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THE UNIQUE YEAR: THE ’58 CHEVROLET

1958 Chevy History

Revised August 10 2000

PART A UNIQUENESS EXPLAINED

In many respects, as will be explained below, the 1958 Model Chevrolet passenger cars and Sedan deliveries were unique compared to all other years' models since World War II. But first, a little design history.

Design

The December 1957 issue of Motor Trend magazine set out the various dates for the design history of the then new 1958 model cars/vans. It was stated that the initial meeting of the stylists of Pontiac Studio and General Motors Advanced Body Design Studios, One, Two and Three, was headed by Clare Mackichan, Chief Designer of Chevrolet, later to be Chief of Design at Opel in Germany and responsible for the "'Baby 'Vette", the Opel GT. The meeting was called to discuss the proposed new 'A' series body shell which Chevrolet and Pontiac would share. More so in Canada where Canadian Pontiacs used Chevrolet running gear, as will be mentioned later.

In May 1956, the '58 designs were finished, very much under the influence of GM's Chief Designer, Harley Earl.

However, the Pontiac '58 Models took longer to finalize, and it seems as though Clay Models of full-size were still being altered by December 1956. This work also extended to the Canadian Pontiacs, which would again share the Chevrolet ‘A’ Body and chassis/running gear with ‘Pontiac’ clips, and rear ends. The relationship here between Chevrolet (and Pontiac) Engineering and General Motors of Canada Engineering was explained to me by Paul W. Gillan, the Pontiac Chief Designer.

He said "Pontiac Studio at GM's Detroit design staff took the released Chevy cars and transformed them to Pontiac designs with body side moldings, new Pontiac front end treatment, interiors, wheel discs and sometimes new pressings to the rear fenders.... Consequently the RHD on the Chevy was used verbatim on the Pontiacs".

At the time, GM of Canada was under the Presidency of Ted Walker and General Sales Manager was Jeff Humphrey. However, we now know that GM Overseas Operations were involved as to the models assembled overseas from GM of Canada (as well as GM in the USA) CKD kits.

Having said above about dates, we know that decisions about L.H.D. and R.H.D. cars were being made by mid-June as 1956 GM of Canada Engineering revised the model availability between February and June 1957. This I believe indicates that decisions were made as to the Chevrolet models first and the Pontiacs subsequently: the dates then 'Stack-up'.

I mention subsequently about R.H.D CKD cars in Australia and South Africa. Dates on the back of photographs of S.U.P. cars sent by GM of Canada to GM Holden's and magazine announcements of '58 models indicate that priority in production was given to North American market cars, with Export cars following on later. It seems as though one of each car was sent for local assemblers to establish how each new model was built, armed with drawings. Thus, it was around March '58 before locally assembled cars were available, and consequently, '58 model assembly went on to March '59 or thereabouts. I have official photographs from Australia indicating a date of 5th March 1958.

One-year only body.

In the Fall of 1956 a young Designer, Chuck Jordan, was astonished to see the new Chrysler Corporation '57 model designs at the rear of Chrysler's Mound Road Plant in Detroit: this was a means of snooping which was easily achieved through the wire fence. This had been a long-running practice and this time Jordan hit the Jackpot! The latest models had Virgil Exner’s "Forward Look" for 1957, which was so startling that Jordan reported back immediately to his bosses. Jordan then re-visited with Earl's successor, William "Big Bill" Mitchell and Designer, Dave Holls. The shock of the new designs was such that a steady stream of GM Designers and Management made the trip this fence to see the new Chrysler models, which were so startling compared to the '57 models just about to be launched and '58 models set down. It was deemed too late to alter the '58 designs; though something could be done for the '59 models which were in the pipeline. However, no one at the time could have thought that although the styling was exemplary, the actual production quality was another thing altogether! That is where Chrysler unfortunately came to grief.

In fact, at the behest of the 'strong-willed' Harley Earl, a 'crash effort' was made to re-style the '58 designs, the Corporate decision having been made in December 1956. As work commenced Earl insisted that the current 'A' Bodies would do, and photographs of proposed cars indicate that this was evidenced in clay, in the New Year. However, Earl was due to retire by the end of December 1958 (I have read 1st December) and it seems as though Bill Mitchell, being slated to replace Earl, was eager to improve GM's design expertise, joined by GM President, Harlow Curtice, and the Divisional General Managers.

