In the 1950s, most consumer tastes were changing from flashy show cars to scaled-down, family-oriented vehicles. Of course, there were some exceptions, like the Corvette and Mustang. But for the most part, the trend was in the opposite direction. Chevrolet Biscaynes epitomized this movement. These roomy vehicles lacked some of the chrome and other trim that characterized the vehicles of the 1940s and early 1950s.
The Biscayne was conceived as a fleet vehicle, and such sales were strong throughout its production run. But Biscaynes were also quite popular with individual consumers who wanted a no-frills, full-size automobile. Today, the Biscayne is one of the most sought-after collector cars, especially the modified street racing “Bisquick” vehicles.
First Generation (1958-60)
The 1958 Biscayne was actually a mid-priced sedan. The lower-priced Delray disappeared after the 1959 model year.
Chevrolet also sold a number of Fleetmaster Biscaynes. As the name implies, these vehicles catered to police departments and other fleet customers who wanted large, lightweight, no-frills vehicles. Fleetmasters had painted chrome parts instead of chrome trim, as well as a lower upholstery grade, no passenger-side visor, and no cigarette lighter. In 1959, that was a big deal.
Second Generation (1961-64)
By the early 1960s, post-World War II prosperity continued almost unabated. So, most customers, even fleet customers, did not connect with the scaled-down Biscaynes. Fleetmasters, along with three-seat utility Biscaynes, were still available, but in very limited numbers.
These Biscaynes had slightly larger and lighter engines than their predecessors. A few Biscaynes even had V8 engines (the aforementioned Bisquicks). These cars were marketed to drag racers.
Third Generation (1965-70)
By the mid 1960s, the rounded look and fins which characterized 1950s cars had almost completely fallen out of favor. As a result, these Biscaynes were almost entirely rectangular. However, Americans still loved big cars with lots of power. So, the 1965 Biscayne was larger and more powerful, with a slightly wider wheelbase and a 400-plus cubic inch V8 engine.
By 1970, the Biscayne also featured power brakes and power steering. It was available in both 2-door and 4-door configurations.
Fourth Generation (1971-75)
These vehicles were only available in Canada. Most of them came with V8 engines and automatic Powerglide transmissions. Previously-discontinued Biscayne station wagons reappeared as well. Some cutting-edge options included a 100mph speedometer, intermittent wipers, and in anticipation of higher gas prices, a fuel economy meter.