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GM prototype photos for 1958 and '59 Impalas; any interest?


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I once wrote a history of the '58 Chevy Impala, and Chuck Jordan, Director of Design for GM in the late '70s sent me a nice collection of prototype pics done by GM Photographic.  Some of them have surfaced in other sources, and I had a number published when I did the history of the '59 Impala style for STREET RODDER's 2015 'How To' guide on their project car.  However, there are more, and some pretty hard to ID as Chevrolets!  Feel lucky that they didn't build them!  The '59 Impala is wacky enough.

I'm not good at reproducing photo images, but if the interest is there (and you can be patient!) I'll post this collection asap.  (P being the operative word, I'm afraid.)  Someday I'm going to get a younger person to walk me through shooting/scanning images and attaching them.  I'm 77 this month.  Wick

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I have always wondered why most of GM's 1958 cars are one offs. You can see the styling que throughout the whole line up. The money spent to manufacture them must been of outrageous.

Mike

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I look forward to seeing any and all of the pictures you have of the cars from this era. I remember as a young child in the '50's writing GM in Detroit and asking for pictures of their show cars that traveled around the country to all the new car shows. They always would send me some really great looking black & white publicity photos that would usually 8 by 10s. I wish I would have been able to save them, but life sort of got in the way. 

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9 hours ago, Mike 1017 said:

I have always wondered why most of GM's 1958 cars are one offs. You can see the styling que throughout the whole line up. The money spent to manufacture them must been of outrageous.

Mike

A quick explanation can be found here.  https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/class-of-1959

Basically, the original plan was more of the same for 1959 and 1960, but A sneak peek at what Chrysler was planning had the stylists at GM scrambling to rethink their approach.  The 1959 model year was the earliest they could change things.

There are some photos of what was originally planned for '59 floating around, and they aren't pretty.

Edited by Richard Bartrop
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I have a book called "A Century of Automotive Style" that includes some shots of the '59 Impala clay mockups in their bizarre glory. Not sure if those are the same photos that are now readily available on the internet.

The designers really swung for the fences, haha! If there are more previously unpublished photos I'd be delighted to see 'em.

 

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19 hours ago, Richard Bartrop said:

A quick explanation can be found here.  https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/class-of-1959

Basically, the original plan was more of the same for 1959 and 1960, but A sneak peek at what Chrysler was planning had the stylists at GM scrambling to rethink their approach.  The 1959 model year was the earliest they could change things.

There are some photos of what was originally planned for '59 floating around, and they aren't pretty.

Thanks for the link.

Mike

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My favourite year - please post all that you have!

Whenever I get someone younger to show me how to do computer stuff, things go great but as soon as said person leaves:

a) things go radically wrong and/or;

b) I forget how to do it. 🤣

Edited by showrods
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In the course of my daily work I encounter that kind of thing a lot, leading me to occasionally create instruction sheets for people so they have something to refer back to.

Of course, then the software updates and the UI changes or something and my instructions become obsolete. Lol!

On 8/1/2022 at 7:22 PM, W Humble said:

Someday I'm going to get a younger person to walk me through shooting/scanning images and attaching them. 

The simplest corner-cutting solution would be to take photos with a smart phone, and then email those images to a forum member who is more inclined to fiddle around with uploading/attaching/posting said images. Then you're off the hook!

If you want to learn some new tricks, then go for it :D Just write it all down so you can refer back to it later; I'm "young" but I do this all the time.

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Thanks for the interest!  I'll get on this asap.  Sorry but my spam catcher suddenly decided to send all my MCM forum follows to it's bin, but I found them!

As I mentioned, these photos were done in the mid-fifties, and some certainly have been in print, etc.  Mike, my notes show that the '59 with the back-up lights (clear) in the 'cat's eye' tail-light lenses is actually a fiberglass proto model, no a real car.  I have some others of it; they spared no expense when getting these finalized by the GM brass.

I can hear y'all laughing, but I'm not adept at cell phone photography.  I do have a few other skills....   My article for SRM netted $1K fees, which is acceptable. However they ordered and wrote two separate ones...   Alas, I'm no big fan of the Impala line; '55's are my favorites, back in '61 (my first car) and now.  I had cruised many's the mile in the '59 when nearly new, however -- and the rest.

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Andy:  The designers I interviewed who worked on it, Bob Cadaret and Stan Mott, didn't seem so sure -- they called it the "Batmobile" (before Barris chopped up a Lincoln Futura and claimed it as his design) and 'The Butterfly'" for it's rear treatments.  They thought it was a 'fun' concept. There were others more outrageous, as these photos show, but it was a wild time for styling in US cars; thinking about the Edsel, etc.  The '59 Chevy was radical, rakish, and shouted 'look at me!' when out cruising, especially if dropped or 'dagoed' in the front, as we usually drove it.  Popular, too; you were sure to meet yourself before the evening was over; same can be said for the 'sixties. I always thought that the latter integrated the front and rear aspects better.  My bestie drove on in HS, I had the '55.

I think the public agreed with me that the '62 was the tastiest, in a conservative mode, esp the BelAir coupe which kept the '61 roofline.  But, to each their own, huh?

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