Rate the Vehicle:
“Wider, lower, innovative, and unique” may be the adjectives used to describe the new Chevrolet. 1959 was the fourth year in a row that a completely redesigned Chevrolet would appear in the showroom. Harley Earl, a long-time General Motors stylist, saw Chrysler’s new fin design as a threat and ordered a totally new direction in styling for Chevrolet. Rather than the tall tail fins of Chrysler and Cadillac, Chevrolet’s “bat wing” horizontal, but flowing, rear design and “cat eye” tail lights were one-of-a-kind eye catchers. Up front, the horizontal look was continued with louvers on each side above the grille and a straight line design flowing across the grille with headlights meeting on the edges. The new Impala interior was presented with a “knock your eyes out” brilliant, bold and striking look that motivated the buyers to open wallets and step into a new dimension of style.
The wildly popular Bel Air Impala of 1958 prompted the company to assign Impala as a product line separate from the Bel Air for 1959. Replacing the Cameo Carrier deluxe truck was the new El Camino based on an automobile chassis, which was hoped to satisfy both the car and truck buyer. Unfortunately, the compromise failed and the full-sized El Camino died an early death, with production ending after only two years.
Both economy and power were offered under the hood of 1959 Chevrolets, with choices of engines starting with the inline six with standard transmission, coupled with an overdrive, to tender 20+ mpg. Down the middle of the road for power was a 283 cid V8 with basic carburetion. For the “power hungry” buyer, different tri-power carburetion options could be added to the 283 cid or the “big block 348 cid.”
Automotive design ideas that were considered novel, ground-breaking, creative, and unique for their time in 1959 kept Chevrolet competitive in the market for many years to come.