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History 1959 Chevy rear end lift at speed?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Dave Downs, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. Dave Downs
    Joined: Oct 25, 2005
    Posts: 842

    Dave Downs
    from S.E. Penna

    At a memorial service for my uncle last week we got to talking about some of the cars he had owned. One in particular was a '59 Chevy and the remark was made that certain Highway Patrol /State Police would not use them as they were supposed to 'lift' in the rear at high speed due to the shape of the fins. I do remember such rumors 'back-in-the-day' but don't know if it was real or an 'urban legend'. Personally, I think 'urban legend' because even though I'm not a NASCAR fan I don't remember any stories of them flying off the track.......
  2. I'm going to agree with the 'urban legend' train of thought. HRP
  3. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,522


    That "fact" has been kicked around and disproved for years.
  4. Dave Downs
    Joined: Oct 25, 2005
    Posts: 842

    Dave Downs
    from S.E. Penna

    Any fact to the rumor about them not being used as Patrol/State cars? That could have happened based on a misconception at the time.
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  5. When I was a kid the story was of 59 Chevys with severe rearend lift on the New Jersey Turnpike.
    Must have been caused by all the potholes.
    Joined: Jan 2, 2003
    Posts: 3,626

    1. HAMB Old Farts' Club

    The shape of the fin is wrong, as opposed to an airplane wing. Even if it did lift, you are unloading the rear wheels, thus loss of traction and speed. The surface area of the fins , as opposed to the weight of the car, cancels any lift. Myth!-MIKE
  7. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 3,938

    from Ks

    Mine was fine till it hit about 200 mph.:D then the convertible top blew off.
    medworker, Saxman, LOST ANGEL and 2 others like this.
  8. Seems that some police departments used them.


    and this is a photo of a North Dakota State Highway patrol car. HRP

  9. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 5,791

    seb fontana
    from ct

    What could the top speed of a 59 police car be?
  10. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547


    I would say the shape of the roof would be more of a factor if the story is true not enough surface area on them fins to account for anything .
  11. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 5,514

    from Idaho

    Old timer retired ISP captain told me the 348 4 bbl Powerglide wagon stationed at our local port of entry "ran off the gun", meaning over 127 MPH.
    El Caminos with a lot of power & dumb drivers got into trouble a lot ...
  12. It is an urban legend, that was disproved at some point by putting one in a wind tunnel. They actually produce a small amount of downforce. they did find that a sidewind could produce lift, but the rate was the same as the front fender, so as to have no effect. this was all in the forward direction. When the car was turned around backwards, the fins started producing lift at 50 mph.
    302GMC likes this.
  13. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,218

    from California

    silly myth. everyone knows it was the 61 Dodges that lifted at high speeds.
  14. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 1,467

    from ohio

    Urban legend = Bullshit in redneck talk in my neck of the woods!!
  15. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,959

    Rusty O'Toole

    Pretty much all cars had slight lift in the rear. This is why spoilers were invented, the lift could affect handling at speeds of 120 - 150 MPH.

    59 Chev was no worse than average or not much. Best were Chrysler products, the big vertical tailfins really added stability at speed especially in cross winds.

    An interesting comparison was the 61 Chrysler and 62 Chrysler. Both used the same body but the 62 was shorn of fins. Andy Granatelli said you could definitely feel a difference at high speeds, the older car being more stable.

    If you notice, they started adding spoilers to fast cars not long after tail fins went out.
  16. Torkwrench
    Joined: Jan 28, 2005
    Posts: 2,357


    It depends on how much the driver has been drinking. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    If nothing else check the speeds turned at the NASCAR races in 1959. Weren't they up around 140MPH or so at Daytona? Another way of looking at it, is to compare a 59 Chevy to a Cessna. Compare the overall weight of each and the wing area of the Cessna to the fin area of a 59 Chevy. A 59 Chevy weighs ALOT more than a Cessna, and has much smaller "wings".

    From my own personal experience as a long time 59 Chevy owner, they are very stable cars.....Especially in the rear. The front end of mine starts getting a bit light at about 100mph. All the air that gets pushed out of the way tends to lift the front end just a little bit. Otherwise, it's an extremely solid and stable car.

    You do have to watch out when washing a 59 at the car wash. If you don't spray the underside of the fins at an angle, you'll get a bath.
  17. lewk
    Joined: Apr 8, 2011
    Posts: 727

    from Mt

    When stopping suddenly from high speed, they were know to lift in the rear.

    Joined: May 8, 2010
    Posts: 267


    Myth or not,

    I had a 59 4 door post sedan, 6 cylinder car, that at 80 MPH there was a discernible lift, the lift was around 1", and did not affect the way the car drove. I also had a 61 4 door post sedan that at 100 MPH the top of the drivers door used to pull out, approx. a 1/4", again no affect to driving, a friends 64 4 door post car had issues with the front lifting at 110 MPH, this lift was around 2".
  19. aerorocket
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 488

    from N.E. P.A.

    A 59 chevy won the Daytona 500 in 1960.
  20. My dad could pipe in here. Pale yellow '59 convertible, white top, green interior (yep), 348 with three on the tree ... broken many a speedometer cable coming down Crossroads hill in Beckley West Virginia.. Gary Campbell, class of '64. I'm here, so I guess it couldn't lift all that much. Who knows ?
  21. Katuna
    Joined: Feb 25, 2005
    Posts: 1,807

    from Clovis,Ca.

    Sounds like a case for The Myth Busters. I'm sure they could destroy several good parts cars in the process.
  22. traffic61
    Joined: Jun 15, 2009
    Posts: 1,415

    from Owasso, OK

    Don't know much about lift, but I hear tell they eat bicycles.
    302GMC likes this.
  23. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 5,482


    Another BS myth, Kind of like the rolls and pleats of a Tijuana interior being stuffed with Horse Shit.
    2racer likes this.
  24. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 2,528

    Dick Stevens

    Moral of this story, don't drive over 49 MPH in reverse, it could be hazardous to your health! :rolleyes:o_O:eek::p
  25. papajohn
    Joined: Nov 2, 2006
    Posts: 778


    My grandfather bought a brand new '59. He hated it on highway ramps and said it lifted in the rear as he was going fast around the ramp. I think he sold it after 1yr because of this.
    Joined: Jan 24, 2010
    Posts: 1,116

    from IDAHO

  27. Doesn't the rest of the story involve JATO rockets strapped to the roof and the car taking flight into a Mesa somewhere in Arizona....
  28. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,245


    Let us not forget that this was the Jet age and the beginning of Interstates & Turnpikes. Many had the belief that they could fly. My Dad bought a 59 Pontiac for that very reason, seemed real to him I guess. Pontiac had two small V shaped fins and Wide Track.

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