American car designs for 1958 featured new high-scolloped tail fenders, low, wide body lines and full-length "dollar grin" radiator grilles. General Motors spent over $730 million dollars on re-tooling and assembly of its production hoping to recapture the boom market of 1955 / 1956. It shaped up as a year in which there would be a real battle between G.M., Ford and Chrysler, the "Big Three".
Most of the 1958 designs featured double headlights and very low silhouettes. The length of G.M. cars for 1958 was about 9 in. greater overall and, on Chevrolet, air- suspension was offered for the first time. Most of the G.M. line had about 300 b.h.p. and top speeds round the 108 to 118 m.p.h. mark. Improved suspensions and transmissions were also featured.
For 1958 the traditional Buick port¬holes were missing for the first time in many years and the lines of the car were much cleaner. Buick were attempting to regain third sales place which it had lost in 1957 to Plymouth. Oldsmobile also undertook a cleaning up process and for 1958 had optional engines available with outputs up to 312 b.h.p. The Olds also got the air-suspension ride.
American Motors discontinued production of Nash and Hudson cars, while the Rambler remained as the sale produce in the motor car field. The lines of the 1958 Rambler Station Wagon offered more individuality than perhaps any of the other makes, with the exception of Chrysler products.
Five from Ford
There were five new models by Ford of America for the 1958 sales race. Bold styling changes were made throughout the range and there was also the extreme-design Edsel. All 1958 models were fitted with twin headlights, in some models in horizontal line and others in near vertical line. Air-suspension was available on all models as an optional extra. Fuel injection was not yet available on Ford cars, and the 1958 models had improved carburation only. Power was increased through the series. The "Six" cylinder model remained available. For 1958 the Ford Thunderbird was a four-seater with a very hot engine. But Ford's hottest product was the Lincoln which was putting out 390 b.h.p.
Beautiful New Chryslers
After their great leap in sales for 1957 the Chrysler products were set to dominate in a market which was insisting on advanced styling. The new Chrysler range was beautiful and, here at Unique Cars and Parts, we feel they lead the field. Engine powers were also way up, for average models the power output was around the 335 b.h.p. mark while on the Imperial power went up to 390 b.h.p. The engines were new and other changes to the cars included new headlights, tail lights and radiator grilles. A new bubble windscreen was also fitted to increase general all- round vision. Optional on Chrysler's Imperial were 11.00-14 tyres, claimed to be the largest passenger car tyres in the world.
Oldsmobiles New Type Radio
The 1958 Oldsmobiles were fitted with a then new type of radio - all transistor, and portable. The radio would slide out from its dash mounted housing so that it could be used as a portable battery-operated type.
When replaced into the dash for driving, the radio would plug in automatically to the cars electrical system, and it even featured a self locking mechanism to help prevent theft. It weighed only 3lb., was 6.5 inches long, 4.5 inches wide and 2 inches deep, and came standard with dry cell batteries that would provide around 160 playing hours when the radio was used outside the car. A chrome plate flipped down to cover the dashboard slot when the radio was taken out.
Suddenly It's 1960
That was the slogan used in 1957 to boost sales and the experts were predicting that the same slogan would hold good for them again in 1958. But passenger car sales during 1958 were down again, to just over 4½-million. Truck sales were down also, to under 900,000. General Motors and Ford may have been celebrating their golden anniversaries, but it was not a great year in thd showrooms. Ford commemorated theirs, i.e. their Model T's, by reassembling a 1909 'Tin Lizzy', and produced their 50-millionth vehicle. Ford also introduced the Edsel car, which featured push button automatic transmission controls in the centre of the steering wheel, self-adjusting brakes and other attractions.
The car did not live up to Ford's expectations, however, and was discontinued in November, 1959. Chrysler Corp. produced its 25-millionth vehicle. Most 1958 cars had dual headlights with four 5inch 'Sealed Beam' units. Air suspension was optional equipment on all General Motors' car makes and both Chrysler and Cadillac offered a device designed to hold a car at a preselected speed - a precursor to modern day cruise control. Studebaker-Packard decided to drastically curtail their production programme and to concentrate on their new Lark compact car.
The Buick Series 60 Century Convertible Model 66C was one of 20 models in five series: 40 Special, 50 Super, 60 Century, 75 Roadmaster and the new 700 Limited. All models had a new and unusual radiator grille and dual headlights. The 'port-holes' had disappeared.
Pictured left is the
Cadillac Series 60 Special Fleetwood Sedan, Model 6039. Some of the features which distinguished it from other Cadillacs were
the extruded aluminium shields at the bottom of the rear quarter panels and the stainless steel moulding extending over the bottom of the doors. The wheelbase of this model was 133 inches, overall length 225.3. All models were optionally available with air suspension.
