Automobiles in 1959
The Chevrolet Corvair
was the most unusual of the compacts introduced
in September for the 1960 model year. Its
six-cylinder, air-cooled, "pancake"
rear engine, made primarily of aluminum, was
combined with a three-speed manual transmission
(an automatic transmission was optional) to drive
the rear wheels through swing axles; each wheel
was sprung independently. Price ranged from
$1,810 to $1,920.
The Ford Falcon's
front-mounted, six-cylinder, 90-horsepower engine
had 120 fewer parts than the standard Ford
six-cylinder engine, and the body had about 200
fewer parts than the standard Ford. The
combination of fewer parts and the absence of
chrome trim made the Falcon one of the lightest
cars on the market -- 2,366 pounds. Factory list
price started at about $1,750.
The Chrysler Valiant was
heavier (2,650 pounds) and higher-powered
(100-110 horsepower) than both the Corvair and
the Falcon. Its six-cylinder engine, designed
specifically for this model, was front-mounted,
but was tilted at a 30-degree angle to the right
of the car for the purpose of producing a lower
center of gravity and permitting a lower
headline. Optional features included an automatic
transmission, power steering, and power brakes.
A unique, see-through
sun visor was an option offered by Plymouth in
manufacturer Renault introduced the Caravelle to
the American small-car market in 1959.
Air-Car, which traveled on a cushion of
low-pressure, low-velocity air, went into limited
production in 1959.
the Year 1959
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