Road Trip Down Memory Lane: A History of The Chevy Impala


The Chevy Impala: no matter which group you ask, someone’s bound to know what you’re talking about. America’s most iconic muscle car stands just as strongly in our memories today as it did when it started its journey in 1958, as a high-end Bel Air model. Known as one of the few cars that’s ever made history, it’s a memory some can still look back on with fondness. So let’s take a cruise down memory lane and chronicle the Impala’s incredible journey.


The first Chevy Impala is assembled at one of Chevrolet’s factories. Named after the antelopes of Africa, it’s intended for use as a luxury family sedan. The advertising campaigns of the time stated timelessly that the Impala “lets you know you’re the boss”.



The Impala gains speed, as it flies off the shelves almost faster than Chevy can produce it. The designers made some fast decisions based on demand. A bold redesign resulted in one of the nation’s wildest, best auto designs of all time, with cat eye taillights and a Batmobile-style lid. Impala was no longer a gimmick: it was a line of fully featured vehicles.


After their bold moves in ’59, Chevy dialed the design back a bit and made the accented lines a little less extreme, adapting the new slogan “Space, spirit, splendor” and focusing on new, electric technological features.



This was the year Chevy invented the muscle car. Another heavy redesign was in store for the Impala, as well as the birth of the legendary Super Sport. The release of the Super Sport with its 409 engine marked the beginning of an iconic era in American automaking. In fact, the Super Sport was so good on the road, that the Beach Boys themselves wrote a song about it. Now that’s history.


Chevrolet refocused the Impala in ’62, building it more and more for the American Everyman. Adding more sedans to the lineup and squaring out the visuals, they focused in large part on keeping the Impala a quiet, stable ride.


Adding even more space to the trunk and interior, by this point the Impala was offered in editions holding up to 9 riders! Trending strongly towards style as well as muscle, Chevy knew its clientele very well, making sure those who bought an Impala were constantly reminded of its above average status and quality.


The Impala smoothed out even more in ’64, featuring a softer look with alterations to the signature taillight. The transition away from the hard corners and straight lines was divisive, but the 64 is still one of the more sought after models.



You guessed it – another redesign. Impala had figured out that diversification was key. More pronounced cases for the headlights, a switch from an X-frame to a perimeter base and a new suspension were just a few of the improvements. Clearly, this model’s blend of smooth aerodynamic contours was a hit. Chevy set the all-time industry annual sales record with this model.



Chevy ramped up the muscle in this generation of the Impala. Blending the roof right into the casing and wrapping the front grille around, Chevy also knew that a faster Impala had to be safer, including belts, side lights and a collapsible steering wheel mount.



The last true year of the blockbuster big sport coupe, Chevy saw the signs and discontinued some superfluous features on their Impala. Rest in peace, Super Sport. Other more direct models lived on to fight the good fight.



As the years progressed, the Impala lost some horsepower, but gained an exorbitant amount of space, offering unheard-of comforts to passengers and drivers alike. To compensate for the extra space, Chevy packed loads of luxury features into the interior as well, essentially creating the classy cruise machine of the decade.

1978-Present Day



Sadly, as all good things do, ’78 marks the year the classic Impala came to an end. Different demands down the decades meant different designs to deal with, and the muscle ethos of the previous generations just didn’t fit the majority need anymore. These days you can find the Impala in luxury lots, hinting ever so slightly at the glory days of yore.


In spite of – or perhaps, because of its tumultuous evolution to the present, the Impala deserves to be remembered as one of history’s greatest and most versatile vehicles. Here’s to you, Impala. Run free.


At Finnegan Chevy Buick GMC in Rosenberg, we have a whole lineup of brand new Impalas featuring the latest technology and performance like a custom-tailored Bose surround sound system, 10 standard air bags, and a 305 HP V6 engine. Come by our location today and take the latest generation Impala for a test drive!

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