Harley Earl fortuitously, [or possibly found himself sent] left for Europe, probably meeting amongst others his gentlemanly colleague David ("Davey") Jones, Vauxhall's Chief Designer]. In his absence, GM designers took the remarkable step and rebelled against Earl’s dicta. Thus, for some weeks, "encouraged" by Mitchell, a parallel series of designs for '59 models was undertaken, and when Earl returned to Detroit, the new designs were presented as almost a 'fait accompli' . Earl having realized that he had been, in effect, over-ruled, then added his suggestions to the ‘rebel’ design. At this time, for reasons of economy and with only half the usual time remaining for 1959 models, the Engineering Policy Committee (in April 1957?) decided that all Divisions would use the corporate 'B' Body, all based on the Buick roofline and front doors, save that Cadillac were allowed a different roof line and a re-strike of the doors. Thus, the '58 bodies were relegated to a one-year only lifetime - unique in the history of GM.

Having said that, Pontiac Engineering came up almost by accident with the widening of their ’59 "B" Body with a widened track. This cost a great deal of money to achieve in re-engineering, but it had the side effect of improving the cars’ handling. The marketing men then stepped in and "Wide Track" was born! The Canadian Pontiacs also used the Chevrolet shell adapted to look like the U.S. Pontiacs, but because Chevrolet running gear was used, the Wide Track style body sat on the narrower Chevrolet frame which looked rather odd! This until 1969 when Canadian Pontiacs went over to using the wider Chevrolet Wagon frames.

The net result of all these machinations, therefore, was that the '58 Chevrolets and Canadian Pontiacs used the 'A' body for one year only and the Impala (and Caprice 1965 on) used the 'B' body until the end of Canadian productions (November 1984) and US production (August 1985?)

Note here that Chevrolet version of the Rochester Fuel Injection was available on US/Canadian Chevrolets and Canadian Pontiacs during 1957 and 1958 model years, but not on Canadian Pontiacs in 1959. However, Fuel Injection may have been available on South African cars (see below).

Air Suspension was available in theory on US and Canadian Chevrolets in 1958 and 1959, but not for exports, save that the Air Suspension was to be available on Australian-assembled Canadian Pontiacs in 1959. Having said that, Autocar Magazine tested a 1958 Tarrytown-sourced CKD Bel Air 4-Door Sedan with Air Suspension, provided and assembled by GM Continental in Belgium, and were impressed by it, even though the pressure was set far too high!

Injection was not available on the 1958 Corvettes exported to Europe (V8 283 engine only) but was available on cars imported to the U.K. it seems from period advertisements.

The 1958 model year Chevrolets were the first to use the 'Impala' name, initially as we know as a sub-series of the Bel Air line the name being 'lifted' like so many others from a Motorama car; in this case an experimental Corvette. The name became a separate series in its own right from 1959 onwards. The 'Biscayne' series followed the 'Bel Air' series down the range, and the bottom-of-the-range series became the 'Del Ray', used only in 1958 model year apart from some 1957 model Club Coupes. Biscayne' became the bottom series in 1959 model year.

Turning back to the Canadian Pontiacs again, except for the nine-passenger wagon, which was not built in Canada in either the Chevrolet or Pontiac line, all models mimicked the American/Canadian Chevrolet line. Thus, the ladder ran: upwards: Pathfinder: Strato-Chief: Laurentian and Parisienne sub-series, exactly as for the Chevrolet line, except with 7xxx, instead of 1xxx model numbers. Again, the 'Pathfinder' name like the 'Del Ray' was not carried over for 1959 and the 'Parisienne' sub-series became a separate series in 1959 as well. Wagons were known as 'Safari' versions of the Pontiac models, whereas, of course, the 'Brookwood', 'Parkwood' 'Yeoman' and 'Nomad' names were applied to us and Canadian Chevrolets.

There was also a two-door Business Sedan in theory available in both Chevrolet and Pontiac lines, except that although listed in official model listings, it has been said that the model was not built in Canada.

There was, however, a Sedan Delivery model available in the U.S. and Canadian Chevrolet lines as well as for the last model year, a Pontiac Safari-badged Sedan Delivery, model 7171/7271, 449 being produced, some of which were exported (all Left Hand Drive). Of course, the Pontiac Safari, S.D. used Chevrolet engines but with a Pontiac style clip, and Pathfinder side-trim etc., but were sold by Canadian G.M.C. Dealers, and was featured in the G.M.C. truck literature.

