posted at the Cohort by Stephen Pellegrino
I have to wonder how folks in 1959 that looking to trade in their weary 1952 Chevy sedan for felt about the new ’59 sitting at their Chevy dealer? Quite the contrast, for just seven years later. Did middle aged farmers in Iowa really want something that looked like this?
The answer was obviously not, for a good number of them.
1959 sales increased for pretty much everyone since 1958 had been a recession year. But Ford sales shot up by a mighty 46%, whereas Chevy sales increased by 31%. That was enough to almost tie Chevy, something that would not happen again for a very, very long time.
There’s little doubt that Ford’s relatively subdued and boxy 1959 styling had a lot to do with that; probably everything, actually. I think a lot of folks felt a bit more comfortable driving this Ford into town on Saturday morning than a bat wing Chevy.
The contrast was even more acute with the top line Impala and Galaxie, although it undoubtedly worked the other way around, as the Impala coupe handily outsold the Galaxie coupe.
Well, that probably rather sums up Ford’s issues at the time, which was that it pretty consistently looked more conservative (1960 excepted), and once Chevy sheared off the wings and trimmed itself down a bit for 1961, it quickly ran away from Ford in the sales. In 1962, the big Chevy outsold the big Ford by a bit more than 2:1. Ouch; that must have hurt.
That giant windshield just doesn’t work well with the rather conservative six-window sedan upper body. These need to be hardtops, two or four door. They sure could have used a bit of Pontiac’s Wide-Track magic too. Those little wheels look so lost under there.
Of course wider wheels and bigger tires along with all sorts of other go-fast goodies like a 290 hp fuel-injected 283, four speed on the floor, Positraction and HD suspension were on the options list. Yes, the ’59 Chevy was the first mass-market American car to offer an optional four speed, never mind the fuel injection. A Corvette…for five.
Yes, the ’59 Chevy, in the right trim and body style, could work, in its own crazy way. But just not on a six cylinder Biscayne sedan.
I had a Dinky or Corgi model of a bat wing Chevy as a kid – it may still be in the attic. I hadn’t seen the real thing, or even a photo of it, but when I saw it I had to have it. Simply amazing for someone on this side of the pond.
Obviously , in those days I knew all big American cars had big V8 engines…..
Same here. They still only sold the Chevy with a six here, but we kids ‘knew’ that all real American cars had a V8.
I had a high school friend who showed up with a 1959 Del Ray. It was gray with a white top and rear deck. ( The better to show off my batwings my dear!). It was a 6/powerglide. She’d been somebody’s baby since new, as every panel gleamed. After a ride home in it, I determined the next time I saw the guy I would buy it from him. By the next time I saw him, he’d already wrecked the lil thing. Still wished I would have moved faster to this day.
Just like this.
The 59 Chev was certainly out there stylistically, the usual quota of Bel Airs was locally assembled 283 or 6 cylinder no automatics though that option didnt arrive until 1960, sales cant have been great as I only recall a couple of them from the 60s and I spent a lot of time at the local Chevrolet dealer on Saturdays where my dad worked, they are certainly more popular now and nearly all of them I see are LHD imports, I prefer the 58.
I was never a real fan of the ’59 passenger cars, but for some unfathomable reason, I really like the ’59 El Camino, and even better, the ’59 Sedan Delivery.
Wow, I forgot about the Sedan Delivery! Haven’t seen one of them in like, forever.
I don’t remember dad’s ’59 at all after such vivid memories of his ’58 Impala in silver blue, 348 and Turboglide, and I believe air suspension. Definitely a last time for that combination, as I do remember dad went back to a 2 barrel SBC/Powerglide combination which lasted him until he left the dealership.
The reason I don’t remember it is because it was crowded out by mom’s first car, and the first time the Paczolt family went to two cars. A 6-passenger Brookwood (I think, well, whatever they called the BelAir trim station wagon) in brown and cream, also a 2-barrel SBC (most likely a 283) and Powerglide. I remember being surprised that dad didn’t got top of the line on this one, even down to the rear window being crank, not power, operated. I can guess dad was feeling a bit funny about allotting himself two company cars, so he went a bit downmarket on the second one. Or . . . . . seeing he ordered his cars equipped to be easy sales on the used lot the following year, this must have had something to do with how station wagons were selling back in ’59-60.
