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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Came across a car these past few weeks that was originally an NZ delivered/sold car.

A 55 4-door, originally a V8, with Bel Air trim but with (curiously) 210 items on the rear quarter.

Current owner has had it for 20+ years and thinks it was originally a police vehicle. Maybe that's what inspired him to thrash it on the track – it was a 12 sec car! (Before the current project started, it has a glass front clip and boot lid.)

Any info would be welcomed.
 

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Hi John, I wouldn't stake my left one on it, but I was pretty sure that NZ assembled ones were 6's. Maybe police units were different.
 

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The majority of NZ new cars were sold here with 6 cylinders but some V8's
all were sold as Bel airs as far as I am aware
They were also 4 doors normally , unless someone imported one for themselves (highly unusual at the time but did actually happen) or they were a diplomats vehicle.
I can not register my car here as a 210 because it does not exist on the authorities books as they were never recognized or sold as anything but Bel air at the time.
It does not surprise me that a car would have a different trim item on it somewhere at all as a lot of funny things have happened here (and worldwide) over the years
I am not sure if the local Police had a V8 option at the time or indeed whether they actually had these cars available to them
as Ang said Thumper may be able to help on that one !
Sadly right hand drive NZ new Tri five Chevy's are now rare here
Would love to see photo's of it ??
 

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Hi guys
NZ new 55s are not my knowledge strength but I know exactly who to ask. I'll check it out with him. I did think that the main 55 market was 150 4dr sedan with 6 cylinder 235ci manual. I have seen an ex Samoan diplomatic corp BelAir 4dr sedan but it was still a six.
All of this contrasts with the 56 &57 which were all 4dr sedan BelAir V8 manuals.
I will check it out tomorrow further.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'll get a photo of the cowl tag and VIN tomorrow.
 

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I know that in Australia, we mainly relied on the locally assembled 210 6 cylinder, CKD ex Canada. I don't think any were exported to NZ. The only Bel Airs that were readily available here, were the 4 door Sports Sedan, ex Canada. As far as I know these were V8 manual (stick). I have a '57 RHD manual bellhousing in my '57, that I was told came from one of these imports.

I think all NZ Chevys were imports from Canada. Over the years, Kiwis I've talked to said that they hadn't seen a 210 until they visited Australia. Most of us had never seen a Bel Air until they were imported from the 70s on!

G
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
me too :tu
Saw the car again yesterday. No cowl tag, since the firewall had been modified. And no VIN. I lined up to take a pic, but it would not have told much of a story. Apparently it had been a drag car up until 20 years ago – candy red body and pearl white roof. And was names something or other "... Candy".
 

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From my knowledge of dealing with lots of Kiwis over the years, the 55's they got were 150 sedans with Bel Air fender & door moldings added. Then in '56 and '57 all they got were Bel Airs, so no 210's ever sold there.
I once had a pile of 210 beltline mouldings for 4 door sedans - could never sell them until a visiting Kiwi spotted them and traded them all for some similar BA mouldings - made us both happy. :)

Cheers, Des
 

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I checked with my mate who's better qualified than I regarding 55 NZ new cars.
He said that the normal model was the 55 4dr sedan Model 150, but there were some dealers that would import BelAirs. He said there were 7 x V8 and one 6 cyl 4dr Bel Air Sedans that he knew of. There were also a few 210s but he was sure they were not sold new, but probably came over from Australia, used.
Back in 1955, a buyer had to have overseas funds to be able to buy a new car, so only companies or wealthy owners used this means.
With regard to NZ Police cars, TriFive Chevrolets were never used, most of the Police cars were English (Humbers, Ford Zephyr and Vauxhall), I guess as some sort of deal with the British post war.
 

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With regard to NZ Police cars, TriFive Chevrolets were never used, most of the Police cars were English (Humbers, Ford Zephyr and Vauxhall), I guess as some sort of deal with the British post war.
Probably, like Australia, NZ is a member of the British Commonwealth, so import duties were probably lower. That's why in Aus our US cars came from Canada, and why we also had so many British cars.
 

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My 56 Belair was sold new in Christchurch in December 56, and was a V8 manual when new, now with 350 th350. My neighbour probably has one of the most original 56 Belairs that his grandfather bought in 58' that he has now restored. Curiously his is a 283 which is apparently the original engine!?!?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My 56 Belair was sold new in Christchurch in December 56, and was a V8 manual when new, now with 350 th350. My neighbour probably has one of the most original 56 Belairs that his grandfather bought in 58' that he has now restored. Curiously his is a 283 which is apparently the original engine!?!?
Most likely the engine was swapped out before that sale was made in 58.

The factory crossovers usually happened the other way around. In the US a good number of 57s came out with left-over 265 motors – repainted orange from the red used for 56 motors.
 
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