1959 Corvette


For the 1959 Corvette, the busied '58 chrome styling was cleaned up considerably. The oft-derided faux hood louvers and decklid chrome bars were now nowhere to be found. Otherwise, there were few changes from the previous model year.

The 1959 Corvette changed little from the '58 model.
The 1959 Corvette changed little from the '58 model.

Interior alterations were just as minor and just as effective. There were repositioned armrests and door handles, a shelf added beneath the passenger grab bar for extra small-item stowage space, and reshaped seats that at least now offered token lateral support. Sunvisors were a newly added option, and concave instead of flat instrument lenses (to cut down on reflections) were added to the instrument panel; a T-handle lockout for the manual transmission was included to prevent a driver from accidentally engaging reverse gear.

Powertrain choices were again unchanged, but the 1959 featured a minor mechanical alteration of major benefit: the addition of rear-trailing radius rods that helped contribute to a slightly softer ride and noticeably less rear-end steering on irregular surfaces. The rods also helped counteract rear-axle windup, which was an unfortunate byproduct of a problem with the explosive torque produced by the most powerful engines, and the RPO 684 heavy-duty brakes/suspension option was given even stiffer springs -- all of which made for better handling.

Most Corvettes could shoot through the quarter-mile in under 15 seconds, and 0-60 mph times of less than eight seconds were typical. Road & Track clocked a 290-bhp fuelie engine from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds and on to the quarter-mile mark in 14.5 seconds at 96 mph. Top speed was listed at 128 mph with the short 4.11:1 final drive.

The 1959 Corvette looked cleaner and more purposeful thanks to removal of the decklid chrome and hood ribbing.
The 1959 Corvette looked cleaner and more purposeful thanks to
removal of the decklid chrome and hood ribbing.

Brakes also received some attention, with newly optional sintered-metallic linings (RPO 686) developed by GM's Delco-Moraine Division. Priced at a mere $26.90, the option comprised three pairs of lining segments that were riveted to the primary brake shoes and five pairs of slightly thicker segments for the secondary shoes. Drums were finless with this option but were flared at their open ends to enhance cooling. The sintered linings made braking less harsh than the Cerametallic material and needed far less warming up to provide maximum braking effectiveness.

At about this time Chevrolet was working on a new and far more radical concept for America's sports car -- the so-called Q-Corvette. This was a much smaller and lighter two-seat coupe with very streamlined styling, an independent rear suspension, and a rear transaxle derived from the one being developed for Chevy's new rear-engine compact, the 1960 Corvair. Unfortunately, the Q-model would be another false start on the road to a truly new second-generation Corvette.

Production totaled 9,670 units for the 1959 model year, a slight increase over the year before. Chevy still wasn't making much money on Corvettes, but it wasn't losing any either. Sales continued their steady if modest climb for 1960, exceeding the psychologically important 10,000-unit level by exactly 261 cars.

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1953 Corvette
1954 Corvette
1955 Corvette
1956 Corvette
1957 Corvette
1958 Corvette
1959 Corvette
1960 Corvette
1961 Corvette
1962 Corvette


Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.

1959 Corvette Specifications

The 1959 Corvette featured a cleaned-up look thanks to the removal of chrome detailing, but kept all the power of its predecessor and gained a smoother ride thanks to the addition of rear-trailing radius rods. Here are the specifications for the 1959 Corvette:

The 1959 Corvette could reach a top speed of 128 mph.
The 1959 Corvette could reach a top speed of 128 mph.

Vehicle Specifications
Convertible
Wheelbase, inches 102.0
Length, inches
177.0
Width, inches
73.0
Track, inches
front: 57.0 rear: 59.0
Height, inches
52.0
Curb Weight, pounds
3,080

Mechanical Specifications (2-door convertible)

Suspension
front: Independent; upper and lower A-arms, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, antiroll bar, tubular hydraulic shock absorbers
rear: Live axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs, tubular hydraulic shock absorbers, trailing radius rods

Wheels/Tires
6.70x15

Brakes
front: 11-inch drum
rear: 11-inch drum

Transmission
3-speed manual (std)
4-speed manual (opt)
2-speed Powerglide (opt)

Standard axle ratio
3.70:1

Engine Specifications

Typeohv V-8ohv V-8ohv V-8ohv V-8 ohv V-8
Displacement, liters/cu inch4.6/283
4.6/283 4.6/2834.6/2834.6/283
Bore x stroke, inches3.875 x 3.003.875 x 3.003.875 x 3.003.875 x 3.003.875 x 3.00
Fuel Management1 x 4-bbl. 2 x 4-bbl.fuel injection2 x 4-bbl.fuel injection
Horsepower @ rpm230 @ 4800245 @ 5000250 @ 5000270 @ 6000290 @ 6200
Torque @ rpm, pound-foot300 @ 3000300 @ 3800305 @ 3800285 @ 4200290 @ 4400

Published Performance Numbers

Acceleration
250 hp, 4-sp man.
290 hp, 4-sp man.
0-60 mph, sec
7.8
6.8
0-100 mph, sec
NA
15.5
1/4-mile, sec @ mph
15.7 @ 90
14.9 @ 96

(Source: Road & Track)

Vehicle Production and Base Prices

Car Type
Production
Price
2-door convertible
9,670
$3,875.00

Options and Production

Option
Production
Price
Heater
8,909
$102.25
AM Radio, signal seeking
7,001
149.80
Parking Brake Alarm
3,601
5.40
Courtesy Lights
3,601
6.50
Windshield Washer
7,909
16.15
Radiator Fan Clutch
67
21.55
Sunshades
3,722
10.80
Wheels, 15 x 5.5
214
0.00
Whitewall Tires, 6.70 x 15
8,173
31.55
Powerglide Automatic Transmission
1,878
199.10
Auxiliary Hardtop
5,481
236.75
Power Windows
587
59.20
Two-Tone Paint
2,931
16.15
245 hp Engine
1,417
150.65
270 hp Engine
1,846
182.95
Power Operated Folding Top
661
139.90
250 hp Engine Fl
175
484.20
290 hp Engine Fl
745
484.20
Positraction Rear Axle
4,170
48.45
Heavy Duty Brakes and Suspension
142
425.05
4-speed Manual Transmission
4,175
188.30
Metallic Brakes
333
26.90
Blackwall Tires, 6.70 x 15 nylon
NA
NA
24 Gallon Fuel Tank
NA
NA

Color Choices and Production

Color Choice
Production Color Choice
Production
Tuxedo Black1,594
Classic Cream
223
Frost Blue
1,024
Crown Sapphire
888
Roman Red
1,542
Snowcrest White
3,354
Inca Silver
957


Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1953 Corvette
1954 Corvette
1955 Corvette
1956 Corvette
1957 Corvette
1958 Corvette
1959 Corvette
1960 Corvette
1961 Corvette
1962 Corvette


Looking for more information on Corvettes and other cars? See:

  • Corvettes: Learn about the history behind each model year and see Corvette photographs.
  • Corvette Specifications: Get key specifications, engine and transmission types, prices, and production totals.
  • Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum draws Corvette lovers from all over the world. Learn more about the museum.
  • Corvette Pictures: Find pictures of the hottest classic and current-year Corvettes.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
  • Consumer Guide Corvette Reviews: Considering a Corvette purchase? See what Consumer Guide has to say.