That was a one year thing. For her ’60 wagon, mom got an Impala, equipped equal to dad’s car (this time the infamous convertible that mom ensured never happened again). Either the market was changing, or mom let it be known that she didn’t appreciate driving something poorer than dad.
Then there was that ’59 Biscayne sedan that dad bought in ’68 due to a land dispute with a neighbor, and he needed to block access to the back lots of his property. I drove it once or twice (I’d snuck out and had my own key made), and it was a heap, but for me it’s main purpose was to hide illicit beer in the trunk. Which I managed to kill off before getting caught, but that last six pack was close.
Turboglide AND air suspension in the same car? Doesn’t get much better/worse than that, heh?
Not sure why he did it (I was seven at the time he ordered it, it was fall of 59 before he ever sat down with me on the order book, and that was the 60 convertible).
Dad always ordered his company car for the next customer, not himself, which invariably meant BelAir, Impala, or Impala SS (whichever was top of the line), normally a two door hardtop (the 56 was a four door hardtop, the 60 was a convertible, the only two exceptions), Powerglide, and the newest size small block with a two barrel carburetor. That way, it never sat in the used lot more than a week once he took delivery on the new year’s model.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of GM push with the new 58 Impala – get a really dressed out one to show off the new model. I do remember he had problems with the air suspension, didn’t like the Turboglide worth a damn, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 348 was heavier on gas – for all I know, that one was a four barrel. I do remember that it really shoved me back into dad when I was sitting on his lap as we were coming up our three block dead-end residential street. I’d be holding the wheel and dad nailed the accelerator.
Yep, I learned how to drive sometime between the ages of 7 and 8.
When I see a Prius Prime from the back, I think of this car.
Yes! I’ve been saying this since the Prius was redesigned — it’s Toyota’s 59 Chevy, with even a hint of the batwings.
I’m surprised the Ford sold as well as it did compared to the Chevy–I think the Chevy looks MUCH better.
That’s before factoring in the available small-block.
How did the sixes compare? In that era, people still bought sixes with 3 on the tree.
Add in Plymouth and there was some real style variety in 1959 among the traditional low priced 3, that’s for sure. And there was a huge variety in the way they drove too. It would be a great use of time travel to go back and test drive each of the three when new.
I have often fantasized about doing this!
Wow, really big differences in what the low price 3 offered, stylistically. Add in how they were built and how they drove, and it would make a fun day of test driving all three versions courtesy of the wayback machine.
For comparison, here is the Plymouth Plaza (the lowest version):
Special Interest Autos compared the “Low-Price Three” for 1959 in the mid-1990s.
The reviewers drove well-preserved or restored examples of each marque. Their test featured top-of-the-line versions. They greatly preferred the Plymouth over the “other two.”
The 1959 model year is significant because it was the last year before Big Three compacts arrived, and the last year the Plymouth would hold the number-three spot until 1971. It was also the last year before Chrysler Corporation itself would begin undermining Plymouth by giving Dodge dealers the full-size, low-price Dart line.
“They greatly preferred the Plymouth over the “other two.””
I don’t doubt it. Having owned a 59 Plymouth in the late 70s I was astonished at the time at how modern it drove.
The great tragedy of Chrysler is that it often built cars that were demonstrably better (handling, drivetrain) and then squandered their advantages by weird styling and atrocious build quality (the first Valiant being the key example). It could never get everything right at the same time.
One thing I really wish I still had was the Ross Roy data book for the ’59 Plymouth my dad had from his days at my family’s C-P dealership.
It wasn’t primarily intended as a public presentation, but more to provide salesmen with competitive selling arguments and comparisons. Naturally, the Plymouth always came up first, but in this case, I’d say they were right.
