For 1959, the Impala had its own nameplate; it was no longer an option package for the Bel Air. The new model was available as a four-door sedan, four-door coupe, two-door coupe, two-door hard-top, or a convertible. The sheet metal radically changed, and now shared some body panels with the low-end Buick and Oldsmobile.
Chevrolet revised the “X” frame chassis with a rail up each side of the frame for increased side impact protection. The body now sat three inches lower on a 1½ inch longer wheelbase, with the body shell two inches wider than the previous year. As a sign of the times, the Impala put on a few pounds. The rear deck was huge with the tail fins now horizontal and the taillights long, horizontally configured teardrops.
There was a shortened roof line in ’59 for the complete Impala lineup, while the hard-top model had a sporty “flying wing” roof. The back of the greenhouse on all units was a wraparound, pillar-free, compound curved piece of glass making the rear window huge, but the driver had excellent visibility, even on the blind side.
The top-of-the-line Impala featured many uptown interior options, including door-mounted armrest front and rear, two sliding sun visors, crank-operated no-draft windows, with a Flexomatic six-way power seat available. The dashboard has all the gauges somewhat reset and under an over-hang to prevent glare. In addition to the standard gauge cluster, the owner could order an electric clock or a Speedminder. This unusual option was a reminder buzzer that sounded when the driver exceeded the speed selected.
The Turbo Fire 283-cubic-inch (4.6L) V8 was the basic engine in ’59, and it put out 185hp (138 kW). The sticker price for the convertible was $2,967. If you needed more power, a four-barrel carburetor option could produce 190hp (220 kW).
Although if you liked to go fast, there was a further power option of W Series Turbo-Thrust. This was a big-block 348-cubic-inch (5.7L) V8 that delivered up to 315hp (235 kW) for ultimate performance. The thrifty-minded folks could opt to special order the Blue Flame six-cylinder version which saved $118 and retailed for around $2,849, but you also got a lifetime of savings at the gas pump with this choice. The transmissions available in ’59 were the basic equipment close-ratio, three-speed manual; an optional three-speed manual with overdrive, as well as a four-speed manual, and the Turbo-Glide automatic.
The 1960 Impala now had four body styles available: a hard-top sport sedan, a sport coupe, a convertible coupe, and a four-door sedan, but the lead model was the Impala convertible for $2,847. The designers began to steer toward a more conservative look with the large teardrop taillights upgraded to three rounded, smaller units on each side. The front fascia also changed with the large air intakes above the headlights gone completely for a less flashy look. The Impala flaunted its status with a lot more chromed trimming than the lesser Bel Air or Biscayne.
348-cubic-inch283 was still available and could produce from 170 to 230hp (130 to 240 kW), offering a compromise between economy and performance.
There was no fuel injection, but a new option was cruise control, making the buzzer option from the previous year obsolete but very collectible. Oshawa Canada produced right-hand drive models with a mirror image dash configuration for South African, New Zealander, and Australian Impala markets although the Australian-bound versions were assembled by hand at the Holden plant.
Bill Devin built himself a reputation as a racer in the late '40's and later won respect as a quality manufacturer of high speed performance race car body shells, His company was Devin Enterprises, based in El Monte, California. The company produced up to 100 fiberglass body shells per week towards the end of the 1950's which were shipped throughout the world. The roadster pictured here is "period correct" and very rare with only 16 units produced. With a 283 Corvette engine under the hood, Road and Track recorded a 0-60 time of seven seconds, the quarter mile in 14 seconds and rated its top speed at 130 mph.
MCF thanks Gateway Classic Cars for the images displayed here.
The Dodge Charger arrived late in the 1966 model year although it was in the planning stages since the early ’60s with a prototype displayed throughout 1965 to test the public’s response to a new mid-sized personal luxury car. The Charger is on the Chrysler “B” platform with the Coronet, and they also shared the same chassis and front end sheet metal, but the Charger looked unlike anything else in the Dodge fleet. The new Charger sported an eye-catching fastback roofline, a departure from the ordinary for Dodge, but it did appear similar to the earlier released Rambler Marlin, on the outside.
It was luxuriously equipped with an entry level price of $3,100, substantially more than a Coronet and about $250 more than the Marlin with a similar fastback roofline. These two vehicles looked almost identical, and the press compared them with each other, with the late arrival surprise by Dodge being called a “nice looking Marlin.” The Rose Bowl Parade opened with a 1966 Charger, and Dodge introduced it as the new leader in the Dodge Rebellion that year. The 1966 and the ’67 were the only two years to have the triangular Fratzog emblem displayed on the grille as well as the trunk latch.
