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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.
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This page was last updated on April 19, 2017.