I’m not a fan of this year’s styling, particularly the front end, but it was definitely the best handling of the big three, and competitively equipped.
I think GM may have gone a step too far with this design. Us kids went “WOW!!!”, but the folk who bought cars went “What???”.
By the time I really started paying attention I remember 59 Chevys as old, dented, rusted, smoking heaps. So even a Biscayne sedan looks good in this condition.
Most of my personal experience in these is with the 60, which had been toned down a touch. My grandma’s neighbor owned a 60 sedan that was probably a Bel Air. I remember sitting in it for awhile once and was struck by the pairing of the swoopy shape and that great dash with a plain Jane green sedan with 6 cylinders and black tires/poverty caps. Other than a bit of northwest Ohio rust the car was in amazing condition when she finally replaced it with a used Dart sedan around 1976 or so.
Chevrolet had long been the style leader so it would not surprise me at all that they sold a higher proportion of high trim 2 door hardtops and convertibles than the competition.
Also, in fairness to Ford, they tried dropping the stripper version of the big Ford for 1962 when the Fairlane came out. Galaxie and Galaxie 500 were the only two choices before the XLs came out, and the Galaxie was decently trimmed with lots of stainless trim on the outside and looked at least as nice as a Chevy Bel Air. This probably moved the price shoppers down to the Fairlane (or Falcon).
Ford had sold about 150K Fairlanes (strippo big car) in 61 and that model was not replaced in 62 big Fords. The 62 Galaxie pretty much matched the 61 Fairlane 500 production and the 62 Galaxie 500 was down fairly substantially from the 61 Galaxie.
One could say that Chevy won the battle, but Ford won the war. Model proliferation didn’t hurt the full-size Chevrolet, while it did put a dent in sales of the full-size Ford.
But model proliferation seriously undermined the Sloan brand ladder. If one could buy a Buick Skylark that was cheaper than a full-size Chevrolet Caprice…which brand was more prestigious?
It also forced the divisions to share more components across a corporate body/platform, which diluted the differences between the brands. Even mighty GM couldn’t afford to allow each division to develop a completely unique version of the corporate body/platform, particularly with each division (aside from Cadillac) offering four or five models.
The Sloan ladder had been wobbly for a while as lower end cars became larger and larger, as the public eye had long been conditioned to equate size with prestige. It certainly started teetering when all GM cars used the same basic body for ’59, but the luxury-brand compacts gave it a strong push.
I’d argue that it fell good and properly in the early seventies when Buick and Olds got their barely distinguished Nova clones, then the engine sharing debacle smashed what was left and the X-car clones set fire to the ladder’s wreckage.
THOSE are some serious wrap-around windshields–on both cars.
I think of the cost of the glass, the challenges of manufacturing that body / A-pillar…leaks.
To my eyes, the Chevy looks sleeker, the Ford looks stodgy…
I have to agree with this. While these Chevys are a bit outlandish, they look stylish while the Fords of this vintage look very stodgy. And the Plymouth? Sorry JPC… they look like something out of a horror movie… oh wait… ;o)
I do prefer the 1960 Chevy, and especially prefer the 1961 when the wings were simply a vestigial suggestion at that point.
I think many buyers must have gravitated to the Ford by default. As a kid the batwing Chevy was probably the first car that really caught my eye as being different, especially as us Aussies got little orange and chrome indicator ‘bats’ hanging from the underside of the wings – major kudos to the local GM guy who thought of doing that!
By comparison the Ford was just a big car. Long, flat and glitzy, but nothing special. The Plymouth? It wasn’t seen here in any great numbers, as Chrysler was pushing the local Royal by then, which was like Grandma in hot pants. Yeah I know the metaphor’s out of period, but you get what I mean…..
A high school friend of mine was given a mint condition, garage kept ’59 Impala “Flat Top” 4 door hardtop by his doting Aunt, who admitted that she was just too old to be driving.
Two tone bronze and white, cloth interior, 6 cylinder/PG drivetrain, perforated plastic add on seat covers, power steering, dealer installed air conditioning. Even then (1971) I liked the hardtop’s window/roof line so much better than the sedan’s.
