The progenitor of the Baron was the Beechcraft 95 Travel Air, which incorporated the fuselage of the Bonanza and the tail control surfaces of the T-34 Mentor military trainer. To create the new airplane, Beech replaced the Travel Air's tail with that of the Beechcraft Debonair, streamlined the engine nacelles and rechristened the aircraft as the Baron.
Introduced in 1970, the Baron 58 has club seating, double aft doors, and a gross weight of 5400?5500 lb (2450?2500 kg), and is fitted with either the Continental IO520 or IO550 300 hp (224 kW) engine. The Baron 58 can cruise at 200 knots (370 km/h) at 7000 ft (2100 m), and is equipped with either 166 or 190 US gallon (628 or 719 L) fuel tanks.
In 1976, the turbocharged Baron 58TC and pressurized Baron 58P were introduced. These variants were powered by turbocharged Continental TIO520s of 310?325 hp (230?240 kW), had an increased 6100?6200 lb (about 2800 kg) gross weight, and were certified under FAR23 with a new type certificate. The Baron 58P/58TC models were capable of cruising at 200 knots (370 km/h) at 8000 ft (2400 m) and 220 knots (410 km/h) at 20000 ft (6100 m), and were typically equipped with 190 US gallon (719 L) fuel tanks.
A big change in panel/system layout on 58/58TC/58P occurred in 1984, including relocating throttle, gear, flap, propeller and mixture controls to industry-standard positions.
Although the turbocharged 58TC/58P variants were discontinued in 1985, the normally aspirated Baron 58 was still in production as of 2008.
The current production version is the G58, featuring a glass cockpit, improved passenger cabin and changes to selected airframe details.
In 2008, a new Baron costs roughly $1,000,000. Since its inception, the Baron has always been near the top of the light airplane hierarchy. As expensive to operate as it is to buy, the 'next step up' from a Baron is a very big one. Faster aircraft, with greater range and more load-carrying capability are generally turbine-powered and far more expensive.
Source: Wikipedia (12/17/08)