The History of the Chevy Impala
The Impala isn’t the sexiest car in Chevy’s long history, but it has been there since nearly the beginning, delivering exceptional and reliable performance. The Impala has been a dependable choice for generations; it is a strong and steady vehicle in one conservatively stylish package.
In Albany, NY Chevy dealerships offer a variety of Impala models from the past decade or so, but they don’t provide a real representation of the history of the model. Knowing a bit about the history of the Impala helps you to understand why it is such a quality choice, whether you are looking for a family vehicle or just want a handsome sedan for your own driving or professional use.
Here’s what you need to know about the history of the Chevy Impala:
1950s and ’60s
The Chevy Impala was first introduced in 1958. The original design was dramatically different than what you will find on lots today. The first Impala had a long body that ended in a sculpted bumper and had a similar design at the grille. The hood and trunk were both very long compared to the cab, which had two doors.
The Impala was designed as a higher-end model for its Bel Air line of hardtops and convertibles. The final design was much longer, wider and lower than the concept sketches, which created a distinctive look and offered a roomier cabin.
Some elements of the first Impala design became hallmarks of the model, such as the three tail lights on each side of the fender.
The Impala was so successful that it helped Chevrolet regain its spot at number one for production — despite the fact that 1958 was experiencing a recession.
The second generation was produced from 1959 to 1960, and it was even wider, lower and longer than the previous generation’s model. The rear fender adopted the “fin” design seen in other models of the time, creating a more distinctive profile. The Impala’s signature three tail lights were replaced in this generation by a single teardrop-shaped light.
A four-door hardtop or sedan and a two-door hardtop or convertible were offered in these model years.
The third generation was produced from 1961 to 1964, and the fourth generation was produced from 1965 to 1970. Both generations saw major design changes that created a more modest profile for the Impala. These generation models became shorter and trimmer, and the edges were blocked off, creating a boxy yet simple profile.
Some of the most popular Impala models were produced during these generations, and they are considered collectibles today.
1970s and ’80s
Chevy produced the fifth generation of the Impala between 1971 and 1976, and it was one of the top-selling models for the automaker. The Impala had a strong front end with a long hood, but the cabin sloped down toward the back, leading into a shorter rear end.
The 1971 Impala had a Turbo Jet V8 engine that put out 365 horsepower, leading to strong performance. A V8 remained the standard engine for all models in the fifth generation, giving the car a reputation for performance as strong as its looks.
The sixth generation was produced between 1977 and 1985, and it included another major redesign. Both ends of the car became shorter, and the cabin got larger. Though the Impala was smaller in size overall, its larger cabin provided more legroom and head room. The overall design was reminiscent of a Buick with its boxy angles. Both two-door and four-door models were available.
The sixth generation ushered in a new era of success for the Impala, and it quickly took the number one sales position in the country.
Despite its initial success, the Impala waned in popularity over the eight years of the sixth generation, and it was discontinued in 1985.
1990s and the New Millennium
After a nine-year hiatus, the Impala was re-introduced in 1994 for its seventh generation, which had a short run of only two years. The Impala had a radical re-design, which included softened edges and a more compact body. It included a 5.7-liter V8 engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. It was a higher-performance version of the Caprice, which had also been reintroduced.
The eight generation was produced between 2000 and 2005. This was a compact, sporty vehicle that was versatile enough to serve as a family car or a business vehicle. In fact, many of these cars were included in police fleets. Engine choices provided diversity in performance, including two different 3.8-liter V6 engines and a 3.4-liter V6 engine.
The ninth generation was produced between 2006 and 2013. It introduced the Generation IV small-block V8 engine, which was being used in a Chevrolet with front-wheel drive for the first time. The engine gave the Impala more power and more speed.
The ninth generation saw a lot of mechanical changes, including improved engine options, better suspension, and improved safety features. It also included a lot of perks like satellite radio and leather seating.
The tenth generation of the Impala was introduced last year, and it appears to keep the tradition of this stylish sedan going strong. In fact, the current generation earned a score of 95 out of 100 by Consumer Reports — the first American sedan in 20 years to get the top score.
The current generation reversed the downsizing trend and presented a bulkier profile, with a more muscular looking front end and tail. Yet it did not return to its boxy roots. The current Impala has a luxury profile with aerodynamic lines, a thin split grille, chrome accents and more.
The current year’s model introduced new exterior color choices, safety features such as lane changing alert, and tech features such as wireless charging for personal devices. Three engine choices are available, including a 2.4-liter with hybrid-assist technology, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a 3.6-liter V6 engine.
The Impala is a stylish vehicle that delivers strong performance and advanced safety and technology features. If you are shopping in Albany, Chevy fans know to go to DePaula Chevrolet. We have an extensive selection of new and used Chevy vehicles, including Impalas from numerous years. Visit us today to take a test drive of an Impala.