PART 'B' (i) EXPORTS RIGHT HAND DRIVE

Chevrolet Engineering designed the export equipment and did so in succeeding model years.

However, GM of Canada Engineering handled the supply, for example, oil-bath air cleaners, heavy duty shock absorbers etc., which in Canadian Domestic or S.U.P. Export cars used Canadian sourced parts, as well as U.S. There are, of course, a number of differences between LHD and RHD Chevrolets and the same applies to their Canadian Pontiac sisters too. They include different manifolds, steering boxes, clutch actuation etc., and, of course, Dashboards.

In 1955/56/57 Model years, the Dash on RHD carts was quite simply adapted; the Dash being symmetrical in 1955 and 1956 Models years. However, in practice, the 1955 cars used an adapted 1955 Dash, the '56 and '57 an adapted '56 Dash. Both the American and Canadian-built CKD and SUP cars were available in 1958 as well as 1955 to 1957. However, there were no RHD US Pontiacs available after 1957 model year (all were ex-Pontiac, MI. plant incidentally). Thus, again 1958 was an unusual year as the RHD Canadian Pontiacs used the 1958 RHD Chevy Dash, which was also for one year only, and, therefore, unique except for 1969 Model year (the last year for factory RHD 'B' Body cars).

However, whereas the Chevrolet Models had 'Del Ray' ,‘Biscayne' etc., script in the middle of the Dash, be it LHD or RHD the RHD Canadian Pontiacs used two four-pointed stars with no script.

The export LHD Chevrolet and Canadian Pontiac Dash used either the U.S./Canadian 1-120 MPH speedometer/odometer, or a metric 0-200 KMH speedometer and metric odometer (i.e. in kilometers).

The '59/'60 RHD Chevrolets/Canadian Pontiacs used the 1959 Chevrolet Dashboards with minor differences in the Pontiac versions, i.e. 'Bow-Tie' Hi-beam Indicators (Chevrolet) and round Hi-beam Indicators and clock in the RH round binnacle (Canadian Pontiac).

As is generally known the 1958 Chevrolets were built in several US GM plants, as well as in Oshawa, Ontario plant. However, it is little appreciated that only Tarrytown, New York plant built US cars for export, with Oshawa producing the balance. Oshawa plant also built Canadian Pontiacs whereas all US Pontiacs were built at Pontiac, Michigan plant and all were LHD, SUP or CKD

As mentioned above, SUP or CKD cars were either exported as kits for assembly overseas with local parts to satisfy local Government restrictions, which could be as high as 45% of the total assembly. However, some models were only available in LHD, or RHD ex-Oshawa the attached list sets out the Models which were available.

In practice, only certain models were exported and those from Oshawa are listed.

Right Hand Drive cars and vans are the rarest 1958 models and it is believed that Oshawa export production outstripped Tarrytown exports. It should be explained here that US Right Hand Drive cars have 'ACC:E-RHD' on the body tags, because right drive equipment was deemed to be an (Export) 'Accessory', whereas Oshawa-built cars were stamped 'EXP RHD' or 'EXP RD' for 'Export RHD'. To further complicate GM's 'Diplomatic' sales office were based in Oshawa, and so export 'Diplomatic' cars were all, in theory, Oshawa assembled, although there is evidence of US assembled cars being acquired as well for Embassies overseas. (I should mention here that Commonwealth countries have 'High Commissions' in other Commonwealth countries with 'High Commissioners instead of Ambassadors). 'ACC: -E' appeared on 1958 models for the first time.

These Diplomatic cars were, of course, tax-free imports and treated specially. Thus, they acquired separate model numbers from export cars - e.g. model 'XXXXDOM' (for DiplOMomatic LHD) or 'DOM RD' for DiplOMatic Right Hand Drive'. This description is known on a 1968 Right Hand Drive car assembled, and St. Therese, Quebec, so the initials were used for some years. Some Diplomatic cars had flag holders as well, although no doubt some had bullet proofing!

As mentioned before, the Right Drive cars used an adapted 1958 LHD Dash.

Because the RHD Saginaw steering box went where the standard heater went, no standard factory heaters were fitted in RHD cars. However, it is possible that in some cars a factory recirculating heater was fitted as was fitted in later years.

However, Smiths Industries heaters were installed, either by importers or on assembly of CKD units. Smiths were (and are) a UK Company with subsidiaries in South Africa and Australia, etc., whose locally produced heaters were installed by GM overseas plants. These heaters are available new again, or can be refurbished, by a company called Clayton in the UK. They were installed with ducting along the frame rails to demist the rear screen.