He was vaguely ashamed of it and embarrassed by it.
I love the sheer audacity of it and the contrast it made to my first car, a ’67 Corvair Monza. I think I liked both cars equally well; for totally different reasons.
I was nonplussed/disappointed/pizzed off supremely when he traded it in on a ’73 Vega.
I’m sure that after a year or two of Vega ownership, he was, too.
The Powerglide Vega shook more, rode rougher and was as slow (slower?) as the PG Impala was.
This exact car, right down to the color, was described as the main character’s vehicle midway through the Stephen King novel “11/22/63”.
Somewhere along the line, I have developed a passion for these kind of cars…the plain Jane four-door ‘stripper’ versions. They evoke a certain kind of nostalgia for the kind of cars I’d see all the time back in the day, dog-dish hubcaps and all.
The Galaxie series was a mid-year introduction, so that undoubtedly affected its production compared to the Impala in 1959. Chevrolet did quickly pull away from Ford after 1959. The 1960 Falcon and 1962 Fairlane stole sales of the full-size Ford, while the 1962 Chevy II and 1964 Chevelle didn’t have the same effect on full-size Chevrolet sales.
The full-size Chevrolet was almost an institution by the early 1960s…the V-8’s reputation and the emphasis on performance (optional four-speed manual) undoubtedly helped in that regard. Bill Mitchell’s styling also helped.
It’s interesting to read the Popular Mechanics “Owners Report” for the 1961 Chevrolet. Several owners specifically said that they held off buying a new Chevrolet until they saw the 1961 models, as they found the 1959 and 1960 models to be too outlandish.
In the early 1970s, an elderly woman in our neighborhood had a 1959 Bel Air in this body style – copper brown with a white roof. It even sported these hub caps. The car was in very good condition, but by that time, it looked like something from another world to my friends and I.
Another interesting factor in the big Ford’s poor showing was that sales of Plymouth and Dodge imploded after 1959. I wonder what standard Ford sales would have looked like had the Mopars been competitive.
After driving Jason Shafer’s 63 Galaxie, I still remember how far inset the seat was from the rocker panel. As an average built guy it required a real leg stretch to get in without rubbing rocker panel all over my pants leg. I cannot imagine that this design went over well with ladies at the time, who were typically much smaller than I am.
Including 1960 senior Dodges, total full size Dodge and Plymouth was about the same numbers in 59 and 60. Full size Plymouth and Dodge Dart totaled over 500K units in 1960, which was significantly more than the 1959 Plymouth. The big change is mostly that former Dodge-Plymouth stores sold a lot of Darts to people who might have bought a Plymouth or a bigger Dodge at the same store in 59. The superior Dodge name and styling probably captured some 1960 Plymouth prospects from the Chrysler dealer down the street, too.
Total Desoto and Chrysler was about the same in 59 and 60, but more biased to Chrysler in 60.
The 1960 Valiant was extra business from 59.
Also remember that 1960 was the year Chrysler took the Plymouth franchise away from Dodge dealers, and gave them the Dart instead.
If a customer came to the Dodge dealer expecting to buy a new Plymouth, the sales person was not about to direct him or her to a nearby Chrysler-Plymouth or DeSoto-Plymouth agency.
The sales person was more than happy to show these potential customers the new Dart, which was advertised by Dodge as being price-competitive with “Car C,” “Car F” and “Car P!”
A check of numbers at Allpar shows that excluding Valiant and Lancer, the total Plymouth plus Dodge numbers from 1959 to 1962 were roughly 568K, 592K, 390K and 337K. In 1956 the pair had been good for over 750K units.
My point was that the full sized Ford was taking a big hit at the same time that the full size Mopar was taking a hit too. No wonder GM hit (what I understand to be) an all time market share high in 1962.
Also if we were to add Mercury to Ford’s numbers and Pontiac to Chevrolets, the contrast would get much more stark with the GM cars trouncing the others badly.
Yes, full-size Mopar volume went down *after* 1960.
