Car buffs remember the flamboyant 1959 Chevy cars, with their batwing fins, cat's-eye taillamps, and a truck-lid, as veteran auto tester Tom McCahill noted, "big enough to land a Piper Cub."
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Fewer remember that in 1959 Chevrolet built its seven-millionth truck, including this Apache Fleetside pickup, part of the "Task Force" fleet. Chevrolet pickups had been growing more civilized.
In 1955, the Cameo Carrier had led Chevy forcefully into the sporty pickup race; in mid-1958 the Cameo was succeeded by the Fleetside, which applied its principle of full-width rear body styling to a more moderately priced truck.
Designed mainly to rival the slick Ford Styleside line, the Fleetside's chief design feature was its "jet pod" side sculpture, terminating in round taillamps. It had the usual payload ratings, double-wall steel cargo box, and an ultra-wide tailgate.
Conventional narrow-box pickups continued under the Stepside label, but it was the stylish Fleetside that generated the sales action. Quad headlamps and bolder grilles had come along in 1958.
The 1959 body showed little change, though it suggested speed by exchanging its jet plane fender badges for missile-shaped pieces, and wore a bolder hood emblem. Two-toning was revised so the color break split along the character line, with upper body color on the chrome-trimmed side sculpturing and lower body color on rear cab roof posts.
Power came from the veteran 235-cid six or 283-cid V-8. Transmissions were three-speed with and without overdrive, four-speed, and Hydra-matic. Positraction limited-slip differential was a new option.
Standard wheelbase was still 114 inches, giving a 6.5-foot bed, but a 123-inch wheelbase with 8.3-foot bed was optional. Ford had the edge, with a full nine-foot box available.
Enhancing this sturdy-looking pickup were unitized cab construction, a 1000-square-inch wraparound windshield, 18-inch steering wheel, coil-spring seats, and face-level ventilation.
"These," said Chevy, "are the best-looking truck cabs that ever came down the road!"
Collectible Pluses for the 1959 Chevrolet Fleetside Pickup
- Slick, up-to-date styling
- Good performance
- Sound build quality
- Parts in good supply
- A popular model
- Not expensive
- Easy on gas
Collectible Minuses for the 1959 Chevrolet Fleetside Pickup
- Fairly common
- Performance not appreciated
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