A Guide to 1956 Cars

From quick roadsters to trucks, wagons and a jeep, these are the best cars from 1956.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The
Chevrolet
Corvette is widely regarded as the top car of 1956, but it had a strong challenge from a shifty
Porsche
, not to mention some capable wagons, trucks, and a jeep.
The 1950s were a time of renaissance in the U.S., as the country emerged from World War Two stronger than ever. Its vibrant car culture was just one example of its strength, and the vehicles produced during that era still stand out in memory today. 
To help you find the best car from 1956,
Jerry
, the
car insurance
comparison
super app
, is here to inform you of all you need to know about the best cars from that banner year. Everything from these vehicles’ original specifications to what they cost today—some are affordable, and some are not! Many cars from 1956 are considered collectors items today, which can significantly boost their prices.
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The best cars of 1956

From rambunctious roadsters to fleet family wagons, these are the best cars of 1956.

The best car of 1956: Chevrolet Corvette

Estimated fair price range: $38,000 to 98,600
Powertrain: 12.3-liter V8 engine w/three-speed manual or Powerglide automatic transmission
What makes it special: 
Chevy’s Corvette was the talk of the town in 1956, with its fetching design and prodigious power. It featured an embossed hood, glass-fiber reinforced sculpted side panels, rear quarter windows, and a quick-change hard top, to really put out the vibe.
The ‘56 Corvette featured a powerful Turbo Fire12.3 L V8 engine with 225 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.Shifting gears on this supercar was easy with its slick three speed manual transmission, or the revelatory Powerglide automatic transmission.

The best sports car of 1956: Porsche 550 RS Spyder

Estimated fair price range: $35,000 (replica) to $5,000,000 (original, excellent condition)
Powertrain: 1.5-liter 4 cylinder engine w/four-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
The fine simplicity of the 1956
Porsche
550 RS Spyder is part of what makes it so special. It had an aerodynamic, sleek-yet-simple exterior, and its interior was equally spare. You’ll find three road gauges, two small seats, a steering wheel, a shift lever, barely a windshield…and that’s about it. But the 550 Spyder wasn’t meant for Sunday driving—it was meant for bombing down the roadway. It’s been called one of—if not the—best sports cars of the 1950s.
This fiercely simple Porsche sports a 1.5 L 4 cylinder engine with a four-speed manual transmission.  It also boasts 110 horsepower with a top speed of 140 miles per hour, which was insanely fast at the time. Not only was the Porsche 550 RS Spyder considered 1956’s best sports car, it was incredibly rare as well. Only 90 were built, and most of those were for racing—only 43 were built for regular driving.

The best family car of 1956: Ford Station Wagon Country Squire

Estimated fair price range: $32,300 to $102,000 
Powertrain: 4.7-liter V8 engine w/three-speed manual or Fordomatic automatic transmission
What makes it special: 
It might have been a standout ride, but the Porsche 550 RS Spyder wasn’t exactly made for big families. Luckily, you could find a much more family-friendly affair in the 1956
Ford
Station Wagon Country Squire. Who needs breathtaking speed when you can get mahogany wood panel-lined, family-ferrying bliss in a convenient (if giant) 4-door, 8 passenger station wagon?
The Country Squire was an automotive mule—its powerful Thunderbird 4.7 V8 engine sported 200horsepower gave you the power and room to haul your spouse, your kids, and their friends without breaking a sweat! The stowaway backseat also folded down to give you plenty of hauling space if you needed to bring home an extra-large batch of groceries.

The best luxury SUV of 1956: Buick Special Estate Wagon

Estimated fair price range: $18,800 to $73,300 
Powertrain: 4.2-liter Fireball V8 engine w/three-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
Ok, so “luxury SUV”might be pushing it, but the
Buick
Special Estate Wagon was probably 1956’s closest equivalent to a luxury sport utility vehicle. This spacious wagon had room to seat up to seven people, and its Fireball V8 engine boasted an impressive 220 horsepower and 319 lb-ft of torque.It was also surprisingly quick, reaching an impressive top speed of 102 miles per hour—no doubt key when rushing to drop your kids off at a friend’s house for the monthly Tiddlywinks Tournament (1956, people).
The Buick Special Estate Wagon had plenty of options to make you feel special—it featured a Panoramic windshield, air conditioning, deluxe steering wheel, heater and defroster, power seats, whitewall tires, and two- or three-tone exterior paint. And we almost forgot—a cigarette lighter was standard.

The best SUV of 1956: Willys Jeep CJ-5

Estimated fair price range: $8,100 to $33,800 
Powertrain:  FA-134 Hurricane inline-4 cylinder engine with T90 transmission
What makes it special: 
Inspired by the jeeps American GIs used to rumble around in during World War Two and the Korean War, Kaiser Industries’Willys Jeep CJ-5 was meant to bring a bit of that ruggedness to the adventurous stateside driver. 
Similar to the jeeps used overseas, the CJ-5 was spartan—you could get the basic open top model (for the grizzled outdoorsy types) or give off a more civilized air with the optional canvas or hardtop. The CJ-5 featured an FA-134 Hurricane inline-4 cylinder engine,with 60 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque.You’d get bucket front seats,a rear seat bench,a basic windshield, and a handbrake. The CJ-5 was made from heavy gauge sheet metal, so you know it was built to last.

The best truck of 1956: Ford F-100

Estimated fair price range: $41,100 to $96,242 
Powertrain:  Power King 4.4 L V8 engine with three-speed manual or 3-speed Fordomatic transmission
What makes it special: 
The 1956 Ford F-100 pickup truck was a novel one—it was the first to feature a wraparound windshield for improved visibility, as well as a full wraparound rear window. It also boasted an optional hydraulic power steering system. Another new option for the 1956 Ford F-100? Seatbelts.
The Ford F-100 sported a 4.4 LPower King V8 engine with 173 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque for all your towing and hauling needs. 

What cars came out in 1956?

The U.S. auto industry was approaching the peak of its power in the mid 1950s, with 1956 being a seminal year for both American and foreign carmakers. Here are some of the other most notable cars released in 1956.
Model
Vehicle type
Engine
Fair market range
Notes
Cadillac
Eldorado Generation 2
Sedan
6.0 L V8 engine
$61,700 to $184,300
A 2-door hardtop coupe with high-pointed tailfins
Ford
Thunderbird
Coupe
4.8-L V8
$42,400 to $100,000
A sporty, classic-long nose coupe designed to take on the Corvette
Ford
Fairlane
Sedan
5.1-L V8
$4,000 to $16,000
A comfortable, powerful cruiser ideal for long drives
Pontiac
Star Chief
Convertible
5.1-L V8
$6,800 to $23,800
Lucille Ball drove a convertible Star Chief in I Love Lucy
Mercury
Monterey
Sedan
5.1-L V8 engine
$6,750 to $36,000
One of the first to feature *Lifeguard Safety Equipment*, including safety door locks
Oldsmobile
Ninety-Eight
Sedan
5.3-L V8
$9,300 to $44,500
Known for its Starfire styling
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FAQ

With a top speed of 153 miles per hour, the Chevrolet Corvette was the fastest car on record in 1956, going 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds.
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