing passenger-car styling elements into a truck was a popular idea.

A new task force in the 50's developed the 1955 Cameo. The Cameo's design was called the “Modern Design for Modern Hauling.” The so called modern design was the first ever luxury truck.

Despite the higher average sales price, by 1956 more and more trucks buyers liked the luxury truck
features such as: copious amounts of chrome, more interesting car interior fabrics and patterns. The truck had a short production run from 1955 to 1958, however the Cameo design was still able to sell 10,000 units.

The truck's sculpted-iconic flat fiberglass bed panels, deluxe BelAir interior, car style wheel covers
along with a Ferrari inspired egg crate grill made the Cameo very unique. Not to be out done, designers even made the flat sides of the rear bed from fiberglass. The fenders, taillights and spare tire carrier were made of fiberglass as well. For looks rather than utility, the designers added 1/3 more window glass than the previous 3100 series.

Like other light duty Chevy trucks of the 1955 model year, the Cameo had a new frame, longer leaf springs, a wider track and a shorten wheelbase that was now 114 inches.

A V-8 engine was an available upgraded for the Cameo. The V-8 was a new 264 CI engine that produced 145 HP. Although not as powerful of an engine as was installed in the passenger-cars of 1955, the new engine was a vast improvement over its previous year's 3100 series. The 3100 of the year before sported the old “Stovebolt Six. The 1955 Cameo's other engine of choice was a straight six. The new straight six had six more horses under the hood, bringing the HP rating to 123HP.

The Cameo buyer could also buy the truck with a “Custom Cab” improvement. The improvements included a wrap around back lights that could replace optional corner windows. The seats could be upgraded to foam padded seats. Chrome knobs, dual armrests and sun visors were also available, as were chromed headlight bezels, grill, bumper guards, and a hood ornament.

Paint was also apart of the great equation, as Cameo were painted in Bombay Ivory with red accents.

Unique to the Cameo was that the tailgate swung down held by cables that retracted into small hidden spring loaded pulleys.

If not not to be the best known truck in the late 50's, to me at least, the cameo was one of the most important pickups for future model years designs and options. Arguably, the Cameo was one of the best-looking pickup trucks ever made.

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