On this day 54 years ago, in still thriving post-war America, Chevrolet(and General Motors) was early into a run of design dominance that would see their cars continually be among the best looking on the road well into the early 1980s. The 1958 full-sized Chevrolets were introduced on this day, including a brand new model named after a gazelle-like African antelope. While no one knew it at the time, the Impala was destined to go on to become one of Four-wheel America’s most famous names and models with several lives in terms of form and function.
The Impala was constantly touted at the top of Chevy’s full-size offerings and the stunning 1961 hardtop was the first Chevrolet vehicle to get an option package known as “Super Sport.” As time wore on, Chevy continually upgraded their full-size models with the Impala leading the way in every category until 1985, when they decided to let the Caprice name (an option package at first) hold down the model range. The Impala SS returned briefly in 1994 as a full-size option package, then returned for good as the flagship name for the 2000 Chevy big cars and continues to do so to this day.
Impalas (and full-size Chevys as a whole) have long been an important part of various and diverse parts of American culture. From an able-bodied powerful family mover to a customized classic that includes the West Coast influence lowrider craze to the loud, colorful robust Dunks of the Dirty South. Relatively inexpensive to buy and restore, the Impala is truly a cult classic in whatever form people choose to customize their rides. That versatility and value is what American automobiles used to stand for once upon a time and people certainly miss those days of cars that were made of real strong stuff. Everyone has a favorite full-size Chevy/Impala body style and this is mine:
The 1967-1970 Impala is LITERALLY like driving a big boat around, probably one of the biggest cars GM ever put out. If you want to feel cool, calm and secure, this generation of Impala is my recommendation. However, the ‘64 (Thanks to West Coast Rap and lowrider culture) might be the best known and the most classic of all Impala thanks to its smooth double headlight grille and clean cut squared styling. The Impalas that spanned two body designs from 1971 to 1985 are also among the most popular of the group, with the aforementioned Southern Dunk movement of bright vivid colors and super huge rims and booming systems leading the way.
Above all else, the Impala stands out as a classic, an American original born in a time when American cars ruled the streets and had plenty of muscle, attitude and good looks to spare. Happy Birthday to one of the greatest cars in USA Auto history.