348 V8 Tri-Power: 1959 Chevrolet Impala Project

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For the second year in a row, the 1959 Chevrolet was a different automobile than it had been the prior year. Chevy had moved on from its successful “Tri-Five” platform after 1957 with an all-new car in 1958. But competition from Chrysler in 1957 with its “Forward Look” products prompted Chevy to do another makeover in 1959. Tailfins were back, only flat this time like batwings, and the cars were lower than ever before. The seller’s ’59 Impala Sport Coupe is a numbers-matching vehicle with the potent Tri-Power 348 cubic inch V8 which has been rebuilt and is ready to be hooked up. Cosmetically, though the work is far from over.

So many of the automobiles that make it here on Barn Finds come with few details provided by the sellers. In this case, it goes the opposite direction, where no piece of information seems too minor not to share. This Impala is a work-in-progress with the motor having been attended to first, followed by some reinforcement of the sheet metal such as floors. But a great detail more is needed, including an all-new interior.

This Chevy comes with both its original Turboglide automatic transmission and a 4-speed manual that you could install instead (keep one, seller the other). All the numbers seem to jive as to this Impala being one potent machine when it left the factory 65 years ago with its triple 2-barrel carburetion. The odometer reflects 80,000 miles of use before going under the knife. What’s left of the Snowcrest White paint the Chevy had from the factory is still there, except on the front fenders which are replacements.

The photos show the car in various stages of assembly and the front clip and engine are only sitting in place, waiting for the buyer to keep the work going. The original glass is intact and was tinted from the factory (a plus with these “bubble tops”). The seller has gone as far as to decode the cowl tag for you, verifying that much of this car is as it was in 1959. Located in Fruita, Colorado, this Chevy apparently only had two prior owners and is looking for a third to complete a restoration. It’s available here on eBay where the bidding stands at $31,000. How cool would this 285-hp Impala be when completed?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Spearfish SpearfishMember

    Growing up ther were several ’59’s in my immediate family, notably two older brothers who had tamer versions than this, one a hardtop and the other a convertible. I have vivid memories as a kid enviously watching them tinker with their winged (never understood calling them “fins”) steeds out in the driveway. So I have carried a lifetime fondness for them, but haven’t owned one myself…yet.

    I like the approach that was taken on the restoration of this car, do the important stuff first. I might have considered doing a stealthy 409 rework of the 348, but it’s fine as is. And liking to tinker with stuff myself, I wouldn’t mind herding the “two’s” along to keep them in sync.

    Like any distinctively styled ride (especially that era) they’re certainly not for everyone, and you better not mind a lot of eyeballs on you. I really wouldn’t care either way, and it would just be fun gliding about in a winged throwback with that vintage big block rumble.

    Like 7
    • Bali Blue 504

      I too have always been fond of this year, especially the taillight end. Many of us remember when $300 would have bought a at least a couple nice ones, along with some backup parts cars.

      Like 6
  2. jeffschevelle

    This is not a tri-power car (or motor). And not a 4-speed car (or manual trans motor.)

    The stamp on the block decodes as a 250HP 348 with single (small) 4-barrel with an automatic transmission. Not a tri-power motor. Not a 4-speed motor.

    The ad says it has a “numbers matching” 4-speed AND the “original to car” automatic trans. Which means the 4-speed is NOT “numbers matching” at all. It might be date correct for the car, but that does not make it “numbers matching”.

    The car still has the column shift automatic column in it, and single pedal (no clutch). Just having a 4-speed trans that will fit in the car does not a 4-speed car make. One of the last pics shows a loose floor shift column (maybe) and clutch pedal setup. But good luck finding the right clutch linkage for a 348 and all the other peripheral parts. And even after you bolt all that in this car, it still is not a factory 4-speed car.

    Therefore, IMO the bidding on this car is just crazy for a low horse automatic car in that condition. Someone is going to be WAAAAAYYYY upside down when they get done with this one!

    Like 9
    • CCFisher

      Couldn’t it be the block that’s not original to the car? Is there any definitive way to know what engine came with the car, short of an invoice or window sticker? (That’s not sarcasm, I’m seriously asking. I don’t know the answer.)

      Like 0
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      Yep…..another big talker or EBAY ad libber….nice car though but ohhhh that start bid…..

      Like 0
  3. Robert West

    The wording in the ad is confusing. I believe that this is just the 4 barrel version but either way the owner is 3 hours away from being at least $31,000 richer 👍🏻

    Like 1
    • al

      just the 4 barrel version in highschool I had a number matching 250 HP 348 Impala with a 3 speed stick on the column converted it to floor shift friend had a 1959 convertible 348 tri power with turbo glide trans he never could even come close to beating my 58

      Like 0
  4. Kek

    I read matching automatic or a 4 speed that can be used but only one goes with the car owner keeps the other. Obviously there can’t be two different matching trans.

    Like 1
  5. Richard B Kirschenbaum

    Nice enough. I was thrilled when dear old sensible shoes Dad bought a ’59 Biscayne 4 door post sedan (six auto of course). I still loved the outrageous styling. A lady down the street had a 2 door Impala hardtop in a lime green. Stunning, Our Chev was probably set up for Taxi service as it had a 3 speed hydro, By ’65 Chicago winters had rotted both sides with at least 6 holes that could accommodate grapefruits. Before plunking down $31 K for a project like this I’d look for a decent turnkey Ford Fairlane 500 Hardtop convertible and let the good times roll. Far better bang.

    Like 2
  6. RtdreepMember

    When I was a dirt-poor college student in the 80s, I had the need and somehow the opportunity to buy a 1959 Impala 283 with Powerglide for $700. Because I washed cars at a local dealer, I had access to the service department, so I could do minor repairs myself (brakes, motor mount). The engine ran on only 7 cylinders, but still ran. When what little money I had continued to dwindle, I sold the car to my dad, who got rid of it pretty quickly. I truly would have loved to keep & restore that car. . .it was a dream to drive.

    Like 1
  7. Arlo Hatten

    And has now reached $35,400 as of this moment.

    Like 0

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