After debuting an Impala show car at the 1956 GM Motorama, Chevrolet used the name on a new production model, which it announced on this day in 1957. The car would premiere as the top of the line Bel Air for 1958 and could only be had as a coupe or a convertible. While the Impala and Bel Air appeared similar from the A-pillar forward, the two cars had structural differences in back. For example, the Impala had a shorter cabin and a longer deck lid.
That year, the Impala came standard with Chevrolet’s 283 cubic inch V8, but buyers with a need for speed could opt for the automaker’s first big block, a 348 cubic inch V8. The former pumped out a minimum of 180 horsepower, the bigger engine choice put 280 horses to the floor when equipped with three double barrel carbs. In 1958 Chevrolet built more than 180,000 Impalas, helping the automaker claim the top production title that year.
The Chevrolet Impala became its own model in 1959 and consumers could choose from a variety of body styles. That year an inline six became standard, with V8 engines as options. With sales nearing 500,000 in 1960 alone, Chevrolet executives sought ways to attract even more buyers. A 1961 redesign also saw an optional Super Sport package for the first time, giving drivers a little more oomph for their buck. In 1963 the Chevrolet Regular Production Option (RPO) Z11 package could be ordered. This included a 430 horsepower 427 V8, aluminum body parts and a cowl-induction air intake system. Chevrolet released the package specifically for drag racers, but only 50 ever left the assembly line in Flint.
The Chevrolet Impala in the 1960s, 1970s & 1980s
Chevy introduced the fourth generation of the Impala for 1965. That year the redesigned car would set an industry record with more than one million sales. Coke bottle styling inspired by the fenders of the Chevrolet Corvette hit the market in 1967. After more facelifts in the following years, Chevrolet offered buyers the option to have a Turbo Jet 454 in 1970.
The Impala continued to be Chevy’s best selling model through its fifth generation (1971-1976). Over those years the car would be the largest offered by Chevrolet. The six generation, lasting until 1985, would see the end of Impala production, at least for the time being. In 1985 Chevy built around 53,000 Impalas, a drastic reduction in years prior.
Chevy Impala in the 1990s to present
Chevrolet resurrected the Impala for 1994 using its four door B-Body platform. The rear wheel drive car received SS badges once again. Between 1994 and 1996 the only factory engine option was the 260 horsepower 350 V8 connected to an automatic transmission. The engine pushed the car to a top speed of 142 miles per hour and could hit sixty from zero in seven seconds.
Following production of the last 1996 Impala on December 13th of that year the B Body platform was retired. With it, the Impala too disappeared, but only until the 2000 model year. Over the next 20 years the Impala would be a staple of Chervolet’s lineup. The sedan saw healthy annual sales up through 2018 when sedan sales began to dwindle. This led Chevrolet to discontinue the sedan during the 2020 model year. Chevrolet Impala history came to an end when the final one left the plant on February 27, 2020.