The attachment of the steering box in RHD cars was not as efficient as in LHD cars, and cracking of frames and boxes are not unknown. Further, the 1958 models were renowned for rusting, and research indicates that more 1959 and later models have survived overseas. However, there are still 1958 models to be found in scrapyards in Australia and possibly South Africa.

Why were Canadian cars exported in such large numbers relative to us exports? And why RHD?

The reason lies in history and seems to be that as the British horse vehicle drivers sat on the right of the cart or coach, and drove on the left, keeping a position relative to the centre of the road, British Empire countries most (British) Commonwealth countries adopted the same practices. I gather that the U.S. and European drivers sat on the left, hence LHD cars. However, various countries including Italy, Canada (up to 1947 in one Newfoundland province) and Sweden (6 September 1967) switched from driving on the left to the right.

I understand that about 25% of countries still drive on the left, including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, certain West Indian Islands, India and S.E. Asia/Japan. Further, Commonwealth countries used to charge lower import duties on cars and parts from other Commonwealth countries, or were not subject to outright bans or exchange controls, hence, the imported set out below. However, all GM cars in the Fifties, to end of assembly by GM Nordiska, Stockholm, Sweden (ceased assembly with 1956 models) were LHD.

Assembly Plants

Canadian export models were coded internally 'X1', 'X4', 'X5' and 'X9'for cars which were S.U.P. (fully assembled), CKD for Australia, New Zealand, and the Rest of the World respectively. However, all RHD CKD V8 Chevrolet Parkwood Wagons, Model 1693 were assembled in South Africa, as were all Canadian Pontiac Strato-Chief 4-Door Sedans, Model 7549 (equivalent to Chevrolet Biscayne '6' 1549). A known Parkwood Wagon in Australia has the following description:

STYLE 58-1693 X 9: VIN: SA K 142658V.

which indicates the use of the 'X' coding by not only GM of Canada but also assembly plants.

AUSTRALIA : General Motors Holden's Property Limited.

All '58 model Chevrolets assembled by Holden, were Canadian CKD Model 1549 4-Door '6' cylinder Biscaynes with manual transmission and steering.

All bodies were assembled at Woodville plant near Adelaide, South Australia and apart from cars assembled at Elizabeth, near Adelaide, South Australia ('A' code) were shipped by rail to be assembled with the chassis at Dandenong, near Melbourne, Victoria ('M'), Pagewood, near Sydney, NSW ('S'), Acica Ridge, near Brisbane, Queensland ('B') and Perth, Western Australia ('P). There was also a manufacturing plant/test facility at Dandenong, near Melbourne.

All Australian Pontiacs were Model 7549 4-Door Strato-Chiefs, again manual gearbox and transmission.

As will be mentioned below, all cars were exported CKD with windscreens, but not other glass which was locally supplied, plus tyres, two colours of leather seating, hoses, carpets, door panels, headlights, and of course, the paint schemes were locally designed, using Holden 'Special' colours, some two-tone.

The Australian VIN numbers used the Canadian VIN of the CKD kit with an added suffix on the end or prefix in front or possibly an abbreviation of the model except for known Brisbane cars:

e.g. 8 1569815M is from the Melbourne plant

8 154970436B is from the Brisbane plant

S 81570768 is from the Sydney plant.

Body numbers began with '1' for each plant. Australian VIN numbers were hard-stamped into the chassis next to the left-hand suspension let except for Sydney where it was stamped into the chassis under the front passenger door.

For production numbers see the attached schedule.

Some cars were imported S.U.P. privately or for Diplomats in Canberra, ACT, or even by Dealers.

TOTAL OSHAWA C.K.D. CHEVROLET MODEL 1549X4 for Australia: 1,152 and PONTIAC MODEL 7549X4 for Australia: 192

 

NEW ZEALAND : General Motors New Zealand Limited.

All 1958 Model cars were assembled at Petone, near Wellington, and were all Model 1849 Bel Air V8 283 in3 4-Door Sedans, probably with vinyl interiors. No Canadian Pontiacs were assembled in 1958 Model year (1959 was the first year for Pontiac assembly).

However, some S.U.P. cars were imported privately, or by Embassies etc.

It is believed that all New Zealand cars had the VIN stamped on the left-hand side of the cowl, e.g. MODEL:CHEV-NZ-1849 SERIAL XXXX, which was a sequential number. Note: 'NZ' was the plant code!