Chevrolet range was entirely revised for 1958 and came in three series, with Six/V8 engines: Delray (1100/1200), Biscayne (1500/1600) and luxury Bel Air (1700/1800) In addition to Powerglide, Turboglide transmission was optional on V8s. Other options included power steering, power brakes, Positraction self-locking differential and Level Air suspension. Pictured left are the Sport Sedan, Model 1839, Impala Sport Coupe, 1847 and
Impala Convertible, 1867, all from the Bel Air 1800 Series.
The Impala was introduced in 1958 as a new, upmarket, sporty trim package created for Bel Air coupes and convertibles. Unique to the model were its six taillights, which set it apart from lower trim levels with only two lights on a side. This classic styling cue would become its trademark.
The Chevrolet Corvette Sports Roadster, Model 867, had a new front with dual headlights and other styling changes. 3 or 4-speed manual or Powerglide trans. could be specified, with four versions of the Super Turbo Fire V8 engine.
Chrysler Windsor four-door Hardtop Sedan, LC1-L-43, was one of five models in the
122 - inch wheel base LC1 - L Series. Their 354 CID Spitfire V8 engine had a 10:1 compression ratio and developed 290 bhp.
Chrysler Saratoga two-door Hardtop Coupe, LC2-M-23, was one of only three models in the LC2-M Series: conventional and hardtop four-door sedans. They had a 310-bhp
354 CID Spitfire V8 engine and 126-in wheelbase.
As before, the Chryser top-line series was the New Yorker LC3-H with 345-bhp 392 CID V8, 126-inch wheelbase and six body styles. High-performance 3000 (LC3-S) had 380-bhp engine or optional 390-bhp unit with fuel injection. Dual head lamps became standard equipment on all Chrysler cars. An electrically operated fuel injection system was offered on the 300D, and the Sure-Grip, a limited slip differential, could be purchased for a Chrysler. The Windsor had a new, shorter wheelbase of 122 inches.
DeSoto Diplomat Six LF1 and V8 LF2 Series resembled Plymouth except for distinguishing grille and badges. Standard, DeLuxe and Custom models were available, albeit only in certain export markets. They had a 118-inch wheelbase except station wagons (122-in).
The DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman Hardtop Sedan, Model LS3-H-43. shared 126-in wb chassis and 361 CID V8 engine with Series LS2-M Firedome and LS3-S Adventurer but horsepower ratings differed. FireSweep (LS1-L) had 122-inch wheelbase and 350 CID V8 engines. All had 10:1 compression ratio except Adventurer (10·25:1) which was available with fuel injection also.
The 1955 Dodges had restyled grille, dual head-lights, compound-curved windscreens and other styling changes. An electronic fuel injection system was available, boosting power output to 333 bhp. Of US produced Dodges in 1958, 96·4% had automatic transmission, 62·5% had power steering, 34% had power braker. The Coronet range (LD1 Six and LD2 VS) accounted for 70% of all sales.
The Edsel Citation Hardtop and Convertible were two models in a new line introduced by Ford in the medium price field ('priced from just above the lowest to just below the highest'). It was claimed that the Edsel was the result of eleven years of planning and testing, including more than 1,250,000 test miles. However, although styling and controls had some unusual features, the technical specification was much like that of other contemporary Ford-produced cars. There were 18 models, including five station wagons, in four Series: Ranger, Pacer, Corsair and Citation.
Edsel Citation four-door Hardtop was the top-line model. Equipment included self-adjusting brakes, push button automatic transmission controls in centre of the steering wheel and floating drum-type speedometer. Options included dash-mounted compass, tachometer, etc. Engines were E-400 361 CID 303-bhp V8 for Ranger, Pacer and Station Wagons, E-475
410 CID 345-bhp V8 for Corsair and Citation 660.
The 1958 Ford front and rear end styling was changed dramatically and featured dual head and tail lights. The body side mouldings were also redesigned. Pictured left is the Fairlane 500 Sunliner Convertible, Model 76B. Engines were 145-bhp Mileage Maker Six and 240, 265 and 300-bhp Interceptor V8s. Transmission options included manual, overdrive and Fordomatic or Cruise-O-Matic automatic.
The Ford Thunderbird was entirely restyled for the first time. It was now a four-seater prestige model, rather than a sports car, and the body was of unitary construction. Convertible and Hardtop body styles were available 300-bhp Thunderbird 352 Special V8 was standard but for export a 235-bhp engine was offered.
The Imperial Crown LY1-M Southampton four-door Hardtop with Landau top roof section and FliteSweep rear deck (boot) lid with simulated spare wheel cover. There were also Imperial LY1 and Imperial LeBaron LY1-H models. All had 129-inch wheelbase and 345-bhp 392 CID engine with 10:1 compression ratio.
The Kaiser Carabela, Model KA1, was a South American continuation of the 1954/55 North American Manhattan Sedan. It was produced, until the 1960s, by Industrias Kaiser Argentina SA in Buenos Aires, to where all the body dies and other tooling had been transferred. IKA also produced various Willys Jeep models.
