A Guide to 1959 Cars

Are you a fan of the classics? From the Chevy Impala to the Ford T-Bird, these are the best cars from 1959.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
1959 was a year of classic cars, from the Chevrolet Impala to the Buick LeSabre, to the Cadillac 62. 
The last year of the 1950s was an exciting time—the Barbie Doll was launched, Hawaii officially became the 50th U.S. state, and the longstanding science fiction TV series “The Twilight Zone” aired for the first time. But it was also an iconic year for cars, and many of the year’s most popular makes and models would become classics that antique car lovers drool over today.
Hang tight because we're here to walk you down memory lane by profiling some of the very best cars from 1959. 
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The best cars of 1959

From accessible to luxurious, these classic wheels were some of the favorites among 1959 drivers—and many remain favorites of classic car collectors today! 

The best car of 1959: Chevrolet Impala 

KBB fair market range: $7,700 to $23,300
Powertrain: Choose between several 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines offering a maximum of 335 hp paired standardly with a 3-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed manual transmission or automatic transmission 
What makes it special: 
Like many years previous,
battled for the number one spot in 1959, but Chevy reigned supreme with their versatile Impala. The 1959
Chevrolet Impala
was a completely new car from Chevrolet’s past, featuring an all-new “slimline design” styling.
Buyers could choose between a 2-door convertible, a 2-door sports coupe, a 4-door sedan, or a 4-door sport sedan, as well as a series of 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines across trim levels. 
Standard features included a 3-speed manual transmission and a bench seat—buyers had to choose the optional upgrades if they wanted a 4-speed transmission, automatic transmission, air conditioning, heater/defroster, AM radio, power brakes, power steering, power windows, white sidewall tires, and even seatbelts.
A total of 14 exterior colors—along with 10 two-tone options—ranging from Aspen Green to Gothic Gold to Cameo Coral, were offered, as well as a whopping 12 interior colors in vinyl and vinyl-cloth combinations. Soft convertible tops were primarily black and white. 

The best luxury car of 1959: Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud

KBB fair market range: $17,600 to $473,000
Powertrain: A 4.9-liter (300 cu in) I6 or a 6.2-liter (380 cu in) V8, each paired with automatic transmission 
What makes it special: 
Today, Rolls-Royce is known as one of the most expensive and exclusive car manufacturers in the world, and in the 1950s, things weren’t much different. The Silver Cloud was the core model produced by Rolls-Royce from 1955 to 1966, and during that span of time, it was an impossible-to-beat statement of upper-crust luxury. 
Only 2,238 Silver Cloud Is were produced between 1955 and 1958, built standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission and hydraulic brakes. Power steering and air conditioning became optional upgrades in 1956. 
The Silver Cloud II was introduced in 1959, which changed very little aesthetically but added an optional V8 engine. This version was neither as quiet nor as smooth as the original Silver Cloud but offered drivers an increased sense of power. Only 2,417 were ever produced.

The best family car of 1959: Buick LeSabre

KBB fair market range: $5,100 to $21,900
Powertrain: 250 horsepower V-8 engine paired with a 3-speed manual transmission 
What makes it special: 
As the 1950s rolled on, American-made cars were becoming better and better for the average family, as manufacturers began to offer vehicles of every size and price point. But in terms of affordability, the 1959
Buick LeSabre
stood out from the pack. It was the lowest-priced Buick of the time, offering a wonderful entry-level option for families looking to invest in their first car.
The LeSabre was launched in 1959 with the same V8 engine that Buick drivers came to know and love. A three-speed manual transmission was standard, with an optional two-speed automatic transmission available as an upgrade. Power steering and power brakes were also optional. 
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The best sports car of 1959: Ford Thunderbird

KBB fair market range: $14,850 to $30,400
Powertrain: 4.8-liter V8 engine with a three-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission 
What makes it special: 
Ford Thunderbird
—which would affectionately come to be known as the T-Bird—was introduced in 1955 in response to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette, and quickly became equally as iconic. In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette 23-to-1 during its first year on the market.
The two-seat design was available with your choice of a detachable glass-fiber hardtop or a folding fabric top. Although it was marketed as a sports car, there was a greater emphasis put on the vehicle’s luxury, comfort, and convenience, rather than its inherent sportiness. 
For 1959, the Thunderbird featured a new grill and a newly-optional 350 horsepower V8 engine. Sales increased even more, by 67,456 units compared to the year prior.

The best truck of 1959: Chevrolet Apache 

KBB fair market range: $6,600 to $198,00
Powertrain: 230 horsepower V8 engine paired with a 4-speed hydramatic transmission 
What makes it special: 
From 1958 to 1961, the half-ton Apache was Chevy’s entry-level pickup truck, making it a beloved light-duty truck by drivers across the nation.
The Apache offered one thing that no other Chevrolet had: hydramatic drive. This beefy four-speed transmission was previously used only in
, and
Although the Apache was a short-lived name in Chevrolet history, it was a major seller at the time and remains a darling in today’s collector-car scene. 

What cars came out in 1959? 

The ‘50s were a booming time in vehicle-manufacturing history, and 1959 was no exception. Take a look at just some of the many iconic—and lesser-known—vehicles that launched in the last year of the decade:
Vehicle type
Fair market range
Bentley S2
Luxury 2- or 4-door sedan
6.2-liter V8
Produced from 1959 to 1962, the Bentley S2 replaced the S1 model and served as Rolls-Royce’s sportier sister.
Buick Electra
Full-size luxury car
6.6-liter V8
$7,810 to $275,000
Introduced as a replacement for the Super and Roadmaster lines, the Electra served as the flagship Buick sedan line from its launch in 1959 through 1990.
Buick Invicta
Full-size sedan
6.0 to 6.6-liter V8
$3,447 to $26,900
The 1959 Invicta was a continuation of the previous Buick Century concept.
Buick LeSabre
Full-size sedan
250 horsepower V8
$5,100 to $21,900
This mid-level vehicle was the most affordable option of those launched by Buick in 1959.
Chevrolet El Camino
Coupe utility vehicle
Three I6 or V8 options
$10,00 to $30,000
Unlike a standard pickup truck, the El Camino was adapted from the standard two-door Chevrolet station wagon platform and integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body.
Chevrolet Parkwood
Station wagon
Several I6 and V8 options
The Chevrolet Parkwood was a station wagon built by Chevrolet from 1959 to 1961. As the station wagon equivalent of the Bel Air passenger car series, it represented the middle member of the Chevrolet station wagon lineup of those years.
Ford Falcon
Compact car
2.8-liter I6
$4,000 to $21,800
The first compact car marketed by the American Big Three automobile manufacturers, the Falcon was the third car line introduced by Ford.
Fiat 1800
Compact car
The Fiat 1800 was introduced in 1959, offered as a 4-door sedan and a 5-door Familiare (station wagon).
Maserati 5000 GT
2-door coupe
4.9-liter V8
Only 34 of these high-end vehicles were produced between 1959 and 1966.
Two-door compact city car
Varied by manufacturer
The MINI—aka the Morris Mini-Minor—was produced by the British Motor Company from 1959 to 1968.
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The Chevrolet Impala beat out its competitor, Ford, as the most popular car in 1959.
The fastest car of 1959 was the Aston Martin DB4 GT, reaching top speeds of 152 miles per hour.
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