TOTAL OSHAWA C.K.D. MODEL 1849X4 for New Zealand: 384

 

SOUTH AFRICA : General Motors South African Property Limited, Port Elizabeth.

General Motors South Africa Property Ltd., in Port Elizabeth assembled all South African-assembled CKD Chevrolets and US/Canadian Pontiacs on South Africa's southern coast, the plant also building Frigidaire domestic appliances and locomotives.

Some cars were imported S.U.P. at great cost including Impalas -rumours suggest the import duty was 100%.

Example VIN numbers were: STYLE 58-1149, SAK 30128 where 'K' is the year code for '58 ('M' was 1959 model year)

Another is STYLE '58-1693X9, SAK 14268 V. Where '14268' is the engine number 'V' indicates a V8 engine.

The Chevrolets ex-Tarrytown were the last U.S. RHD Chevrolets until possibly late 1967 and 1968 Model Chevy II models which were only assembled in Willow Run plant from June 1967 (switched from Oshawa No.2 plant).

Canadian Chevrolet CKD kits were:

4-Door Biscayne Sedan Model 1649 - V8 cylinder 283 in3 manual transmission/steering

4-Door Brookwood Wagons Model 1693 - V8-Cylinder 283 in3 Engine, Manual Transmission/steering

U.S. CKD kits were:

2-Door Del Ray Sedan Model 1141 - 6-Cylinder engine, manual transmission/steering

4-Door Del Ray Sedan Model 1149 - ditto -

2-Door Del Ray Business Sedan ('Utility') Model 1121 - ditto-

4-Door Biscayne Sedan Model 1549 - ditto -

4-Door Bel Air Sedan Model 1849 V8 283 in 3 engine plus

optional power steering and manual transmission or Powerglide and Power brakes

4-Door Bel Air Hardtop Model 1839 plus optional Powerglide

and optional power steering and Brakes

Note the 'Utility', which replaced the 1957 Model Business Sedan which had a locally produced pick-up bed, or 'Bakkie' in the trunk, peculiar to South Africa. ('Bakkie' is Africaans for a small tray).

TOTAL OSHAWA C.K.D. CHEVROLET MODEL 1693X9 for South Africa: 504

Canadian Pontiac CKD kits were:

4-Door Sedan Strato-Chief Model 7549 - with 6-cylinder engine, manual transmission and steering.

4-Door Hardtop Laurentian LHD Model 7739 with 6-cylinder engine, Powerglide transmission, Power brakes and power steering.

TOTAL OSHAWA C.K.D.PONTIAC MODEL 7549X9: 1,680

U.S. Pontiac CKD kits were:

4-Door Sedan Super Chief LHD Model 1849D with 370in3 V8 164 BHP engine, Stratoflight, Hydra-matic transmission, power steering and power brakes.

The Super Chiefs were assembled from kits, ex-Pontiac, MI plant. This was the final year for U.S. Pontiacs assembled in South Africa.

South African cars were also exported throughout Southern Africa, e.g. Southern and Northern Rhodesia, Kenya, etc., all RHD, and some were definitely exported to Australia and New Zealand in small numbers. This may have been 'officially' or by servicemen, tourists and re-settlers taking their cars with them, or by Dealers importing cars. It is impossible to say yet if there was official importation - certainly GM Holden's exported cars to South Africa, and as a result of strict Exchange Control regulations, it is feasible that cars were imported in reverse in lieu of 'cash'.

Subsequently, cars came back to South Africa from adjoining countries as the political systems changed.

PART B (ii) EXPORTS - LEFT HAND DRIVE

As mentioned above, Diplomatic LHD cars ex-Oshawa had Model '1XXX' or '7XXX' then 'DOM'. LHD export cars ex-Oshawa had Model '1XXX EXP' or '7XXX EXP'. U.S. Export S.U.P. cars had 'ACC:E' on the cowl tag, indicating 'Export' equipment as an 'Accessory'.

U.S. Chevrolets ex Tarrytown are believed to have had 'ACC:E' on the body place, for Accessory: Export equipment. As a matter of interest, 1957 RHD U.S. Chevrolets and Pontiacs had 'RHD' after 'ACC'. These cars had, e.g., oil bath, air cleaners, Heavy Duty Shock-Absorbers etc., land sometimes 'E-2-Eye' tinted windows.

