1959 Chevy Impala during the Port Jeff hill climb 2010
Ushering out the decade of wild tail fins and chrome decadence was the 1959 Chevrolet Impala. A radical new model compared to the semi-conservative 1958 Chevy it replaced. The 59 Impala was everything good and bad about the 1950s. Sharing body shells and platforms with the lower priced Buicks,Olds and Pontiacs it was part of GMs effort to keep cost down while giving each division its own unique styling.
Bill Mitchel and his styling crew gave them all their own chrome ladden “Fin-a-fied” look. Riding on a new for 1959 X-Frame it had much improved ride and handling over the 1958 model. The roof was three inches lower and bodies measured two inches wider than its 1958 brother. Another innovation was the “flying wing” roof line and “panoramic view” rear glass.
The huge trunk was offset by “batwing” rear tail fins and “cats eye” taillights. Auto writer Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated joked that the trunk was “Big enough to land a Piper Cub” on. Rumors at the time were at high speed the batwings would make the rear of the car rise like a plane taking off. Something Chevy never confirmed or denied.
Perhaps the best way to keep the lift down was to fill the “4 body trunk”.. Body styles ranged from a two door sedan,hardtop and convertible. Four door models came in four door sedan and pillar-less hardtop. Backing up the range was a nine passenger station wagon. Engines ranged from the thrifty 235 cubic inch 6 cylinder. The V8s started with the tried and true 283 cubic inch small block with power ranging from 190 to 290 horsepower.
Topping off the V8s was the 348 Big Block(new in 1958) with power options up to 315 horsepower. Choices of transmissions were 3 or 4 speed manuals. The famous “Slushbox” or “Powerglide”was the only automatic available. In 1959 you could purchase a nicely optioned Impala Convertible with a 190 horsepower 283 V8 and a “Slushbox” for $2967.00.. The featured Port Jefferson Cars 1959 Impala Sport Coupe would of set you back $2580.00 with the 283-V8. Ahhh how times have changed. The featured 59 Impala made it up the hill with no problems during the PJ Hill Climb. Its V8 dual exhaust rumbling the entire trip. We just hope the “batwings” didnt lift at high speeds..