The full size Chevrolet line from 1958 has been well represented here at Curbside Classic. We’ve had the Biscayne 3 door, the Business coupe, the Impala and the Impala convertible. Now I present to you a well restored and discreetly modded ’58 Delray. It’s very unlikely that many of these survive, as the Delray, which replaced the 150, was Chevrolet’s price-leader (*cough showroom bait cough*) and sold for $2101 in 1958 dollars. To put that in perspective, that’s $17,348 in today’s money. I imagine any reasonable trade or skilled haggling would have bought the final price down below the magic $1999 mark, making this car especially attractive for the frugal shopper. 79,500 of these were made, I wonder how many survive?
Let’s look at the engine, shall we?
It’s a 350 backed up by a Powerglide. The owner said his grandmother bought the car new and it had very few options on it. It came with the 235 Blue Flame Six and Powerglide, which was a $188 option for those who didn’t want the three on the tree. A 3 speed overdrive manual was offered for $108, which would have made this a very efficient highway trip car if you also chose a numerically low rear end ratio. A Turboglide was available if you bought the 283 V-8. I asked about the air cleaner, and was told someone has started making reproductions of the steel Oldsmobile air cleaner. They’re available on Amazon for $106 plus shipping. It struck me as exceedingly cool and a nice change from that familiar aftermarket chrome one we’ve all had at one point. The pinstriping was done by a custom shop locally.
For 1958, Chevrolet models were redesigned longer, lower, and heavier than their 1957 predecessors. The first ever production Chevrolet big block V8, the 348 was now an option. Chevrolet’s design for the year fared better than other GM offerings, and lacked the overabundance of chrome found on Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Cadillacs. Complementing Chevrolet’s front design was a broad grille and quad headlights that helped simulate a ‘Baby Cadillac’. Befitting its bottom-end status, the Delray had minimal interior and exterior trim and limited options. As such, this model was popular with fleet buyers such as police departments and businesses.
However, private customers could also buy a Delray if low price, economy and basic all-around transportation with the convenience of a full-size automobile were the primary goals. Compare the chrome on the side of the Delray to that of the Impala.
It’s cleaner and less busy to me and…classier.
I love the dash. I wish modern cars looked like this.
The front end still had the requisite chrome bumper and grille.
Comfy looking bench seat.
One last look at the script. Isn’t that so much better than the stick-on badges we get now?
Find the gas cap 🙂
Between the trunk lid and the bumper, on the left? I see two seams that have no reason to be there otherwise.
GM did seem to love a good game of “hide the gas cap”, even into the 80’s. The filler was behind the license plate on the A/G and B-bodies.
I’ve seen 1 or 2 of these Delrays over the years, all had NON-metallic paint jobs and were usually 2-toned in 2 shades of the same color (as in dark over light green, dark over light blue, dark over light coral). 2-tones using white seemed to have been reserved for other trim levels.
My family had a 58 Brookwood (a sort of turquoise green over white) and 1 of my many uncles had a 58 Nomad (in baby blue). My mother came to hate that Brookwood quite quickly and it was traded for a 60 Country Sedan. My uncle, however, held on to his Nomad until 1964 when he and 1 of my other uncles bought matching green Country Sedans….from the same small, rural, north Pennsylvania Ford dealer.
BTW, it seems unusual to see a 58 Chevy with 2 tail light lenses per side and BOTH with red lenses. Even though back-up lights were optional (they didn’t become standard until 1965) these usual seem to have red and white lenses instead of 2 red lenses .
Isn’t the gas cap behind the license plate? On this car it looks like there are 2 gas “doors” above the bumper.
It’s one of the doors, the left one if my memory is still any good.
Was the 1958 Chevrolet the first model year with multiple round taillights on each side? Quickly became a Chevy “trademark”.
I have a cherry 58’Delray with most original parts in place. I have 2 lights in the rear on both sides, tho 1 set is red and 1 set is White. I do not know if that is original tho.
The gas cap is above the license plate and below the truck lid.
The backup lights were dealer-installed options according to the assembly manual. From the factory, they came with 4 red lenses, just like my ’58 Delray has.
GM cars often had hidden gas caps.
Cadillac left rear lights. Chevy ’57 chrome panel.
Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 57-58 had gas door with lettering “Gasoline”.
On ’58 left gas door IS the gas door.
And on the ’58 Olds….
left side between deck lid and bumper thru tilt door
Always liked 58 Chevs a school friends parent had a Bel air 283 tree shift yellow and white it went rusty early in life but all American cars did then we didnt get the Delray or any 2door options locally assembled in NZ but Australia got the Delray only with leather seat facings to give a luxury air no V8 option there either.
