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Friday, July 10, 2015

The 1959 Chevrolet's from Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, and Jada Toys



Nothing's more iconic, style-wise, than the 1959 Chevrolet full-size car line, a line that includes the Bel-Air, Impala, in sedans, coupes, convertible, or the El Camino pickup and the identical panel truck version.  This is indeed one large and diverse lineup that shares the exact same styling.  All of these vehicles save one featured here have the low, sleek custom look to them to offset the elegant styling, including the mean-eyed rear-end.  Let's take a look at each of them.




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In 1958 the Bel-air line got a new high-end member called the Impala, based on the similarily-named animal of the African safari and stamped on the logo of the car.  The Bel-air is now the low to mid-end model versions.  Hot Wheels first revealed the 1959 Impala in 1997 as the first lowrider classic in the lineup that was followed by more lowriders in the coming years, including the 1998 release of the 1965 Impala.  The original prototype showed the same pink color and side graphics, but looked goofy without the front lower bumper and had the basic whitewall tires.  The end result, thankfully, returned the front bumper to go along with the detailed grille and quad headlights, while the wheels are replaced with the gold lace wheels.  The only thing I do not like about this casting is the signal/scoop eyebrows that are less-prominent in the metal body.  The custom look is added to the sides with rear fender skirts and side exhaust, while the rear has that mean, angry look with the oval taillights under the horizontal bird-like fins, with yet again more dual exhausts at the bumper (the side exhausts are designed for the exhaust by-pass.





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The Bel-air casting was released in 2003 as a mild-retool of the Impala casting.  The most noticeable changes include the addition of a B-pillar, and most of the custom add-ons are eliminated that include the side exhausts and rear fender skirts.  The red Redphin version looks good with PR-5 wheels and is based on the actual 1959 Bel-Air designed by Chip Foose (hence the insignia on the rear trunklid).  However, a mistake was made at first when the dark red Redphin was released with lace wheels and was carded on a Roll Patrol series card (the latter was incorrect since the Roll Patrol series in 2003 consisted of police vehicles).  Also the dual exhausts at the rear bumper is less-prominent.  Unlike the Impala, the Bel-air casting is often less-used than the Impala.  The latest Impala to join the gang is not an Impala or Bel-air at all, but instead a 1959 Chevy Panel Van based on the El Camino.  The look is different with the front headlights without the surround frame and a billet grille over the eggcrate design.  The lower bumper has a recess for the front plate, while the hood has the first use of a vented hood that makes the hood feel like a porcupine!








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The wheelwells are more shaplier and the rear has the winged fins that still reside despite the panel roofline.  The bumper has more lines and the taillights have detailed graphics, but on this version why does the teardrop facing towards the center dips down?  It's the only Hot Wheels casting in this group with a metal base and 5-spoke wheels with rubber tires; that's because it has been soely used for the premium lines except for one run with the Treasure Hunts in 2012.  Unfortunately, it has not even been seen in a stock color scheme, though the Count Chocula purple deco looks rather nice on this car.  The bases for all four are the same X-brace frame with dual exhausts, with the Panel having a thinner frame and more details.  The interior's all have the same dash layout with the large gauge pod housing the horizontal speedometer and large deep-dish steering wheel.  The panel goes for a floor shifter and forgoes the rear seat for a ribbed cargo area, though the large wheelwells do limit the space of the cargo area.











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For a standard version of the Impala, castings like the Johnny Lightning 1959 convertible give a better example of what the original design looked like off the showroom floor.  The front has the details of the headlights with yellowish glow around the silver trim, black bumper bullets, and the signal lights detailed on the eyebrows.  The sides show off the chrome trim with Impala logo's and lower silver trim.  The rear has the silver trim surrounding the wing-like fins, trim around the read taillights to give it that visual pop, while the wheels are hubcaps with whitewall tires.  The interior shows off more of the dashboard with a twin-pod design, deep-dish steering wheel, side door panels with the correct ridges, front and rear bench seat pattern and central speaker in the rear seatback, and the convertible boot over the top.  Red on a black body give this car some sleek style, too!  The hood opens up to reveal an orange engine block with some sloppy details of the 348 CID V8 that produces 315 hp. through a turboglide automatic transmission, while the base shows off the similar frame and exhaust details of the Hot Wheels versions but done in metal.






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The final version of the group is the Jada Toys DUB city 1959 El Camino.  Looking great in that luscious blue color with nairly a graphic to be seen and sitting on 5-spoke dubs that look more like modern craiger wheels.  I remember this casting as a pegwarmer for the now defunct Kay-Bee toys and I couldn't believe it was since it looked great, so I picked it up.  Unlike the other cars it is larger for its size but is actually quite small thanks to the rather small beltline.  The front has the same headlight and grille setup, and DUB front plate, but the eyebrow scoops get some silver accents to stand out.  The roof has the same wraparound windshield, but the roof tends to extend well past the B-pillar, while the bed area is capped off with a smooth tonneau cover and flow to the rear fins where the taillights get a touch of red and the dual exhausts are seen below the rear bumper.  The interior has the same dash layout and details of the Johnny Lightning Impala, thankfully void of the numerous subwoofer and speakers, while incorporating a chrome steering wheel and column.  The base is made out of a thin metal with chrome color and similar drivetrain detailing.



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While many will remember the 1959 Impala, this vast lineup that I have shows that the 1959 Chevrolet full-size line consisted more than just the high-end Impala/

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