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One of America's Finest

It began as a top-of-the line Bel Air during the 1958 model year and has come and gone twice in its history. Today, the Impala is radically different from what it once was, but it's a car that America and Chevrolet keep calling back. At first it was an elegant looking car with a lavish interior, an exterior gilded with chrome, and six tail lights.  It had all the luxury one could want and was still affordable to the average American. Its huge success pushed Chevrolet back into the top-seller spot and rewarded the Impala with its own model line in 1959.

The first model was featured on a low-body X-platform with an elongated trunk and smooth hood. Its engine options ranged from: a 235ci I6 with 145 horsepower, 283ci V8 with 185, 230, and 250 horsepower, a 348ci with 250 and 280 horsepower. It came as a sports coupe or convertible and its body and styling were completely unique. The following year brought a complete redesign. The 1959 model had batwing fins protruding from the trunk with cat-eye tail lights and offered a four-door sedan model. The Impala was once again restyled in 1960 as the bat wings separated further out from each other and the six tail lights returned with a rear grille. It was marketed as economic and comfortable, and included an engine capable of eliminating "road hum and vibration."

Leaping throughout the Decades

Some consider the Impala to be the first muscle car with its 1961 Super Sport (SS) model that sported a 409ci V8 with 315 horsepower. It came with a sharp streaking line down the side with a checkered flag insignia. The ‘60s would continue to change and alter the Impala, and for a couple years it was Chevy's bestseller. It took on a boxier frame, then pointed ends, and finally subsided into a smoothed and refined body with rounded edges. The beginning of the ‘70s saw the end of the SS model as other muscle cars and smaller pony cars continued to grow in popularity. Known for its long and low body, by the end of the decade it reshaped into a shorter and tighter size. A few years later in the early ‘80s the coupe version was discontinued and the Impala began to take on a new form and image.

Despite the fact that engines were recovering from emission regulations by slowly regaining the power and performance they once had, the Impala was discontinued in 1985. But it wouldn't last for long. Chevy resurrected the Impala with the long-forgotten SS version in 1994, but there was disappointment in the choice of an automatic transmission. As the SS was on the rise and garnered public approval, once again production was halted, this time in 1996. Although the Impala returned in 2000, The SS would not return until 2004. The impala's now had little connection to their roots and were still devoid of V8s. It was a favorite law enforcement vehicle, however, with 9C1 and undercover 9C3 cruisers that had sturdy suspensions and special features such as "SURV mode" which shuts off all lights, allowing the vehicle to "hide" while still running. The Impala has come a long way, now enabling Wi-Fi use inside the car and kicking horsepower up to 305 with a 3.6L V6 and an Ecotec 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with a start-stop system, so that it turns off rather than idling at stops. When the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine starts again.  With chiseled and carefully designed edges and slanted headlights, the Impala may differ from its original appearance but it's equipped with strong and fuel efficient engines and is comfortable, spacious, and stylish, which still makes it an affordable and top American family sedan.

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