I notice power windows on this car. Seems out of line … the people who bought Delrays didn’t buy power windows. Makes me wonder if this was really a BelAir, artfully retrimmed later?
Had to be added later. Power windows were rare back then, even on Impalas. It was offered in the catalog, but I seem to remember that they were a more expensive option than Powerglide. Power windows weren’t necessarily mandatory on a Cadillac back then.
Just the same, its a very nicely done addition. The switch is the proper issue, and the positioning appears to be correct.
Door panels appear to be Impala pieces. Delray panels were much simpler in design. It looks like he upgraded the interior using pieces from higher level cars. Makes for a nice custom touch, but looks like it could have come from the factory that way. Nice work.
Here’s what the Del-Rey interior would have looked like originally.
My uncle’s Impala had power windows. Grab the crank and apply the power. 🙂
Like the “Armstrong Power Steering” that most of my dad’s pickups were equipped with.
According to my data, the Powerglide was listed at $188, but power window control was $102.
This car also appears to have the A/C vents added, although I don’t see an A/C compressor underhood or A/C lines. Factory A/C was listed as a $468 option.
I like and agree with the term “Baby Cadillac”.
Stylistically, I think the 1958s were the beginning of some years of full-size Chevrolets projecting a subtle “Cadillac look”. To my eyes, this similarity seemed to focus on the grille.
It really started with the 55s and became more pronounced as the decade wore on, culminating in that Motor Trend 71 Caprice/ deVille comparison test. Essentially showed that another several thousand spent did not buy you more car when you had 90% of the functionality and 80% of the looks of the Cadillac.
Nice car. I’d rather have the six and Powerglide, though
Actually, the first “Baby Cadillac” Chevrolet was the 1932.
This is a very, very nice resto-mod. Sure, the power windows were added later. From just the few images here I can see a very high level of attention to detail. Props to the owner/restorer.
Thought that the photo of the interior looked “odd”. Door panels don’t match the seat upholstery exactly. The seats are low to mid trim level while the seats are “correct” Delray. For that matter, a V8 in a Delray would be a borderline rarity.
Still, a very nice car and it avoids the over – decorated look of an Impala.
FYI, the door panels and seats are matching Belair trim level. There’s a lot going on there color wise, but that’s stock.
Is that an Impala two door sedan in the black and white photo? And air in a Delray two door sedan? My kind of car!
These were everywhere when I was a kid–the lower-trim sedans were the “family cars” I usually saw, rather than the dressy Impala hardtops or convertible.
M-64’s mention of the price and the (1958) year jogged my brain; it was in ’58 that the price-sticker “Monroney bill” was passed, taking effect early in ’59. (What kind of pricing info did a car buyer really have before then, BTW?) Here’s an early mention from the Senator’s home state:
I finally know why they are called “Monroney”, thanks!
You’re welcome, Ramon. I had wondered how the manufacturers felt about it–but maybe they thought the bill a way to keep a lid on dealer shenanigans. Interesting that Ford and GM approved, and Chrysler was OK with going along, even if they thought it unnecessary (May 1958):
It’s interesting that the Delray was a low-line car in 1958. In 1954 it was a mid-line (210) 2-door sedan with a bit nicer trim than the standard 210 2-door and 4-door sedans. I guess that’s the standard progression for series names and such….
Yeah, this was the only year for the use of Delray as a stand alone model/series name rather than an upgrade package on another series. 1958 was also the first use of the Biscayne model name which was the mid range series for that year. In ’59 the Impala became a full series which pushed everything else down a level; Delray was dropped and Biscaynes were the price leaders. Thus began a process that continued over the next couple of decades as Caprice was added at the top, and first Biscayne, then Bel Air and finally Impala itself were dropped (although Impala was revived for the SS and then for a FWD sedan).
I have to admit that the less flasy trim of the Delray is more attractive to me than the Impala.
I haven’t seen a Delray in close to 30 years. I bought a Delray back in 1968 for $40. I dropped a 327 with a 4 speed that I paid $200 for both in it and sold it for $850. Even in 68 there weren’t many Delrays running around.
How could I NOT comment on such a nice-looking car!
In about 1967, my then-in-his-late-teens older brother had a black ’58 Delray, a sixer with a three on the tree. One night someone failed to stop in time and rammed him from behind while he was stopped at a traffic light. No more ’58 Delray. He escaped without serious injury.
Soon thereafter he replaced it with a white ’59 Impala V8, and a drunk (also in a white ’59 Impala) ran a red light and t-boned him, which broke the tie rod and ricocheted him into a tree. No more ’59 Impala. He once again escaped without serious injury.