GM was on the roll in those model years, with good sales over all 5 divisions. These were years when the Buick-Olds-Pontiac brands were dominating Mercury-Edsel and Chrysler-DeSoto, besides the overwhelming popularity of Chevy at the low-price end.
A very good point, JPC. If the Mopar brands’ quality had been at usual levels, or even comparable with the others, I’m sure the result would have been a lot closer. The market showed the Chevy’s styling was a bridge too far in buyers’ minds. I could see Plymouth being a nice, comfortable step (styling-wise) ahead of the conservative Ford without going to the outlandish Chevy, if the brand’s reputation had been what it was five years earlier. Or even two.
Dashboard shot: car shows 55,000 miles.
I forgot to credit you with these shots. Will do right now!
No horn ring…another stripper detail. At least they ponied up for a radio…?
And it looks like they may have sprung for a clock, too!
Nope–no clock. It’s a 6 cyl., w/Powerglide, radio, the cheaper “recirculating” heater, and the jet-fighter chrome ornaments on the front fenders (which were optional on the Biscayne).
When I was in hight school a classmate had one. The rumour was the bat fins would cause the real to lift over 100mph. Apparently not so:
The reason the Chevy II didn’t have the same effect on full size Chevrolet sales is because all the potential Chevy II buyers were over at the Ford dealer buying a Falcon.
By 1962, the Chevy II was out, and it sold very well, almost as well as the Falcon. In 1963, it beat the Falcon. Yet big Chevy sales were soaring at the same time. And the Corvair was selling in quite healthy numbers too.
So I’m not sure what your point is.
Certainly in ’59 AMC was on a tear with Rambler and Studebaker had their last big hit with the Lark, there was really a growing appetite for an alternative to the ever-bigger “low-priced standard” car that the Big Three weren’t ready to meet until the ’60 model year.
Some time ago someone else made the point that the Corvair was really the only successful of the Big 3 compacts because it took in conquest sales from imports rather than cannibalizing full-size sales; I take the tack that the presence of the compact and (by ’62) intermediates freed the full-size models to really go after the dreamboat market without attracting the kinds of complaints the ’58/59s got.
That line of thinking seems pretty logical. The switch from only really having one full sized ‘model’ and different levels of trim worked for Sloanian purposes, but once the low priced three added V8 power and more luxurious trim, it did cement the Big 3 on their path to blur any and all lines.
Consider if the experiments of the late 50s had worked? Ford, with Mercury, Edsel, and Lincoln (and perhaps Continental?) going toe to toe with GMs Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Buick and Cadillac, and Mopar still fielding Plymouths, Dodges, DeSotos, Chryslers, and Imperials. The top line cars would have the V8s, the over-the-top styling, and all the gadgets. The low lines would be 6s and conservative for those buyers.
Instead, the ugly reality that it costs about the same to make a stripper base car as a high end one, and the OEMs made the appropriate changes. A smaller car, selling for a small amount less, allowed for them to go hog wild on big cars and up the profit per unit on those to make up for any losses on the low price end. Most people pay for their vanity, the ones in hairshirts do so willingly as well, but are fewer in number.
It helped that (most) full-size cars of the mid- and late 1960s sported clean, handsome styling. The full-size Chevrolet from those years is a handsome car with styling that makes it seem substantial, but not bloated or outlandish.
I can *just* remember when these were the latest thing, but by the time I was driving they were a decade old and disappearing from the roads. This seemed exactly like the kind of Chevy that you’d get from a GM that gave us the ’59 Cadillac; to younger folk, I’d just say “you had to be there.”
That said, I’d prefer the ’60, and I’ll bet my grandfather was one of the Chevy loyalists who held out for the sober ’61’s.
Here’s our once-upon-a-time proud dealership (location unknown):
I have no problem with the Biscayne look. But I can certainly understand why folks in the target demographic did.
PLUS it can probably be argued that the ’52 Chevies handled and stopped as well if not better than their ’59 counterparts, given the ’59’s added weight and that X-frame.