There was a total of 118 l.h.d. SUP and CKD Chevrolets exported from Oshawa, and 2,379 r.h.d. There were in addition 3,203 l.h.d. Pontiacs exported SUP or CKD and 2,047 r.h.d.

LHD U.S. and Canadian Chevrolets and Pontiacs were assembled at various plants overseas such as:

General Motors Continental N.V. Antwerpen/Anvers,(Antwerp) Belgium,

U.S. Chevrolets and US/Canadian Pontiacs!

4-Door Sedan Del Ray Model 1149-6S

4-Door Sedan Biscayne Model 1549-6S

and Model 1549-6A

2-Door Hardtop Bel Air Model 1731-6S

and Model 1731-6A

4-Door Hardtop Bel Air Model 1739-6S

and Model 1739-6A

and Model 1739-8S

and Model 1839-8A-PS

4-Door Sedan Bel Air Model 1749-6S

and Model 1749-6A

and Model 1849-8S

and Model 1849-8A

Impala Convertible Model 1767-6S

and Model 1867-8A

and Model 1867-8A-PS

 

4-Door Brookwood wagon

(six passenger) Model 1593-6S

(nine passenger)Model 1594-6S

Where:

"6" is for 6-cylinder 235 in3 engine

"8" is for V-8 cylinder 2833 engine

'S' is for Synchromesh 3-speed gearbox

'A' is for Powerglide Automatic gearbox

'PS' is for Power Steering

Antwerp VIN codes were the U.S. or Canadian VIN plus 'CA': prefix and a separate plate with the Company name.

Gross vehicle weight (G.V.W.) etc.

1958 production: 3583 Chevrolet 312 Pontiac

1959 Production: 3030 Chevrolet 448 Pontiac

GM INTERNATIONAL KØBENHAVEN (COPENHAGEN) DENMARK

2-Door Sedan Delivery Del Ray Model 1171 6-cylinder engine and (US CKD) manual transmission

4-Door Sedan Chevrolet (U.S.CKD)

Biscayne Model 1549 6-cylinder engine manual transmission

4-Door Hardtop Bel Air Model l739 6-cylinder engine (U.S. CKD)

4-Door Hardtop Pontiac (Canadian CKD)

Laurentian Model 7739 6-cylinder engine

A known Copenhagen VIN is:

TYPE C 58 1549

IC 1898

this is on a Biscayne. However, the car has had Bel Air chrome bars on the front fenders from new, indicating non-standard upgrading of trim, which was done at various plants overseas. Also, the known Laurentian has larger four-point stars on the rear fenders than Canadian-assembled cars. The Sedan Delivery was advertised in the Chevrolet Truck advertisements. Only one model 1171 was exported by GM of Canada and the photo of an Onyx black car in the advertisement has a one-piece (Canadian) Bumper!

GENERAL MOTORS SUISSE SA, BIEL/BIENNE, SWITZERLAND

US/Canadian Chevrolets and Pontiacs

1958 production (calendar year) 629 Chevrolets [U.S.-SOURCED]

1959 production " " 689 Chevrolets [CANADIAN-SOURCED?]

1958 production (Calendar year) 48 Pontiac [CANADIAN-SOURCED MODEL 7549X9?]

1959 production " " 48 Pontiac (last year for Pontiac assembly) [CANADIAN-SOURCED?]

VIN Codes were 'SS' for 'SUISSE' and were probably prefixing US/Canadian V/N numbers as was the case with Swiss-assembled Vauxhalls and 1960's Chevrolets.

Other known plants were:

GENERAL MOTORS DE MEXICO SA - Mexico City ('M' Code ?)

GENERAL MOTORS VENEZOLANA SA - Caracas, Venezuela

GENERAL MOTORS DO BRASIL SA - Sao Caetano, Brazil

GENERAL MOTORS DEL ECUADOR SA - Quito, Ecuador

GENERAL MOTORS DE PERU SA - Lima, Peru

GENERAL MOTORS ARGENTINA SA - Buenos Aires, Argentina

which have not checked out yet!

CANADIAN S.U.P. CARS

Canadian cars used V8 engines from McKinnon Industries, St. Catherines, Ontario ('prefixed "K"? for l.h.d. and "R" prefix for RHD). 6-cylinder engines were produced by Windsor Transmission Plant in Windsor, Ontario. It appears that both right-hand drive and left-hand drive Pontiac Astro-Six 261 engines had "W" prefixes for "Windsor Transmission Plant". However, Tonawanda, N.Y.-built engines ('T' prefix) have been noted in CKD Export cars as well as SUP cars. Flint-built engines had an 'F' prefix, and again, such an engine has turned up in a South African car. Various Canadian parts were ostensibly the same as U.S. cars, but known differences were radiators, Framm Oil Filters, Oil-bath air cleaners etc.