His experiences back in the day helped play a part in thinning the herd of classic late ’50s Chevys.
Ironically, I saw a ’58 Del Ray on a trailer on my way home from work Friday! Red & white. Didn’t look like a rat rod, but who knows?
As much as I prefer hardtops, there is something about the old two-door post sedans that I find very attractive, and at times my preferred style, believe it or not.
I hated to see the V8 added to the subject above. I would prefer the 235/Powerglide or 3-on-the-tree on this car.
Unfortunately, these cars rusted terribly back in the day in the midwest and turned to dust rather quickly.
How many of you like the B-52-style twin-jet engine nacelle tail light bezels? I love ’em!
I’d never made the B-52 connection before now, perhaps incredibly. Very cool detail!
Perhaps the most blatant connection to the Cold War U.S. Air Force was made in ads for the 1958 Buick. The delta-winged B-58 Hustler was in active service at the time.
I’m with Zackman – I’d rather have this price-leading Delray as a Blue Flame Six and ‘Glide or stick . . . . . more fitting for the Chevy price leader (or a 283).
I’m surprised nobody mentioned the tail lights are of a piece and resonant with and a continuation of the B 52 nacelle look parking lamps up front.
A 4 door version of these neat cars still might live in Ennis, MT since it was being driven there and being loved by its owner as of 2013.
This car is mine. The shots were taken waiting in line for the Beaches Cruise In, in Portland Oregon. Responders are correct in that the car was a bare bones Delray fitted with heater sun visors and arm rests as the only added options beyond the powerglide. Everything else has been added over the years. I received it in my Grandmother’s will in 1970 with 19,000 miles on the clock. That maths out to 1500 miles a year to church and the grocery store. These things were a dime a dozen in wrecking yards back then so I started loading up on options. The power windows came out of a 58 Impala along with clock, cigarette lighter, radio etc etc etc.. I have all the AC from the firewall on back but need to find someone to do a sanitary mating with what would go under the hood. The interior is correct for a Belair Sedan and the seats match the door panels for the color code. I believe someone is just now starting to make the correct Delray stuff, but I like it as it is. The wheels tires and stance are identical to how I had it in high school. Grandma would probably recognize it as it is the original Silver Blue color. She would not approve of the exhaust note…
BTW – when I did the restoration my brother in law had a nice 79 350 with a 350 TH which I bought and installed. The 235 and PG was sold to a guy for his 54 Belair who was thrilled. I got more for the 6 than I paid for the 8. Hmmm.
Thanks for the comments.
Very cool to hear the story behind it, and how great that you’ve been able to keep your grandmother’s car over the years. It looks great, nicely done!
Great to hear the back story.
Welcome to Curbside Classics, Deano. It was nice talking to you. Yours was the only car I wrote up that I saw that day. I never asked you about the Powerglide. My bad. They’re a solid piece of machinery that people still use and there’s a lot of love for them here. And for Sixes. You’d have had twice the comments if the 235 had still been there.
Yes, but you have to note how the pendulum has swung towards originality pretty recently. When I restored this car 20 years ago I asked a number of people, “Should I keep it original or play around with it?” (I have all the parts less engine and tranny to put it back stock.) The answers I got were “play with it.” It will be worth more as a resto-mod than a stock 6, so that’s what I did. The cast iron Powerglides were highly sought after by drag racers for a time, but fortunately this went as a pair to the 54 Belair buyer. It’d be fun to see them in their new home. The engine didn’t even have an oil filter for the first 12 years of it’s life! I quickly put the optional hang on “toilet paper roll” cartridge type on the intake manifold
If I had to do it again I’d probably leave the original drive train intact We drove it from Oregon to Texas with a u-Haul behind without complaint and without the trailer it would do 90mph all day long!
I’ve been searching for the original dealer paperwork which was typed and listed the prices for the options, but haven’t found them yet. Field’s Chevrolet in Portland. Still have the Fields license plate surrounds.
Sire, what size wheels n tires you running on it, and do you know the backspacing on the wheels????
Gas filler is behind the left door above the bumper. Nice that they dummied up some matching seams on the right to keep things symmetrical.
2 red lenses were standard on Delray taillights. The only time you got the clear on the inners is when you added back up lights. 58 wagons and sedan deliveries had a single taillight so the back up lights were added to the license plate trim panel.- a PITA since the metal was quite thick.
1958 were any delrays built with v8 engine or were all 6cyls ?
I know your question was asked over a year ago, but you could buy or order a Delray with any engine Chevy offered including the 283 FI or a 348 tripower.
Updates to the drivetrain on this in the last year are a purpose buiilt 383 roller stroker, 700R4 and an original 3.36 Positraction. Vroom vroom.