Exactly identical to the car I learned to drive in. Atrocious handling, no way to tell where you were on the road. But it was tough, taking all the punishment I could dish out.
Thinking about the ‘59 EcoBoost Edsel, I’d like to see an EcoTec turbo batwing Chevy.
Make mine a ‘59 body with a ‘60 front clip. (The eyebrows on the ‘59 just don’t get it for me.)
Mine was a ’60 Bel-Air, a bit of a step up from this one but not a whole lot. Pretty ridiculous car for a high school kid to be driving in 1991 but I loved it. Handled like a yacht. The straight 6 and three speed with overdrive were reasonably capable compared to the other ’70s and ’80s stuff my friends drove.
Between the steering and size and brakes and shifting it was a bit of a chore to drive at times. By college the novelty had worn off and I sold it for a more practical Mustang.
In hindsight I would think most people prefer the Chevy to the Ford because it looks more modern, at least to my eyes, but I can understand why they may not have at the time.
Anyone notice the Fuel Injection emblem on the ’59 in the ‘I Built My Chevy To Handle’ ad? ’59 was the last year Ram-Jet fuel injection was offered in a full size Chevy.
You wonder if the 1959 GM cars were outlandish messes? Don’t be!
Just look at what GM did in 1960 with the same cars. They softened them. The 1960 versions of these same cars were toned down. Why? Because they needed to be toned down. The Exner cars were as outlandish as they were before – but GM could, and did, steer away from the cliff of over-styling. They had to keep the cars, but they made them more conventional.
What did Ford/Mercury do? Their 1960 cars were lower, wider and were less conventional than they were in 1959. GM’s 1960 cars still looked like space ships while Ford’s didn’t, but GM definitely toned those 1959 cars down.
If the GM cars were too much for GM, then the debate over which styling was better, should be a short one, right?
And the scary part is that the ’59 designs that made metal were the most conservative examples of what GM’s design studios were putting out that year.
‘GM could, and did, steer away from the cliff of over-styling’
True. But they may have gotten closer to the edge than anyone else. And that’s why these designs are iconic nowadays.
The 1959 GM cars were Misterl going out with a bang, not a whimper. A larger-than-life personality with a larger-than-life career leading a larger-than-life design juggernaut. What better way to commemorate his influence than an over-the-top final group of cars under his direction.
23 years ago I went and visited a friend in Cambridge, England. He had moved there from South Africa, and brought some cars with him—one of which was a ’59 Chev, right-hand drive, very high spec including a green leather interior, IIRC. Certainly an interesting oddball, but I’ve just never been able to get onside with the styling of the ’59 Chev. Much too much for me. And that’s really saying something, given what a fan I am of Virgil Exner’s work.
Don’t feel bad. Of all the ’59’s, only the Buick was any degree of attractive (you should have seen the version with THREE tail fins!), mainly because it was the only model that was designed as a unit from beginning to end.
Everybody else had to work from Buick’s body.
Come to think of it, Virgil Exner could very easily have come up with this design, its resemblance to the early 60s Valiants and other Chrysler products is not a huge stretch.
I’ll pretend I didn’t see you say that. Instead I’ll go clean my glasses in your honour. 🙂
I owned one of those ’59 Biscaynes for a few months back in the early 70s. 6 and Powerglide. One of an endless procession of $50 college beaters I’d buy, drive and fix up and hopefully sell for a profit. As I recall, the Biscayne was preceded by a ’60 Ford and followed by a ’59 Buick.
I made out OK on the Ford and Chev. They were unremarkable cars. Nothing particularly good and nothing particularly bad. My strongest memory of the Biscayne was that it had no windshield washer. The summer months I owned it had an unusually large lake fly hatch. Couldn’t go far without stopping to scrape them off the bug-catching wraparound windshield. Funny how you remember the most inconsequential details about certain cars.
The Buick, being a real lemon, was much more memorable. Evidently certain Dynaflows had a weak casting holding the reverse band. When it broke, the entire case had to be replaced. Even using junk parts and doing the work myself, there was no way the repair economics made sense on a $50 car. After a few months of pushing the car backwards with one foot on the ground and one in the car, I finally found a buyer for $20. The loss ate most of my profit from the Ford and Chevy,. but I considered myself lucky to find a buyer at anything above scrap price.
