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1972 Chevrolet Impala news, pictures, specifications, and information

The 1950's Impala was big, very big. It actually began its life as a top option level of the Bel Air. Due to sales being so well for this body style, Chevrolet decided to create the Impala as its own model. Its styling has been termed 'bat-winged' due to the rear-styling of the vehicle. A variety of engines were available ranging from an inline-6 cylinder up to a triple carburetor, 348 cubic-inches V8 capable of producing 315 horsepower. A fuel injected V8 became available in 1959.

From the front of the car, the design was fairly normal for the 1950's era. Extensive amounts of chrome littered the front end. Two headlights, located side-by-side, were placed on each sides of the vehicle. A front grill was used to help keep the engine cool. View the car from the side and it becomes immediately clear that this is a big vehicle. The length of the vehicle could be extended an additional 11 inches by adding the Continental spare tire cover to the rear of the car. Viewing the car from the rear, the car quickly ends up in a league of its own, with only a few other vehicles such as the Cadillac Series 62 / DeVille having such a radical rear-end. The vehicle featured rear-fins that resembled cats-eyes. To top it all off, this car was not-only long, it was also very wide.

Drum brakes were used and due to the weight of the vehicle, tended to wear out rather quickly. The Impala came in three different body styles including a four-door sedan, two-door coupe, and a convertible coupe. Even though the vehicle weighed 3650 lbs, it could achieve a zero-to-sixy run in about 9 seconds. Top speed was in the neighborhood of 130 miles-per-hour.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2009

Chevrolet Impala, 1958-1960

In 1958, Chevrolet decided to move upscale with a new trim level for the successful Bel Air. Called Impala, the upgrade package included enhanced interior and exterior styling, along with powertrain options potent enough to create one of the best performing large cars available at the time.

The name of this new trim level had been used at Chevy before, when GM was showcasing dream cars in its 1956 Motorama shows. One auto created for this show by GM's design studio was the Chevrolet Corvette Impala. With a hardtop and room for five, this concept was created to show the possibility of producing a full model line for the Corvette. It had a traditional Corvette grille and swoopy lines with a sporty flair, free of the fins so popular on sedans.

Though the Corvette Impala never made it beyond concept car status, the Bel Air Impala retained some of its sporting intent. The priciest car in Chevrolet's fleet, the new flagship could be had with a 348c.i. V8 producing 315bhp.

Ironic given the clean lines of the Corvette Impala, the Bel Air Impala featured large fins and as much chrome as a contemporary roadside diner. Other new styling elements included a six taillight rear treatment, and a wide front view with four headlamps. The Impala package could be ordered only as a coupe or convertible, enhancing the sporting image of the car. While the base engine was a 145bhp straight six, every other available engine was a V8 displacing 283c.i. or 348c.i. With this plethora of performance-minded engine options, buyers knew theses vehicles were serious.

The Bel Air Impala was an easy seller. Despite its premium price, the public loved its looks and available power. Its sales volume was high enough to prompt Chevy to bring back the Impala for 1959 as a model line in its own right, free of Bel Air connections.

Available as a sedan, coupe, and convertible, the 1959 Impala was an even bigger hit. Its design was fresh and considered very stylish, with huge fins second in size only to Cadillac's. The Impala was named after an African antelope, hence the car's logo. Other animals were evidently taken into consideration as well during the designing of the Impala. The large tailfins were referred to as 'bat wings.' The long, narrow taillights, which tapered toward the center to sharp points, were called 'cat's eyes.'

Many consider the early Impala the first real muscle car. The 1958 models especially followed the formula of taking a big sedan, getting rid of a couple of doors, and shoehorning in the biggest V8 that'll fit under the hood.

For 1959, the performance slant of Impalas took on a hint of greater sophistication when an impressive new engine choice was made available. A 283c.i. V8 with an advanced fuel injection system was introduced. With more power than the cheapest 348c.i. engine, the fuel injected motor made a great choice. Unfortunately, it was never very popular and is a rare find today.

The 1960 Impala was a letdown for driving enthusiasts. Some of the distinct styling features were deleted, as was the availability of fuel injection. The Impala had taken a step away from its performance roots. It continued to sell incredibly well, though. In 1959, the Impala was already the bestselling Chevrolet. In 1960, it became America's bestselling car of any manufacturer.

Successful or not, the Impala was beginning to lose its direction in 1960. But hopeful enthusiasts were rewarded for their patience a year later when the 1961 Impala SS was introduced, bringing a brand new performance icon to Chevrolet. The Impala would go on to become the bestselling full-size car of all time.

Sources:

www.corvettes.nl, '1956 Chevrolet Impala Show Car.' Car Styling 7 Mar 2009 http://www.carstyling.ru/en/cars.1956_Chevrolet_Impala%20Show%20Car%20.html.

Patterson, Marit Anne. '1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible.' Sports Car Market 08 Aug 2008 7 Mar 2009 http://www.hagerty.com/lifestyle/hobby_article.aspx?id=34714.

'Chevrolet Impala History.' Muscle Car Club 7 Mar 2009 http://www.musclecarclub.com/musclecars/chevrolet-impala/chevrolet-impala-history-1.shtml.

'1958 Chevrolet Impala.' 1958 Classic Chevrolet: 'A Whole New Look' 7 Mar 2009 http://58classicchevy.com/.

By Evan Acuña
Considered to be ‘the best selling full-size car in the U.S.,' in 1960 the Chevy Impala was designed and built by the Chevrolet division of General Motors.

Originating as a sports coupe, the Impala began as a dreamcar for the 1956 General Motors Motorama.
The name Impala originated from a southern African antelope known for its speed and prowess. Introduced in 1958, the Impala was developed by chief engineer automotive executive for General Motors, Edward Cole.
Michigan born, Cole was the son of a dairy farmer whose lifelong aspiration was to become an automotive engineer. Beginning as a lab assistant for the General Motors Institute, Cole worked in engineering before gaining recognition and becoming promoted to chief engineer in 1952. Cole eventually became president of Chevrolet in 1967.

Introduced with a trim package, the new sporty model was unique with its six taillights. Eventually becoming the ‘best selling car in the Chevrolet product line', in 1959 it became a separate model in both two and four-door versions. Within the second year of production, production reached 473,000 units.

Continuing for a decade as the best-selling automobile in the U.S. Impala broke the record for sales with over 13 million units sold. The Impala held this record until 1977 setting an ‘all-time industry annual sales record of more than 1 million units.'

Introducing the largest impala, the 1971 redesign set the standard that has yet to be topped remaining Chevrolet's top-selling model until the late 1970's.

The design of the Impala SS (Super Sport) became the model often credited for the beginning of the muscle car era.

During the 1973 energy crisis that rocketed the nation, the impact of high rising gas prices put a damper on the industry. Impala sales plummeted and the redesign of the Impala to meet changing demands. Minimized in length, becoming more narrow and taller in stature, the new Impala showcased ‘the new image of the full-size American car – smaller, lighter, more efficient.'

Over the decades, the Impala has continued to remain an American trademark, enhanced by its ability to evolve with the times.

Introduced during the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2005, the 2006 Impala came complete with a base engine, a 3.5 L V6 that produced 211 hp. A completely revised interior, the 06 Impala was selected by Fleet car of the Year by both Automotive Fleet and Business magazines.

By Jessica Donaldson
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