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 Impala broke the all-time industry yearly sales record in 1965 with more than one million units going out the showroom doors. The ‘65 sales record remains unbeaten to this day. The fourth generation is revised bottom to top featuring a full coil spring suspension to support the new full width perimeter chassis. The green house glass windshield has a sharper angle, no-draft windows reshaped, and the side windows are now frame-less in the hard top versions. Mid-year ’65 the newly introduced Caprice is in show rooms as an option package for the four door hard top. The Caprice “Halo” model has tufted upholstery, simulated wood grain vinyl accented interior, with unique hand pulls on the door. The Caprice exterior sports SS “spinner” wheel covers with the bow tie logo in place of the SS emblem and also borrows the SS black-out strip below the tail lights minus the SS emblem.
The 1966 model year sees the Impala takes a back seat with the Chevrolet Caprice as the uptown full size luxury model. The inline six cylinder engine is still available but most opted for one of the V8 choices. There is finally a new three speed automatic back in ’66 after a four year hiatus, reinvented as a Turbo Hydra-Matic, and it is readily acquired by purchasing the new big block 396 cu in Mark IV V8 engine. The 396 replaces the deleted 409 early in the ’65 model year but a few 409 engines did make it out of the showroom. The two speed Power glide automatic is still available as well as a four speed and the three speed transmissions are there to be chosen but this year both synchro-meshed gears. The Impala line-up is flashing a lot of chrome on the exterior this year. With interiors looking good featuring pleated-tufted seating and door panels which is set off with an abundance of chrome trim strips. The Chevy Impala convertible had 38,000 happy new owners in ’66; it was second bestselling unit in North America and chosen by double the number of customers that purchased a Mustang rag top.
The sheet metal is revised on the Impala in 1967; the front and rear fenders now have a bulge following the Corvettes example. Both this year and next the smooth lines are tending more towards the coke bottle shaped body. In order to comply with federal safety regulations this year the complete GM lineup comes equipped with impact absorbing steering column, marker lights on either side, and have a shoulder harness.
The Impala models have a revised front fascia for 1968 and the triple tail light configuration is the shape of a horse-shoe and nestled in the bumper this year. The Custom coupe is new for ‘68 with the same conventional roof line as the Caprice Coupe.
The 1969 Impala has shed the sinewy coke bottle look; radically revised the side panels are flat with up swept rear quarter windows give the car a more refined look. The automobile is still on the same wheelbase but the size is emphasized the designers are trying to make the car appear larger with the new wrap-around bumpers front and rear and it does look wider. The old style no draft worked well but added wind noise so for ’69 the vent windows are scrapped and all models of Impala have a basic flow through ventilation system with bringing fresh air into the cabin through dash mounted adjustable ports. This supplies lots of fresh air and save the company some cash as well with the ports also serving as the delivery system for the optional air conditioning units. All models have the ignition switch on the steering column which is now a locking design as is the shift lever. A notch back roof line is now featured on the hard top sport coupe. The 1970 Impala is the end of the 4th generation is altered minimally with the front bumper now under the grill and the rear tail lights are now vertically configured and mounted in the bumper. The Canadian customers have an added Sport Coupe model available in the body of the Bel-Air for the budget minded sport fans.
The E-Type or Jaguar XK-E was manufactured in the U.K. from 1961 though 1975. This is not only one of the most attractively designed sports cars ever built and it is also very agile. The majority of vehicles until the mid-60's have drum brakes, , live axles both front and rear coupled with unexceptional performance. The compelling E-Type is available in '61, with disc brakes, rack and pinion steering plus independent front and rear suspension. This car will also turn in under 7 second times from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) and can achieve a top speed in excess of 150 mph (241.4 km/h). The E-Type shown below is a Series I and powered by a 42 liter Inline six cylinder engine that produces 265 HP (197.6 kW) delivering up to 283 ft-lb of torque to the wheels.
Our thanks to Gateway Classic Cars for the images displayed here
The Ford Mustang is about to join a very small group of automobiles. In 2014 the Mustang will enter its 50th year of continuous production which is quite a feat and the biggest success story for the Ford Motor Company since the model “A”. The car was so successful that it gave rise to a new subclass of car – the pony class. When the Mustang came into the showrooms it took the car market by storm and sent all the competitors back to the drawing boards in a hurry; the car had sex appeal – it was a beautifully designed automobile. Many of the interior, chassis, frame and drive chain components were from other Ford products; the Falcon and Fairlane models mostly which minimized drawing board time, less assembly line changes and it meant minimal additional inventory stock for the dealerships. Ford underestimated by a long shot just how big this new car was going to be. The new Mustang was going to sell 100,000 units the first year Ford thought but this was surpassed three months after the car hit the showroom floor. The first model year Mustangs were purchased by 318,000 people but within eighteen months one million units was surpassed. As Ford hurriedly increased production of the Mustang these first models – referred to as the ’64 1/2 by the purists - did have a few quirks; some of the cars left the production plant without headlight wiring harnesses or there were also cases of horn blowing rings saying “ Ford Falcon” beneath a trim ring saying “Ford Mustang”. These models with production errors are worth more to collectors – if they can find one. The sixty four and a half and the 1965 Mustang came with a 170 cu in (2.81L) six cylinder engine or a sweet running 289 cu in(4.7L) V8 motor.
Some of the production problems with the sixty four and a half continued into the sixty five model year. Some of the cars with the 289 engine did not get fender badges to denote the 289 engine displacement and a few of the sixty five models left assembly with holes for the backup lights but not installed. To make things a bit more comical – it was often the customer that purchased the vehicle that noticed the error(s). The 1966 remained the same as the previous year and a half with only a few slight changes to give the car a sportier look Ford altered the side scoops slightly as well as a slight change to the grill hood emblem. The Ford Mustang was not perfect it does have some flaws but is has been around for fifty years and the 2014 models are as nice to look at as the first ones off the assembly room floor. Happy birthday Ford Mustang.