Such was life in the cheap lane. The ’59 Biscayne might have had a lot of faults as a new car purchase. Once it reached beater status, it came into its own. Generally stone cold reliable, simple and easy to repair. It was an honest car despite the over the top styling.
Since we’re on the subject of the ’59 Chev, this was a few months shy of a decade ago:
Normally the stripper models, possibly intentionally, are pretty disappointing. But I came across this immaculate ’65 Biscayne last month, which looks borderline fabulous. Maybe it’s the colour..
Chevrolet had such sales momentum as a dependable, known quantity, basic value proposition with the best resale value retention in its class that only an outlandish style could give some pause to defer a purchase for a year in hopes of something more palatable.
As context, Here are the NADA Used Car Price Guide, Northeast Region
April 1 – May 14, 1960, (FADP) Factory Advertised Delivered Price; (AR) Average Retail
1959 Chevrolet Biscayne 4dr sedan, 6 cyl, manual shift: $2,301; $1,785
1959 Ford Custom 300, 4dr sedan, 6 cyl, manual shift: $2,273; $1,750
Add for Powerglide: (6 cyl) $199; $150
Add for Ford-O-Matic (6 cyl) $190; $150.
1959 Chevrolet Impala, 4dr, Sport Sedan hardtop, 8 cyl, manual, $2,782; $2,485
1959 Ford Galaxie 4dr, Town Victoria hardtop, 8 cyl, manual, $2,772; $2,520
Add Turboglide (8 cyl) $242; $185
Add Cruise-o-matic (8 cyl) $231; $185
Five years later, April 1 – May 14, 1963:
1959 Chevrolet Biscayne 4dr sedan, 6 cyl, manual shift: $840
1959 Ford Custom 300, 4dr sedan, 6 cyl, manual shift: $750
Add for Powerglide: (6 cyl) $80
Add for Ford-O-Matic (6 cyl) $80
1959 Chevrolet Impala, 4dr, Sport Sedan hardtop, 8 cyl, manual, $1,200
1959 Ford Galaxie 4dr, Town Victoria hardtop, 8 cyl, manual, $1,175
Add for Powerglide: (6 cyl) $95
Add for Ford-O-Matic (6 cyl) $95
For those interested, the fuel-injection option was $484; the 4-speed transmission $188.
Thank you for the figures. Just out of curiosity, how did the comparable Plymouths fare on the used car market?
This is easier than typing it out. Used car prices, left to right:
1958, 1959, 1960, 1961–
in October, 1964
1959 Plymouth Savoy, 4dr sedan, 6cyl manual, $2,283; $1,710
1959 Plymouth Fury, 4dr sport sedan hardtop, 8 cyl manual, $2,771; $2,265
Add for Power Flite (6cyl) $189; $150
Add for Torque Flite (8cyl) $227; $185
Deduct for manual transmission (8cyl only) $175
1959 Plymouth Savoy, 4dr sedan, 6cyl manual, $600
1959 Plymouth Fury, 4dr sport sedan hardtop, 8 cyl manual, $950
Add for Power Flite (6cyl) $80
Add for Torque Flite (8cyl) $95
Deduct for manual transmission (8cyl only) $80
Thank you for the information on Plymouth trade-in values. That was another serious sales handicap for Plymouth…it would bring a lower trade-in value.
And uncle in small-town Arkansas bought a stripper two door Biscayne in dark blue undoubtedly with three on the tree and six cylinders in 1959. He was still driving it when he died in the late 70s.
Case in point, my father was always a Chevy/GM guy. He had to select a car for business purposes in 1959 and went with a Ford. I can still recall him saying that he just couldn’t get around the Chevy’s bat wings.
Thank you for sharing that!
A great anecdote.
The first car I remember my Dad having was a 1959 Kingswood, two tone, red, with a white roof. What a beast.