1958 Chevrolet Delray
8-cyl. 348cid/280hp 3x2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The all-new 1958 Chevrolet Delray replaced the 150 series, and was a year behind archrival Ford’s all-new car line. Ford had actually outsold Chevy by over 170,000 units for 1957, so the new car was considered to be vitally important to GM bean counters and dealers alike.
The new car was 209.1 inches long versus 200 inches for the 1957 car, and was a full 185 pounds heavier. It was also 77.7 inches wide, nearly four inches wider than the year before. The wheelbase had gone up 2.5 inches to 117.5 inches. Simply put, the car was bigger and looked like it. The car was so big, and the horsepower race was enjoined to the extent that Chevrolet engineers were thanking their lucky stars that Corporate had signed off on an all-new big-block Chevrolet heavy truck engine in 1956.
It did not take a lot of development to make a car engine out of it, and so the new 348 cubic inch V-8 debuted with 250, 280 and 315 hp variants – optional in all Chevrolet car lines (except the Corvette, in which it would not easily fit). The small-block V-8s of 283 cubic inches were improved and carried over with 185, 230, 250 and 290 hp versions (still including the expensive option of fuel injection), and the stalwart inline six was boosted 5 hp to 145 in order to help haul around the far bigger body. The big-block “Turbo-Thrust” 348 V-8 was far less expensive to buy than the fuel-injected small-blocks and so speed mavens began ticking off that option when ordering.
The well-entrenched and rightly famous two-speed Powerglide automatic was optional at modest extra cost, and carrying on from 1957 was the three-speed Turboglide automatic transmission, optional at somewhat higher cost. While this relatively new and highly advanced was improved since 1957, word spread among Chevy buyers that the less expensive Powerglide gave better service.
Frankly, the new car appears to be what Chevrolet buyers wanted, since even during this recession year Chevrolet was the only car maker to exceed 1 million sales, handily out-doing Ford’s numbers. After all, the Delray was seven inches longer than the Ford Custom 300, its primary competition, and big cars were still what buyers wanted.
Typically, it was frugal families, boy-racer types with the new 348 V-8, police departments (often also buying that new 348 V-8) and government or fleet buyers who bought this car. The Delray was therefore sold in body styles to suit. These included a Utility sedan, a two-door sedan and a four-door sedan, which were all with standard six or standard V-8 (with a price upgrade, of course). Prices began at $2,013.