The 1958 Lincoln models were completely restyled and featured unitary body-cum-chassis construction. The 7-litre V8 had 10·5:1 compression ratio and developed 375 bhp. Body styles in the Capri and Premiere lines were the same, namely four-door Sedans (53A), Landau Hardtop Sedans (63A) and Hardtop Coupes (57A and B resp).
For 1958 the Lincoln Continental was no longer sold as a separate marque,
as in 1956-57. It was Lincoln's top-line model and designated Mark III - available as Coupe, Landau (hardtop sedan), Sedan, and Convertible.
Mercury Park Lane Phaeton Sedan was one of 20 models
offered for 1958. It was 220.1 inches long and the wheelbase was 125 inches. Coupe and Convertible models were also available. Other series were the Montciair, Monterey and Station Wagons, with various body, engine
and transmission options. Air Cushion Ride air suspension was among the optional extras.
The Meteor Rideau 500 four-door Hardtop was one of the cars produced by Ford of Canada, using US Ford Fairlane components but carrying their own distinguishing grille, badges and trim.
The Oldsmobile offered Dynamic 88, Super 88 and 98 models. Completely restyled for 1958, Oldsmobiles had dual headlamps, an aluminium grille, new decorative trim on the side panels and choice of three 371 CID Rocket engines, ranging from 265 to 312 bhp depending on carburettor specification. Optional equipment included New-Matic Ride air suspension and Trans-Portable (easily-removable) radio.
Packard entered its last year of existence with three regular models: 58L-YB Town Sedan, 58L-J8 Hardtop Coupe and 58L-P8 Station Wagon. They were based on the Studebaker President and powered by a 225-bhp 289 CID V8 (Studebaker Sweepstakes 289). Transmission was Flightomatic or manual with overdrive. Not surprisingly, sales were dismal.
Packard Hawk Coupe, Model 58L-K9, was attractive but not different enough from the Studebaker Golden Hawk, which it resembled technically, to keep the marque alive. If anything, the Stude looked better. Both had a supercharged 289 CID V8 with a maximum output of
275 bhp at 4800 rpm.
The Plymouth LP2-H Fury was available only as two-door Hardtop. It had gold-coloured anodized aluminium inserts between the body side mouldings. Engine was the Dual Fury V8 or optional Golden Commando (up to 315 bhp with fuel injection).
Pictured left is the Plymouth Sport Suburban V8, Model LP2-H-45. Series designation was LP1 for Sixes, LP2 for V8s. Model ranges were Plaza, Savoy, Belvedere and Fury cars - Suburban, Custom Suburban and Sport Suburban wagons. Engine outputs ranged from 132 to 315 bhp.
The Pontiac Star Chief Catalina four-door Hardtop was available as the Chieftain, Super Chief, Star Chief and Bonneville Series. The latter was new for 1958. Output of the new 370 CID Tempest 395 V8 ranged from 240 up to 310 bhp with fuel injection and Super Hydra-Matic.
New for the 1958 Studebaker Commander was the treatment of the air vents or cowls; they were now located in the grille, to leave body lines clean and sleek. Hawk Styling ditinguished the rear fins and tail lights of 1958 Commanders and Champions. The new hoodline was low and wide, blending into hthe new roof silouette. Dual headlights were standard on the Commander, optional on the Champion.
The Studebaker Scotsman Station Wagon, 58G-01, was one of a new line, introduced as 'America's lowest-priced full sized automobile'. They were, in effect, austere versions of the Champion. Series designation for Scotsman and Champion lines was 58G. All had the flat-head Six Sweepstakes 185 engine, rated at 101 bhp. First Studebaker Econ-o-miler taxicab also made its debut this year.
Studebaker Silver Hawk was available in the Champion Series with 6-cyl. engine as Model 58G-C3 (pictured left) and in the President Series with V8 engine as 58H -C3 Hardtop. Golden Hawk Series 58H-K7 continued as Stude's top-line sports-type car with supercharged Sweepstakes 289 V8 engine, developing 275 bhp at 4800 rpm.
Willys was one of the world's largest four-wheel drive vehicle makers and a wide range of models was available. Industrias Kaiser Argentina in Buenos Aires produced various Willys models, including the Estanciera Station Wagon (4 x 4: UA-1 RA. 4 x 2 : UA-1 R B) and various Jeep types (4 x 4 : JA-1 MA. 4 x 2 : JA-3U B, Convertible 4 x 2 : JA-3CB).
The Willys Jeep Model JA-3CB was an Argentinian derivative of the North American CJ5 Universal, featuring built-in side steps, chrome bumpers and wheel hub covers as well as removable doors and convertible top. On this model, which was exclusive to the Argentine, only the rear axle was driven, and consequently the usual Jeep transfer case was not fitted.
1958 Chevrolet Brookwood 4-Door 9-Passenger Station Wagon.