Chevrolet Impala

Known as one of the most historic American muscle cars, Chevrolet Impala has set the standard in comfort and value over several decades. Named after the mid-size South African antelope, Impala popularity among buyers varied over time.

General Motors styling vice president Harley Earl saw the potential of the new design sketches. Three taillights on each side became the Impala hallmark. Total production included 55,989 convertibles and 125,480 Sport Coupes.

The complete assembly process was stopped and restarted multiple times, making the model popular with classic cars collectors depending on the year of production. First models of Impala began as a high-end Bel Air, but the initial sale success prompted the Chevrolet management to make a separate brand.

The original 1958 Impala was designed as a long, wide, and luxurious family sedan with major chrome decoration over deeply sculpted fenders, characteristic Chevrolet dual headlamps and triple tail lamps. The significant chassis modification was the switch from semi-elliptic leaf springs to coils at the rear.

The Bel Air Impala price started at $2,586, allowing consumers a choice between a 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame I6, 283-cubic-inch Turbo-Fire V8, and a 348-cubic-inch Turbo-Thrust V8. Advertising the vehicle's unique features, including the roof simulator extractor vents, a two-spoke steering wheel, Chevrolet gained more and more popularity over competition such as Ford Galaxie 500 and the Plymouth Fury.

It was an era when full-size models dominated the market. Impala had beefed up body structure with Safety Girder X-type frame reducing height without headroom loss. Interiors held a two-spoke steering wheel and color-keyed door panels with brushed aluminum trim. As for options 1957 Ramjet fuel injection continued to be available for the Turbo-Fire 283 V8. Chevrolet Impalas equipped with this option are considered rare and highly desirable as collector cars.

In 1959, the Impala became a model on its own, gaining a full production line. Four-door hardtop and four-door sedan were added to previously existing two-door Sport Coupe and convertible. The vehicle didn't have major alterations in comparison to the original design, still there were some unique changes made.

New Impala was nearly two inches longer than the previous model, had a rear bat wing lid with cat eye sideways teardrop tail lights that flowed with the protruding lid. Front end redesign included a more spaced grille and long drawn-out eyebrow air intakes. In general, the main goal was to create a leaner compact look. Base V8 was the carryover 283 cu in (4,640 cc), at 185 hp (138 kW) horsepower. Performance options included 280 cu in outputs to 290 hp (220 kW), big-block 348 cu in (5,700 cc) V8 up to 315 hp (235 kW). With a V8, the Chevrolet Impala convertible price was set at $2,967.

Top status reflected in the interior design with front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front ventipanes. From the more interesting options, one should mention Flexomatic six-way power seat and Speedminder - a device that set a needle at a specific speed and activated a buzzer if the desired speed was exceeded.

The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala helped Chevrolet regain the number one production spot during the recession which troubled the US economy. Impala also meant Chevrolet's entrance into the mid-price field, increasing the competition on the market.

Quick, eager-to-please handling that lets you know you're the boss marketing campaign hit the spot and buyers from all over the country jumped at the new model. Style and strong performance made the initial Chevrolet Impala successful, but unfortunately after the 60s a lack of imagination, investing and management turned Impala into a synonym for rental cars.

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