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(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) The Chevrolet Impala is a full-size automobile built by the Chevrolet division of General Motors introduced for the 1958 model year. Deriving its name from the southern African antelope, Chevrolet's most expensive passenger model through 1965 had become the best-selling automobile in the United States, competing against the Ford Galaxie 500 and the Plymouth Fury when full-size models dominated the market. The Impala was distinguished for many years by its symmetrical triple taillights. The Caprice was introduced as a top-line Impala Sport Sedan for the 1965 model year becoming a separate series positioned above the Impala in 1966, which itself remained above the Bel Air and Biscayne. The Impala continued as Chevrolet's most popular full-size model through the mid-1980s. Between 1994 and 1996, Impala was revived as a muscular 5.7-liter V8–powered version of the Caprice Classic sedan. In 2000, the Impala was re-introduced again as a mainstream front-wheel drive full-size sedan. Ed Cole, Chevrolet's chief engineer in the late 1950s, defined the Impala as a "prestige car within the reach of the average American citizen."
The Impala name was first used for the full-sized 1956 General Motors Motorama show car that bore Corvette-esque design cues, especially the grille. Painted emerald green metallic, with a white interior, the Impala featured hardtop styling. It is not known to have survived. Clare MacKichan's design team, along with designers from Pontiac, started to establish basic packaging and dimensions for their shared 1958 General Motors A body in June; the first styling sketch that would directly influence the finished Chevrolet product caught the eye of General Motors Styling vice president Harley Earl in October. Seven months later, the basic design was worked.
Fourth generation (1965–1970)
Totally redesigned in 1965, the Impala set an all-time industry annual sales record of more than 1 million units in the U.S., which has never been bettered. All new full-size Chevys eschewed the "X" frame for a full-width perimeter frame, a new body which featured curved, frameless side glass (for pillarless models), sharper angled windshield with newly reshaped
In 1965 Chevrolet introduced the Impala Caprice, exclusively as a four-door hardtop. Caprices received unique tufted upholstery, wood grained accents on the dashboard and specialty pulls on the insides of the doors. This "halo" model also featured the "spinner" wheel covers from the Impala SS, with the "SS" logo centers replaced by a Chevy "bowtie" emblem. The Super Sport's blackout rear trim strip below the triple taillights was also used, with the "Impala SS" emblem deleted of course. The Caprice Custom was reintroduced as the Chevrolet Caprice in 1966, taking the top position in the full-size Chevrolet lineup. Engine choices included the inline six-cylinder as well as the famous Chevy small-block and big-block V8s. Automatic buyers were given the option of the newly introduced three-range Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission for the newly introduced Mark IV big-block engine, displacing 396 cubic inches. The old 409-cubic-inch (6.7 L) "W" engine was discontinued early in the 1965 model year, so early-production '65s got the 409, as well as 1/10 of 1% had the 396 CID big-block. Moreover, other later-built cars had the 396-cubic-inch (6.5 L) as the big-block option with significant horsepower drawback. Two-range Powerglide, as well as Synchro-Mesh 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions were available. As with previous years, Impalas featured more chrome trim inside and out, with pleated tufted upholstery and door panels. The Impala would be the #2-selling convertible in the U.S. in 1966, with 38,000 sold; it was beaten by the Mustang by almost 2:1.
The 1967 model was redesigned with enhanced Coke bottle styling. The curves were the most pronounced with the 1967–68 models. In keeping with federal regulations, safety features were built into Impalas during the 1967 and 1968 model years, including a fully collapsible energy-absorbing steering column, side marker lights, and shoulder belts for closed models.
The 1968 model was facelifted with a new front end, The new rear bumper housed triple "horseshoe" shaped taillights. 1968 also saw a new Impala model, the Custom Coupe. This two-door hardtop featured the same formal roofline as the Caprice Coupe. It was a huge commercial success and would be continued right through 1976.
By 1969, the muscular "Coke Bottle" look had become passe for full-size Chevys. The 1969 Impala and other full-sized Chevrolets got new slab-sided bodies with a small "upsweep" at the rear quarter window, giving them a more formal appearance. The emphasis was clearly on making the Impala look bigger, even though it retained the 119" wheelbase from previous models. New front bumpers that wrapped around the grille and horizontal taillights in the rear bumper made it look wider. Ventless front windows were used on all models. Chevy had a rudimentary "power vent" system featuring vents in the instrument panel, but it wasn't the pressurized system that became standard on all 1971 big GM cars. The vent windows had provided excellent ventilation at highway speeds, but at the expense of wind noise. Eliminating them saved money on each car produced, kept the interiors quieter at highway speeds, and no doubt encouraged more check marks on the order sheets for the high-profit air conditioning systems that were becoming increasingly popular. The ignition switch was moved from the instrument panel to the steering column, and when they key was removed, the steering wheel and shift lever were locked. All 1969 GM cars except the Corvair got this change, one year ahead of Federal regulations. The hardtop Sport Coupe got a new, crisply styled notchback roofline, replacing the "fastback" C-pillar from 1967–68. During the 1969 model year Impala production topped Caprice production by 611,000 units. The similar 1970 Impala got a minor facelift featuring a more conventional under the grille bumper replacing the wrap-around unit used in 1969 along with new triple vertical taillights in the rear bumper. Canadian buyers got the choice of a lower priced companion to the Impala Sport Coupe, the Bel Air Sport Coupe, which used the same body but featured Bel Air trim.
Right Hand Drive cars were manufactured in Canada for export to some countries such as Australia, UK, etc., until 1969. They used a version of the 1965 Impala dash panel - without provision for a radio and installed in a dash moulding made of fibreglass, not metal, - until 1969. Radios (centrally mounted) and heaters were locally sourced and wipers parked in the centre of the screen. Australian models were assembled in Australia from kits as this lessened tax on the cars. The Australian cars had locally-sourced amber flashing rear indicators replacing the clear reversing lenses as red flashers were banned there. For New Zealand assembly, the bodies were supplied from Canada already welded, painted and trimmed.
Bodywork. Length/width/height/wheelbase – cm (in) : 542/203/140/302 (213.2/79.9/55.4/119); weight : 1969 kg (4341 lb).
Mechanics. V8 4638 cc (283 ci), front-mounted, 16 valves, 4-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive. Maximum power : 195 bhp at 4800 rpm; torque : 386 Nm at 2400 rpm.