1959 Chevrolet Biscayne
8-cyl. 283cid/185hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Chevrolet followed up its successful tri-five lineup with a complete redesign for 1958. The new look was so successfully executed that the company regained the top sales spot from Ford. New for the year was the Chevy Biscayne, which rode on a 117.5-inch wheelbase with an X-frame. The car replaced the popular mid-level 210.
The Biscayne was longer, lower, and wider than the model it supplanted, with four headlights and not a single piece of trim carried over. The car could be ordered with any of Chevrolet’s wide range of engines, excepting the Corvette-only dual-quad 283-cid V-8. The standard six-cylinder 235-cid engine produced 145 hp, while the base V-8 displaced 283 cid with 185 hp. Tuning options could lead it all the way up to a fuel-injected 290-hp motor with solid lifters. The big 348-cid V-8 ranged from 250-315 hp.
The Biscayne had a very successful debut year with 377,000 units sold, but it was upstaged by the Bel Air’s whopping 532,000 sales. The Biscayne offered two- and four-door sedans and two Brookwood station wagons, in six- and nine-passenger configurations.
Chevrolet discontinued the low-line Del Ray in 1959, making the Biscayne the entry level car. The company also introduced another redesign, intended to position the brand as the wildest and biggest low-priced car available. From the headlights, which were set as low as legally allowed, to the “cat’s-eye” taillight at the rear, with the deepest single fender stamping ever produced, and the “flat-top” sport roof, Chevrolet grabbed the buyers’ attention.
The Biscayne added a utility sedan and a two-door Brookwood station wagon, and engine options now totaled nine different choices, ranging from a 135-hp six-cylinder, to the Tri-Power 348-cid V-8 with 335 hp.
The 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne was streamlined and slimmed down from the previous year. The full-size car was still the entry level model with a decontented Fleetmaster two- and four-door sedan option aimed at commercial use, offering only one sun visor, and no armrests or cigarette lighter. All Biscaynes had very little brightwork and body styles remained the same.
Impalas and Bel Airs have always been the favored models in these years, but a lot of people bought the Chevrolet Biscayne new because of the value inherent in a full-size car at a bargain price. Some of these owners kept their cars far longer than the average, especially in small towns. Of the Biscayne’s first three model years, the 1959 is the wildest design, but the 1960’s looks have aged better in some enthusiasts’ options. Also as a positive, the 1960 is typically less expensive and with much less trim to find.