(first posted 5/22/2011) The 1959 Impala Hardtop Coupe CC stirred up some comments doubting that the Impala, and all full-size Chevys came in two distinct models, a six and an eight. They did, ever since the eight appeared in 1955. It’s an old tradition too; once Ford came out with a V8 in 1932, Fords were available in two distinct models; the four cylinder Model B and the eight cylinder Model V8. And thus it set a pattern for pretty much all full-sized American cars, until the early seventies: two base models; a six and an eight, each with a distinct factory model number. Including even the legendary Super Sport:
Here’s the close up of the 1965 SS brochure shown above: “depending on the model you chose”. Six or Eight. The V8 SS Convertible was Model # 16667. The exception was the Caprice; except for the ’65, when the Caprice was an Impala trim option, subsequent Caprices were not available as a six. The Encyclopedia of American Cars does come in handy at times. But it also raises some questions; like which year was the last for the six cylinder big Chevy?
It was a gradual phase out, for one thing. The last year for six cylinder wagons was 1969. Beginning in 1970, sixes were limited (1970 powertrains above). But after 1971, things start to get confusing. The Encyclopedia still lists six cylinder Biscayne, Bel Air and those same two Impala models (hdtp coupe and sedan) for 1972, although with very low production numbers: 1504 for the Biscayne six sedan, dropping to 289 for the Impala hdtp coupe. But the 1972 Chevrolet brochure doesn’t list a six at all. So the sixes by 1972 must have been fleet order only, or if you really begged you dealer.
And the last six: the Encyclopedia lists the Bel Air sedan (Model K69) as the last and only (the Biscayne was dropped for ’73). And all of 1394 of them were made. End of the road. And again, the ’73 brochure (above) makes no mention of the six.
One more factoid: the Powerglide was still listed along with the THM as late as 1971 in the full size Chevy catalog. But I already knew that: I drove a ’71 Chevy cab with the six and Powerglide; a wonderful combination indeed!
And the final bit of six trivia: the Encyclopedia does not have production breakouts for the 1965 SS six convertible, but in 1964, all of 316 buyers opted for the SS six convertible. Undoubtedly, even fewer did as the sixties went on. The last relevant numbers are that in 1967, a total of 400 SS six coupes and convertibles were sold. And that was the last year for the SS as a distinct model line. Anyone know how many of those were convertibles? Probably rarer than a Hemi Cuda convertible.
More on the Chevy six: The Quickest and Slowest Chevy Turbo Thrift Sixes