The V.I.N. numbers on Canadian cars are different to U.S. cars, because only Oshawa, Ontario plant was operating at the time in question. A typical example is a 4-Door Bel Air exported RHD to Singapore, then imported to Australia by an Australian serviceman,. The VIN is 8174921248, engine R304483. . What should also be noted is that firstly Pontiac Sales were much higher in Canada than in the USA i.e. in 1958 model a year of 72,358 (Chevrolet) and 53,072 (Pontiac) to which should be added some higher priced U.S. built cars. Also, the 1958 recession did not hit Canada as much as the USA and was over by the Fall of 1958 so car sales did not 'dip' as much as in the United States.

PART C ENGIMA

What is an 'enigma' so far as Canadian production in concerned is set out in the schedule of model numbers. The vast majority of model numbers do not tally with production model numbers and that at various times models were substituted or dropped from production.

There was also a space for a car-based pick-up. There never was a 1958 Model Chevy car based Pick-up as there was in South Africa in 1955, 1956 and 1957 (and earlier) or as per the 1959 El Camino. It is interesting to contemplate what one would have looked like! However, as the 1958 Models were only around for one year, this was not likely. However, Chevy were clearly not able to complete with Ford's Ranchero in 1958!

There never was a Bedford Pick-up based on the 1958-1962 model Vauxhall PA series (like 2/3rd) scale 1958 A Body) but there was a PA engined powered Bedford Truck-cab Pick-up, for 196o, which was a complete flop, so perhaps the lack of 1958 Pick-up is justified!)

PART D ENGINES

All RHD cars had identical engine specifications to North American engines, be they Chevrolet or Pontiac. It is believed that all LHD cars exported were either 6-cylinder or (in the case of Chevrolets) V8-283 in3.

Known engine codes were:

F - Flint

T - Tonawanda

R - McKinnon Industries, St.Catherine's, Ontario

M - Mexico City

Engines

Chevrolet (a) 235-5 in3 six cylinder 'Blue Flame Six' 14.5 BHP @ 4200 rpm; 3.56 bore; 3.94 in stroke.

(b) 283 in3V8 cylinder 'Turbo-Fire' 185 BHP @ 4600 rpm; 3.875 bore; 3 in stroke. 8.5:1 Compression Ratio

Pontiac (a) 261 in3 six cylinder 'Strato-six' 148 BHP @ 4800 r.p.m.; bore 3.94 in stroke 8.5:1 Compression Ratio

(b) 283 in3 V8 cylinder 'Strato-Flash' as with Chevrolet Chevrolet Truck 261 in3 'Jobmaster' six-cylinder, 142 BHP @ 4000 rpm; bore/stroke as per Pontiac; 7.3:1 Compression Ratio.

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Links Car Parts and web site for 1958 Chevy

  • Por15
  • no web page but great used parts.. Auto City Classic, Inc, 28433 highway 65 ne, isanti, mn 55040.. phone 763-444-5880
  • K & N filters
  •  http://www.carsinc.com/chevy/1958_1964_chevy
  •  http://www.hemmings.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/classifieds.parts
  • http://www.56chevy.com/1958.htm
  • http://www.shafersclassic.com/chevy/catalog/Chevy-58-64.pdf
  • http://www.parts123.com/PartFrame.asp?ZTM=cadegihb&GHOME=www.shafersclassic.com&TITLE=Shafer%27s_Classic_Reproductions
  • http://www.qozi.com/chevrolet/  Chevrolet Resources: chevrolet related news, books and web resources
  • http://www.cjhilton.com/models/58chevy.htm
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    Buddy Holly's '58 Impala Found in Texas--By Chris Mc Loone. March 1999

    LUBBOCK, Texas­In Buddy Holly's home town, it's not uncommon for someone to claim he or she has an item that once belonged to the music legend. So about 15 years ago, when a man offered Buddy Holly's '58 Chevy Impala to Bill Clement, he didn't pay much attention. "That's a running joke around these parts," says Clement, owner of Lubbock's 1950s radio station--1590 AM KDAV--and a 400-piece Chevrolet car collection. "Everybody's got Buddy Holly's everything."

