Following the Federal Highway Act of 1956, the need for capable cars increased dramatically. In order to make a vehicle faster, bigger, and more powerful than the Bel Air, the Chevrolet Impala was born. Over the history of the Chevrolet Impala, the car has evolved dramatically. The Impala wasn’t always successful, either. This car was eliminated and re-introduced multiple times. Today, the Chevy Impala is a successful full-size sedan in Chevrolet’s impressive lineup. It’s been 58 years since the first Impala, so let’s take a look back at the history of the Chevrolet Impala Through the Years.
Chevrolet Impala Through the Years
1st Generation (1958)
- Released in 1957 as a 1958 model, the Impala began as the top trim level of the Chevrolet Bel Air and was priced at just over $2500.
- The first generation was available as a coupe or convertible.
- The ’58 Impala unique design cues including an altered roofline, plentiful chrome accents, and sculped fenders.
- Other design features included triple tail lamps, dual headlamps, and a longer wheel base.
- A 4.6L V8 was the standard engine on the 1958 Impala.
2nd Generation (1959 – 1960)
- For 1959 the Impala became its own model and received a major redesign emphasizing that the prior year’s model had begun with low, lean, and wide styling.
- The most recognizable feature of the 2nd generation Impala is the bat-wing rear end with its “teardrop” brake lights.
- Four-door sedans and hardtops were added to the lineup.
- The ’59 Impala utilized a new X-frame chassis.
- Though short lived, the 2nd generation Impala was Chevy’s best-selling model in 1960 with 473,000 units sold.
3rd Generation (1961 – 1964)
- The 1961 featured a clean, more straight-forward exterior design.
- The Super Sport (SS) badge was introduced, featuring a 6.7L V8 engine, and with it the age of the muscle car began.
- A wagon body style was introduced.
- The triple taillights made a triumphant return.
- The 3rd generation is considered by some the greatest of all Impalas.
4th Generation (1965 – 1970)
- The Impala was redesigned again, featuring a sharper angled windshield, reshaped vent windows, frameless side glass, and more.
- By this generation, Chevy sold over 1 million Impalas in the US in 1 year!
- Nine, that’s right, 9 V8 engines were available ranging from 4.6L to 7.4L. Even a 4.1L 6-cylinder engine was available.
- Due to falling sales, Chevy cut back on the SS line in ‘66, eliminating all but the SS 427.
- Sales continued to dwindle, and Chevy discontinued the SS Impala in 1969, having sold just 2,455 units that year.
- GM ditched the X Frame and transitioned to a full-width perimeter frame.
5th Generation (1971 – 1976)
- The fifth generation arrived in distinctive seventies style with a larger, longer body. It was, up to that point, the largest Impala and largest Chevy ever produced.
- Performance offerings continued to be scaled back in this generation, as engines had lower compression rates to utilize both leaded and unleaded fuel.
- But a big block V8 in the form of the twin-turbo 454 was still available.
- The convertible was discontinued in 1972 and has never been re-introduced.
- To comply with federal safety standards, energy-absorbing bumpers were added in 1973.
- ’73 also saw the return of the Kingswood station wagon
6th Generation (1977 – 1985)
- In response to the energy crisis, 6th gen Impalas shrunk in all dimensions. Long and low was out, a taller, more stout Impala was in.
- Car reviewer liked the shift with the ’77 Impala being named Motor Trend’s car of the year.
- Base price was $4,876 in 1977.
- The wagon and coupe variants were eliminated in ‘81
- By 1985, the Impala nameplate was retired officially retired.
- But the high trim Caprice saw a second life (similar to the Bel Air Impala) as it would continue on under its own nameplate through 1990.
7th Generation (1994 – 1996)
- After a nine year hiatus, GM reintroduced the Chevy Impala with an SS concept at the ’92 LA Auto Show.
- The 1994 Impala debuted with a 5.7L V8 engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission.
- The base price was $22,495.
- This 4-door only Impala featured rounded exterior lines and echoed the long and low design of decades past.
- As SUV popularity rose, the Impala SS was eliminated again.
8th Generation (2000 – 2005)
- Basically a rebadged Lumina, the Impala nameplate made another comeback in 2000.
- For the first time, the Impala was FWD and lacked a single V8 engine option.
- This Impala was only available as a sedan, utilizing GM’s W-body platform (same as the out-going Lumina).
- The SS trim returned in 2004, offering a supercharged 3.8L V6 that made 240 hp.
- This generation made its way into police fleets across the country. The “Police Package” came with the SS’s 3.8-liter V6.
9th Generation (2006 – 2013)
- In 2006, Chevy redesigned the Impala with a simpler, rounded, large sedan approach.
- The Impala SS was now offered a 5.3L V8 engine that produced 303 hp.
- Chevy gave the non-SS Impalas with a variety of V6 engines but narrowed down to just the 3.6L V6 engine by 2013.
- By the end of this generation, Impala owners enjoyed MP3 capability, satellite radio, and Bluetooth as standard features.
10th Generation (2014 – 2020)
- In 2014, the Chevy Impala received a long-overdue redesign, adding complex exterior sculpting, modern tech, and a more refined interior.
- Current engine options include a 2.5L 4-cylinder that produces 196 hp and a 3.6L V6 that produces 260 hp.
- Optional features include ventilated seats, Apple Carplay, Chevy MyLink, blind spot monitors, forward collision warnings, keyless ignition, rearview camera, parking sensors, Bose audio, navigation, and more.
- GM announced the official discontinuation of the Impala in late 2019. The final Impala is slated to come off the assemble line on the 28th of February 2020.
Chevy Impala Fast Facts
- In 1969, Chevy offered “liquid tire chain,” a feature that sprayed an ice-melting liquid onto the tires at the push of a button.
- Kobe Bryant owned a modified 1963 Impala. This car was listed on eBay for $125,000, but didn’t sell.
- The Chevy Impala was the last car to offer a bench seat, a feature discontinued after 2013.