The ’66 Charger had hidden headlights, the first time a Chrysler product used this feature since the 1942 DeSoto. The lights rotate a full 180 degrees so whether open or closed, they looked like one continuous piece with the electric razor-style grille. The six-lamp, full-width taillight configuration began where the roofline ends and the name Charger had chromed lettering emblazoned across the lamps.
The sporty Charger was practical, and the upscale sedan has four bucket seats with a full-length center console. The buckets in the rear fold down and the console pad folded forward, offering the storage area of a station wagon. The driver had a simulated wood-grain steering wheel, 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, a 6000 rpm tachometer, and a shift stick mounted in the console. The dash had a full complement of gauges for fuel, alternator, and temperature in all units, but air conditioning or a clock were only available as options. The four, round, chrome-edged dash pods for the Charger didn't have regular bulbs; they were electroluminescence ones.
The first Charger wasn’t marketed as a high-performance muscle car, but the base came with the 318-cubic-inch (5.2L) two-barrel, or you could option the 361-cubic-inch (5.9L) two-barrel, or the 383-cubic-inch (6.3L) with a four-barrel. The 426 (7.0L) street Hemi made its cameo appearance just a few months before the Dodge introduced the Charger, and the owner could order this engine in 1966.
There were 37,344 Chargers made in ’66, with only 468 of those powered by the 426 Hemi. The base transmission is the three-speed mounted on the column, but a four-speed standard transmission or the three-speed automatic options were in the console.
For 1967, the Charger signals are now in the fender and the easiest way to tell the two years appart on the outside. Inside, a regular-sized console replaced the full-length console, and if chosen, the center part doubled as a third front seat but the column shift was optional. Another new item for ’67 was a vinyl roof, and as for power, the 440 Magnum rounded out the options list. The sales dropped to 15,788 units in ’67 with only 27 of those equipped with the 426.
The sixth generation Plymouth Belvedere is on Chrysler's "B" mid-sized body platform. This model could be powered with a light duty 273 cu in ((4.5 L) engine although there are four larger engine power options on the table including the 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi V8 and these would be bolted to three speed automatic or a three speed standard transmission on a factory correct Belvedere. The most powerful version of the Belvedere is an icon of the muscle car era and badged as the GTX .
Our thanks to Gateway Classic Cars for these images
A look at the streets of Detroit would probably have you singing Bryan Adam’s Song, “Summer of 69” as rivals Chevrolet and Ford have released revivals of their pony cars from the said year. Seeing a muscle car cruise the streets is certainly bound to bring back memories. But what make it neat are these old models that now have new versions.
Made to compete against rivals in America’s Trans-American Sedan racing series, this car lived up to its Boss name equipped with more adjustable shocks, stiffer springs, bigger, bulkier tires and engine that’s definitely more high-revving - a horsepower rating of 290 from the 302 cubic inch engine backed by a four speed manual transmission. Boss 302 Mustang had 8,641 units sold in its first two years thereby giving it a place in the collectible car versions and fulfilling its mission of bringing Mustangs to showrooms that can come out as the winner on race tracks.
So we go forward to our present time, exactly 42 years later, and we see the old Mustang transformed into the new Boss 302 V8 all set with the new mission of coming out as the racetrack winner when raced with the BMW M3. Just like the previous model, this new muscle car has stiff springs, braced chassis and a revved-up engine that goes faster at a rate of 444 hp. Executives of Ford say approval of this project would only be granted if the said model can lap circuits like that of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. So far, the new Boss 302 is already faster than its fierce competitor BMW M3.
Chevrolet also released its own track intended model in the form of the muscle car, Camaro ZL1. More of an ingenious work of art than for racing, the ZL1 wasn’t randomly designed to do anything. It was, instead, the output of an innovative Chevrolet dealer from Illinois who wanted 50 Camaros that came with the company’s aluminum block, at 427 cubic inch, racing engine code dubbed as ZL1. Other dealers followed and 69 more cars were produced having the same engine with an official rate of 430 hp.
The new muscle car is set for release early next year. Packed with more power, it employs a supercharger responsible for producing at least 550hp. It’s also equipped with a 6.2 liter V8 and manual transmission at six speeds that are the same as that of the Corvette ZR1 and Cadillac CTS-V. Its magnetic ride shock absorber, like the Corvette, can also be adjusted. This results into the most advanced Camaro just yet. No particular target for performance was released yet but it’s assumed that it would exceed lap time for Boss 302.
These are just two samples of the many revamped muscle cars. You’d notice that while the past features have been retained, they had been added with many innovative improvements as well. Pretty much made to outdo competitors in both showroom and race track, each car is sure to give you joy rides that will give you new memories to treasure well until the next set of new models will come out.