Memories of Granddad in 1960 Chevy Biscayne

Farm Forum

Automobiles referred to as “company cars” are usually stripped-down base model vehicles. A 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne was the company car provided to William Jalma in Minneapolis. When new, the 3,570-pound, 119-inch wheelbase full-size four-door sedan had a sticker price of $2,208. Jalma kept the sedan after his retirement in 1966 and often permitted his grandson, Bill Shields, to borrow the car.

Jalma gave the Chevrolet to his grandson upon his graduation from college in 1972. The graduate was grateful, but the harsh Minnesota winters had taken a toll on the flanks of the Chevrolet, so Shields sold the well-worn car in 1975.

By 1990, Shields was living in Virginia when he began longing for a replacement for his grandfather’s Chevrolet. He reports, “Biscayne models didn’t survive in great numbers.”

His hunt for a car exactly like his grandfather’s was made more difficult because of how it was equipped: The company car came optioned with AM radio, updated heater, Powerglide transmission, and a 170-horsepower/283-cubic-inch V-8 engine. However, it did not have power brakes, power steering, power windows, nor power seats.

Eventually, Shields located a 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne identical to his grandfather’s car, except for the color. He decided that he could live with that singular difference, so he purchased the Chevrolet from the son of the recently deceased schoolteacher who had owned the 1960 model.

The Cascade Green Biscayne with a white top had been repainted once to match the original color. If the car should ever need another repainting, then Shields says he may change the color to Horizon Blue, to match his grandfather’s car.

When Shields got the car home with 113,000 miles showing on the odometer he found 30 years of registration certificates in the glove compartment, along with maintenance records showing the schoolteacher had all of the service work performed at his local Chevrolet dealership.

Unusual for the low-end Biscayne model is the optional 170-horsepower, 283-cid V-8 engine capped with a two-barrel carburetor. The Biscayne is one of 287,700 such models manufactured during the 1960 model year. “You can’t overheat that car,” he reports. “It runs very cool.”

Inside the car, the headliner has been replaced. Shields says he may get the rest of his Biscayne reupholstered if he can find the correct material. Outside, the chrome trim remains original.

The front end has been rebuilt, Shields says, but the engine is still original and the transmission has never been out of the car. They both work perfectly, he says. Not only that, but, “the heater will cook you right out of the car,” boasts Shields.

Shields says his car starts easily with just a couple of pumps on the accelerator to feed some fuel to the engine. “It’s a great road car,” Shields exclaims, “I’ll never sell it.”

For your car to become the subject of the Classic Classics column, e-mail us your .jpeg image, plus brief details and phone number. Type “Classic Classics” in subject box and send to Or, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view) plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181.