Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1959 Chevrolet Impala 4-door Sedan

"Chevrolet for '59 — all new all over again! Wider in body, and functionally so — surer on the road, roomier and more comfortable for you and your family. Lower, yet with more head room in some models, greater entrance room in all models, greater visibility area all around."

1958 was a decisive year for GM in many respects. Completely ignoring the customer's demand for more economic cars, all GM brands had introduced the most flamboyant chrome monsters to date, and consequently failed in selling them. More than that, an unexpected economic recession let the customers sit taut on their wallets in that year.

Fortunately, GM had dramatically shortened the usual three-year lifecycle of this generation: alarmed by the tremendous success of the "Forward look" Chryslers, GM rushed to introduce a completely new design already for 1959.

1958 also was the year of change at GM's drawing boards. Harley Earl, the man who had defined the styling of all GM brands since the early 30s, and was one of the driving forces behind GMs dominance over decades, retired and Bill Mitchell stepped in. He directed GM towards a much cleaner and less flamboyant styling, and already the 1960 Chevrolet should show first hints of his new design philosophy.

The 1959 Chevrolet was still designed in best Harley Earl tradition. A grinning chrome grille flanked by "nostrils" which housed the indicator lights, and huge "bat-wing" tailfins, now stretching out horizontally, but nevertheless of impressive dimensions, made the car an instant icon of its time.

The Impala series, which was introduced as a special series in 1958, now replaced the Bel Air at the top of Chevrolet's lineup. Here in Cuba, most of the 1959 Chevrolets are Impalas. Obviously, the wealth of Cuba's middle class had reached its climax just at the dawn of Fidel Castro's revolution...

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