This 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible belongs to “Bernie”, a Clavey Auto Service customer. You may remeber him from our first Car of the Month when we featured his Thunderbird. This Impala is equipped with a 235 c.i.d. straight 6 cylinder engine with a Rochester 2 bbl. carburetor that develops 135 bhp @ 4,000 r.p.m. and an automatic transmission. This car was built at the Janesville, Wisconsin plant. There were 65,800 Impalas built for the 1959 model year and the original selling price was around $3,500.00.
In 1597, Harley Earl who was in charge of styling for General Motors, was concerned by the new Chrysler products that entered the showrooms. They had fresh new designs. They were long and low and had giant fins on the rear and were covered in chrome. The story goes that Harley Earl scrapped all the existing 1959 GM designs and started over. With some minor improvements to the 1958 drivetrain and frames, the bodywork was completely redesigned. The 1959 Chevy was the last car that Harley Earl designed for GM before retiring.
The rear fins, rather than sticking up like the Chrylers, were laid flat, parallel to the ground. The tail lights were turned sideways and shaped like a teardrop to fit under the sloping fins that meet in the middle of the trunk. The lights were quickly nicknamed “cats-eyes” by the public. The headlights were moved onto the grill and were positioned so low that at night, oncoming drivers could easily identify the car as a 1959 Chevrolet soley by the headlights. This car was completely different from previous model years and was a one year only design.
Named for a South African antelope, the Impala was introduced in 1958 as a new sporty trim package for Bel Air coupes and convertibles. The Impala became a separate model in 1959 in both two and four-door versions and became the best selling car in the Chevrolet line-up. It continued for a decade as the best selling automobile in the U.S. selling over 13 million cars.