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Re: Bad gas mileage with the '59....

From: Kenny J.
Date: January 21, 2002


My 283 '59 (before I tore it down for a proper restoration) got about 11 to 13 mpg in the city, around 20 mpg on the highway. It had a 3.70 rear end (overdrive cars had either 3.70s or 4.10s), so it suffered in the city. But the overdrive overcame that rear end ratio on the highway. '58 & '59 Rochester 2 barrels were lousy units and the old square Rochester and Carter four barrels GM used were not easy on gas no matter what. If you aren't worried about 100% stock, a newer 2 barrel or a '67 & up four barrel intake with a spread bore carb will improve the mileage. Did your wagon have a Turboglide instead of a stick or Powerglide? The Turboglides sucked power (and ultimately gas), even though small block versions came with 3.36s instead of 3.55s. Also wagons sometimes came with 3.70s just to give them more "kick." Now my '59 Plymouth (back on topic!) has a 230 Flathead Six, a stick and 3.73 gears. No power options. I get about 13 to 15 in town. I have never taken it one a road trip and never will as long as rural speed limits around here are 75 MPH and Flathead sixes without overdrive don't seem to like sustained high speed driving. I'll bet a B or RB engine with a 4 speed manual and 3.23 or 3.54 gears would give the same mileage if I keep my foot out of it. As for the six popper '59 Chevy, e-mail me privately. I am in contact with both Bill Reid & John Mahoney, two '58- '64 Chevy "gurus." They like Exner creations as much as Harley Earl's, so they're okay in my book! :-) As for my Plymouth I am exploring several options to make it more agreeable to fast traffic. My 440, a 318, overdrive for the six. If I wasn't addicted to shifting my own gears, this would be a lot easier to solve!


Last changed: July 19, 2018