History of the Chevrolet Biscayne
From 1958 to 1972 the Chevrolet Biscayne was the least expensive model in Chevrolet's full-sized line. The car was geared toward the fleet market, but it was also available to the public. Those who wanted simple, low-cost transportation with plenty of passenger space found the Biscayne adequate. It was more affordable than the Bel Air, Impala, Caprice and Delray of its day.
The Biscayne debuted in 1958 with a six-cylinder engine. This engine remained until the late 1960s. The car offered an optional V-8 engine and four-speed manual transmission. Models of the 1970s had a V-8 engine and an automatic transmission; standard power steering was added in 1971.
1960 Biscayne Fleetmaster
Chevrolet released the Biscayne Fleetmaster in 1960. It targeted the fleet market and had a lower grade of upholstery and fewer features. For example, the cigarette lighter, passenger side sun visor and door armrests were removed. The designers also decided to paint the car on many parts instead of using chrome plating. This model was available as a two-door and four-door sedan.
In addition to deleted features, the Fleetmaster also offered several options for the economy-conscious buyer. Engine and transmission options were available for police applicants or those who wanted a lighter car. The Fleetmaster model was not popular, and was discontinued after 1961.
Biscayne Brookwood station wagon
The Biscayne Brookwood was offered between 1958 and 1972 as a mid-priced station wagon. The 1958 model had four doors, and cars were available for six or nine passengers.
In 1959, the Delray line was terminated. The Biscayne models then became the least expensive in the Chevrolet line. The Brookwood was the least expensive station wagon, but its name was discontinued in 1962. Chevrolet's series names were used for station wagons thereafter, although it kept the model designs.
In 1969, the Brookwood name was reinstated, again as the least expensive model. It was available with a six-cylinder or V-8 engine. In 1970, the design remained the same for the station wagons except for a redesigned front end. This design eliminated the loop bump-grille assembly and used a traditional bumper and grille.
New look for station wagons
Chevrolet redesigned the full-sized station wagons in 1971. The Brookwood had a GM Clam-Shell rear gate assembly with a power window in the rear. The Clam-Shell design required raising the rear window into the car's roof. The gate would slide downward and under the floor. This design caused headaches for many owners because of the gate's weight. It was difficult to pull the gate back up into normal position. So, GM added an option for an electric motor that would aid in opening and closing the gate.
In 1972, Chevrolet restyled the Brookwood with a new front end and added many options including a vinyl top and full wheel covers. The Biscayne model's last year was 1973, when all Biscayne and Brookwood names were eliminated. In Canada, the Biscayne name remained until 1975.
Although the Biscayne models were never best sellers, they did provide the fleet market and the public with a very affordable full-sized car.