A Tuxedo Black 1959 Chevrolet Impala Convertible highlights this week’s Cars On Line newsletter as the website’s featured Car of the Week. Some experts believe it is one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time. 1959 was the first year that Chevrolet offered the Impala as a full line model of its own.
The Impala had previously been the top name under the Chevrolet Bel Air line in 1958, its first year in existence. But in 1959, the Impala became a series of its own, adding a 4-door hardtop and 4-door sedan to the Sport Coupe (hardtop) and 2-door convertible models from the previous year. The new Impala model replaced the Bel Air at the top of Chevrolet’s food chain, as the Biscayne became the entry-level model.
The Tuxedo black 1959 Chevrolet Impala Convertible you see here is a rare and desirable example of Chevrolet’s top production vehicle for 1959. (Find over 50 high resolution photos of this car in the ad placed by Midwest Car Exchange of Alsip, Illinois.) Close inspection of the photos will show an exceptional restoration to accurate detail. An AACA Medallion on the grille evidences that this was an AACA Senior First Place Award winner in 1993.
In its beautiful detail this convertible version shows why the 1959 Impala was such an impressive achievement in automotive styling. They called it the “Slimline Design” with the iconic “Bat Wing” rear tail treatment. This was accomodated by an all new X-frame chassis. With a three-inch lower roof and a two-inch wider body, the design was so low in the front that you could always tell it was an Impala coming at you at night by how low the headlamps were to the ground. A remarkable sight for its day.
The rear was lit up with “cat’s-eye” taillights. The rear view of the ’59 Impala is often termed the “gullwing” look. It was so stunning with its rear wings folding over the “cat’s-eyes” taillights that to this day photographers would rather shoot photos from the rear of the car than from the front. The nose had high horizontal vents which were non-functional for fresh air flow. In the process of redesign the Impala grew from its 1958 specs, an inch and a half in the wheelbase and an inch and three-quarters in overall length. Out back was the optional Continental Kit capturing the look made popular in that era.
Under the hood, there was a treat for the performance minded younger generation. Chevrolet again offered the 348 ci truck engine as a big block, a prelude to the rat motors of the muscle car era. The 348 came in three levels of tune. The car you see here has the Super Turbo Thrust V8 rated at 315 base horsepower at 5600 rpm. It was fed by tri-carb setup with three 2-barrel carburetors. The dual-snorkel air cleaner grabs attention in the highly-detailed engine bay. A major magazine reported 0-60 mph at around the 10.8 mark at a top speed of 110 mph. And this was a heavier car than the ’58 Impala. That is truly amazing performance.
Features On This Stunning Tuxedo black 1959 Chevrolet Impala Convertible include:
- Super Turbo-Thrust 348 ci V8 Engine With Three 2-Barrel Carburetors
- Two Speed Powerglide Automatic Transmission
- Power Steering
- Power Brakes
- Power Windows
- Power Seat
- Air Conditioning
- A Rare Vacuum CIGAR Ashtray
- Dual Chrome Side Mirrors
- Seat Belts
- Windshield Washer
- AM Push Button Radio With Twin Rear Antennas And Rear Speaker
- Glossy Mirror Finish Black Paint
- Fender Skirts And A Continental Kit At Rear
- Red Vinyl Interior Has Plaid-Theme Cloth Inserts In The Seats And A Matching Red Padded Dashboard
- White Power Convertible Top
- Red Vinyl Boot Cover
- Wide Whitewall Tires With Chevrolet Spinner Hubcaps
The 1959 Impala had a production run of around 473,000 units all together, and weighed 3,650 pounds. The selling price was $2,967 (at a time when the average household income was $5,000 a year and gas cost 25 cents a gallon. Chevrolet recorded 72,765 convertibles built that year.
The Impala was Chevrolet’s top seller for 1959. Chevrolet chief engineer Ed Cole called it a “prestige car within the reach of the average American citizen.”