    But about a year later, the man called Clement again and said that he had to get rid of the car, and reiterated that it had once been Holly's car. Clement's interest was piqued and, after some investigating, he discovered that the car had actually belonged to Buddy Holly. With the Chevy in his possession, Clement set out to find a collision repair shop to restore the car, and a true labor-of-love story began.

    Proving the Authenticity

    After he received the second call, Clement contacted Holly's brother, Larry, to find out if Holly had ever owned a '58 Chevy. Larry Holly checked with his mother, who confirmed that her son had indeed owned a 1958 Chevy Impala, and she had the title to prove it. Larry Holly delivered it to Clement, who went to take a look at the vehicle. Clement found the car at the bottom of a pile of wrecks at a body shop storage yard. Using a dentist's mirror to get a look at the manufacturer's plate inside the car, he found that the last four numbers on the plate matched those on the title.

    Clement later learned that in the early '70s, the owner of the body shop had received a call from a man claiming that his car had been hit in the rear. The person who'd run into the car had insurance, so the man who had possession of the car brought it to the shop and the insurance company agreed to pay for the damages. The problem was that the individual who had the car did not have the title.

    At the time of the collision, says Clement, Holly's father still technically owned the car, and it is unclear how the person who possessed the car came to have it. Holly's father signed an affidavit so that this individual could get the car fixed. But after the insurance company issued a check, the man who had brought the wreck to the shop took the money and abandoned the car.

    Clement now has the title as well as the canceled check drawn on Buddy Holly and the Crickets' account to purchase the car. "And I've got a lot of paperwork from years gone by that substantiates the ownership chain," says Clement.

    Once he acquired the car, Clement had to decide what to do with it. "I've had it for 10 years just sitting, trying to decide the best way to show the car because it's rough," says Clement. "It still had the original paint--original everything--but it was very rough. We finally decided to do a restoration on it after a lot of [input from various parties]. It still has Buddy's hand print on it somewhere. It will be his car, but it will be a restoration--kind of like the axe that Washington used to cut down the cherry tree. It's had two handles and three heads subsequently, but it's still the original axe."

    Restoring the Car

    The car languished in that pile of wrecks for about 15 years after being abandoned. According to Clement, as soon as the body shop owner realized he was stuck with the car, he began to remove useable items such as the battery, tires, carburetor and seats. The car was badly damaged in both the front and rear, and the trunk was rusted through.

    Now, several people are playing a role in restoring the car, which resides at Bigham Automotive and Electric Inc. under the care of Rick Bigham. The engine sits at Dubose Automotive and Machine, where technicians are working to rebuild it. Bigham came to Clement and offered to work on the car for free. "It's a matter of keeping Lubbock on the map, a matter of restoring history," says Bigham. "It will never become a private gain thing. We just don't want this to go away. I'm having fun with this. There are a lot of '58 Chevrolets around, but there's only one Buddy Holly car. It's kind of a labor-of-love type thing."

    Volunteer State Chevy Parts, located in Tennessee, is contributing parts for the car. "It seemed like the thing to do," says Don Trevitt, owner of the business. "We manufacture some of the '58 stuff. It seems like a fun project. There are few things left that we get to do that are actually fun, and this may be one of them." So far, Trevitt's company has donated sheet metal and taillights. Clement has worked with Trevitt in the past to obtain the rare parts in which Volunteer State Chevy Parts specializes. "That's how he got us to jump on board," explains Trevitt.

    After the Rebirth

    Since the car's existence became public, there has been some outside interest in purchasing the car. One casino owner in Reno called Clement with the idea of restoring the car, putting it on display at the casino and creating a '50s musical revue with Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Richie Valens and the car as the centerpiece. Another group from England came to Lubbock to take a look at the car, among them the president of the English Buddy Holly Fan Club who proposed buying the car in "as-is" condition for a "ridiculous amount of money," according to Clement. Although he stood to make a lot of money on either deal, Clement declined both.

    Plans for the car now include constructing a glass "building" in a vacant lot adjacent to Clement's radio station, or adding the car to a museum that is being built across the street from the radio station. Buddy Holly's story will be a part of the museum when it is completed.

    Clement also hopes to have the car ready for the town's annual Buddy Holly birthday party so attendees will be able to have pictures taken with the car ... and ensure that this piece of memorabilia will continue to keep Buddy Holly's memory alive.

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