Chevrolet Bel Air Fourth generation
|1959 to 1960|
|Assembly||Arlington, Texas, United States Oshawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe 2-door hardtop (1960) 4-door sedan 4-door hardtop|
|Related||Chevrolet Biscayne Chevrolet Impala|
|Engine||235.5 cu in (3.9 L) Blue Flame I6 283 cu in (4.6 L) V8 348 cu in (5.7 L) V8|
|Transmission||3-speed manual 4-speed manual 2-speed Powerglide auto.|
For the second time in as many years, Chevrolet again came up with a totally new car. From the front or rear the 1959 Chevrolets resembled nothing else on the road. From the headlights, placed as low as the law would allow, to the cats-eye tail lights, the 1959 Chevrolet was a brand new car with all new sheet metal, a new frame, and even new series names. The most visual new change was the flat, wing shaped tailfins. The car was built on a 119 in (3,000 mm) wheelbase and was 211 inches (5,400 mm) long-which was 11 in (280 mm) longer than the 1957 model. This made Chevrolet the longest car in the low-priced range, whereas two years before it had been the shortest. In addition, the car was 3 in (76 mm) wider outside and had 5 in (130 mm) more width inside than it did in 1958, through the reduction of door thickness. The frame was new, called GM X frame, and it had no side rails.
The Bel Air, which had been the top line series since 1953, was now the middle range. Wagons were still classed by themselves, but had model numbers matching the car series. Parkwood 6-passenger and Kingswood 9-passenger wagons had Bel Air's model number, and as such were the middle range wagons. Under the hood, little change took place. A variety of speed options, such as fuel injection, special cams and lowered compression, gave horsepower ratings up to 315. Bel Air production was 447,100. The new Impala line surpassed Bel Air production by 20,000 units. A parking brake warning light was optional.
1959 Chevrolet Bel Air Fourth generation side view
Little change was made for 1960. The new models were refinements of the 1959 style with a much more restrained front end, the return of the double cone tail lights of 1958 rather than the startling "cat's eyes" of 1959. Under the hood, things remained constant. Fuel injection was no longer available, but with the 348 cubic inch engine, a horsepower rating of 335 at 5800 rpm was now achieved. This involved the use of three double-barrel carburettors, a special cam and an 11.25:1 compression ratio, all sold as a package. New to the Bel Air series was the Sport Coupe, which used the Impala's two-door hardtop body, but lacked the Impala's luxury trim. The Bel Air Sport Sedan continued to use a rear window overhang and a huge wraparound rear window. Bel Airs (and Biscaynes) had two tail lights per side; the Impalas had three tail lights per side—a situation that would persist for most years through 1975. Many of the same options and accessories that were available on the Impala were also available on the Bel Air. The Bel Airs had more interior and exterior brightwork than the Biscayne.