1960 Impala: Continuing Marketplace Dominance On A Wing And A Flair

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1960 Impala: Continuing Marketplace Dominance On A Wing And A Flair

by Tom Shaw, photography by Colin Date

front-mainWhich is your favorite Impala, 1959 or ’60? There’s probably not a big preference either way. If you’re fond of one, you’re probably fond of the other too, because they’re so similar – not twins, but sharing an unmistakable family resemblance.

Styling cycles at the time usually lasted three years, with ’58 being a one-year exception. That put the ’60 in the second year of its styling. With fins being the dramatic rage of the age, the ’60 had fins aplenty. They were described in the 1960 sales brochure as part of the car’s “…handsomely tapered lines in the style America likes best…”

detail-2“Space, Spirit, Splendor” boasted the brochure’s cover. OK, maybe that was laying it on a little thick, but the ’60 model was a good looking car, and trimmed out with the top Impala-level finery, it was downright fetching, especially in hardtop and convertible.

The same three models, the entry-level Biscayne, intermediate Bel Air, and the top-trim Impala were all carried over. Station wagons retained a four-model lineup with Brookwood as the price point leader, Parkwood as the intermediate 6 passenger, Kingswood as the intermediate 9 passenger, and Nomad as the top model with Impala-level trim. No “woody” was offered to compete with Ford’s Country Squire.

As was the custom of the day, refinements were made to the grille, rear end, and side ornamentation, but overall shape and dimensions remained essentially the same.

Chevrolet did make a change under the hood, dropping Ramjet Fuel Injection 283 from the passenger car lines, but it remained an option on Corvette, and only on Corvette. The 348 continued as the top engine option, ranging in output from 250 to 335 horsepower.

Five transmissions were offered:
3-Speed Synchro-Mesh
3-Speed Synchro-Mesh with overdrive
4-Speed Synchro-Mesh
Powerglide 2-Speed Automatic
Turboglide 3-Speed Automatic

rear-mainAnother bit of period styling appearing one the ’60 was the flat roof used on 4-door hardtops. Featured on the model called the “Sport Sedan” in Chevrolet nomenclature, the flat roof did not have the arching rear pillars of the hardtops and post sedans. Rather, it used a wrap-around rear window terminating in forward-leaning C-pillars. It was a different look.

Both 1959 and ’60 models were built on an X-frame, with five cross-members, 3 in the back and two in the front. Coil springs were at all four corners.

Interiors were a particularly nice point on the ’60s, especially the Impala, which featured enough room to accommodate several Scions and a Kia, and plenty of multi color style. Wide seatbacks had checkered-patterned fabric with two-tone vinyl accents. Door panels were extra lively, with a patterned center, a couple of bands of two-toned vinyl, and some stylized brightwork and ribbing. Even the steering wheel was two-toned. There was plenty of color to stimulate the eye, making for an interior that was perhaps a little busy, but all in keeping with the period fashion.

It was a good sales year for Chevrolet, which added the Framingham, Massachusetts assembly plant. Chevrolet not only remained the leader in U.S. auto production, but increased its market share over rival Ford, which was enduring a rather weak styling year.

1960 Impala courtesy of the South-40 Collection

Spotter’s Guide: 1959 vs. 1960
1959 1960
Front: Chrome “jets” atop fender Smooth fender tops
“Two Scoops” above grille Wraparound, no scoops
7 vertical ribs with center buttons horizontal bars with center
headlights in housing no headlight housing
parking lights above headlights parking lights below bumper

1959 1960
Rear: 1 almond-shaped taillight each side 3 round taillights each side
Fins have gentle curve fins have sharp angle
concave channel side-to-side

1960 Chevrolet Essential Specifications
Dimensions (inches)
Overall Length 210.8
Width 80.8
Height 56.3
Wheelbase 119.0
Track, Front/Rear 60.3/59.3

235 I-6 135 @ 4000 (Hi-Thrift 1V)

283 V8 170 @ 4200 (Turbo-Fire 2V)
230 @ 4800 (Super Turbo-Fire 4V)

348 V8 250 @ 4400 (4V Turbo-Thrust)
305 @ 5600 (4V Turbo-Thrust Special w/HD Powerglide)
320 @ 5600 (4V Turbo-Thrust Special)
280 @ 4800 (3 x 2 Super Turbo-Thrust)
335 @ 5800 (3 x 2 Super Turbo-Thrust Special)

Passenger Car Models
Biscayne Fleetmaster
Bel Air

Station Wagon Models

Assembly Plants
Atlanta, GA
Baltimore, MD
Flint, MI
Janesville, WI
Kansas City, MO
Los Angeles, CA
Norwood, OH
Oakland, CA
St. Louis, MO
Tarrytown, NY

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  1. I own and have rebuilt a 1960 Chevrolet Impala 4 Door Sedan, model 1839,Ermine white 936A color code and Black/White Houndstooth interior 809 style code. My car was built at the Kansas City plantin Aug 1960 per the cowl tag numbers and has a padded dash cover, 2 speed windshiled wiper and All Weather air Conditioning factory installed. I have since added original power brakes, under dash courtesy lights, under hood and trunk lamps, seat belts, and several other accessory items. I have been collecting full size 1960 Chevrolet literature, items and showroom displays since I have had the car. It’s a gas to drive around to sounds of Frank, Dean and Sammy crooning through the radio. EE-O-Eleven, Pallies!

  2. Donna Schrader says:

    Just received your 1960 Chevy article 2 years later. I have my first car bought in 1961, a 1960 Chevy
    Impala 2-door hardtop, red with white top and arrows. It was parked in 1965 and came back to life
    in 2011 when my husband was getting bad. He wanted it out so I could drive it and take it to car
    shows and he wanted it loud so he could hear it. It is loud. It has drawn some attraction since I
    have had it out. Some remember it when my husband drove and raced it and some remember him.
    So enjoyed the information you provided. Will add it to my file

  3. Dennis Doughty says:

    I have owned a ’59 Impala Spt Coupe for 16 years and a ’60 Impala Spt. Coupe for about 7 or 8. I view them as two equally beautiful sisters; different, but beautiful in their own way. I have a slight preference for the ’60 hounds tooth interior pattern and for the rear styling of the ’59 hardtops. I am decidedly prejudice when it comes to the convertible, though; in my opinion, the 1960 Impala convertible, in red or black, with the WWW’s is one of, if not the most beautiful automobile ever built.

  4. don loose says:

    no mention of the 1960 sedan delivery, the last production year.

  5. I agree with Dennis, I had a beautiful 60 Chev Impala Convertible in 1966, which looking back I considered it one of the most desiirable cars around at the time, and maybe even to-day. Regards, Al…

  6. Jerome Carodine says:

    I was born in 60 !

  7. Jerome Carodine says:

    This is the 1960 I built about 4 years ago

  8. Just starting to restore my 1960 Belair 2-door hardtop. My dad bought it new in 1960 for $2536.00
    Only option was the hardtop for $239.00. Learned how to drive in this car and dated my wife in it. even though it is black and no A/C still a lot of fun to drive.

  9. Norm Hall says:

    They were a beautiful car. I’ve had mine for 56 years and that 348 Tri Power and 3 speed still runs great! Restoration done in 2014 with original color of Sateen Silver. Built in Los Angeles plant. Enjoy!

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