The 1958 Chevrolet Impala has become an icon in its own regard, but when inevitably conjures up an image of the hardtop coupe with its distinctive roof. It’s easy to forget that it came as a convertible too. But this one shot and posted by moethebartender is a vivid reminder otherwise.
It’s also easy to forget that the ’58 Impala was technically part of the Bel Air series. By 1959, the Impala was a full model line of its own.
I have decidedly mixed feelings about the ’58 Chevys. I was impressed by a black ’58 Impala coupe that resided for a while on our block, not long after moving to the states in 1960. Although it was already some three or four years old, I was quite smitten, especially by its interior.
I loved the upholstery colors that came in the Impala; so utterly 1958, and already looking quite dated by 1961 or so. And it just seemed so wrong that the Impala didn’t come with bucket seats; if any car should have had them, this is the one, Chevrolet’s first personal luxury-sports coupe (and convertible; see how easy it is to forget the rag top?)
The steering wheel was quite nice too, for the times. The dashboard was pretty good, but not all that fab. The fact that it had to be used across the whole Chevy line made that inevitable.
In hindsight, I’ve come to feel that the jump to the massive new body in 1958 was less than successful overall. It was leap into a whole new size category after the trim tri-fives, and a lot was lost in the process. These cars were wide, heavy, and sprung too softly, and were anything but nimble handlers. The 283 V8, which acquitted itself so brilliantly in 1957, now struggled with the new excess weight. The 348 V8 was introduced in 1958 for a reason.
But the longer, lower, wider mantra had the Big Three in its thrall, and certainly resulted in some wild and memorable cars, before sanity resumed the the late 70s.
And here’s something else i never saw back in the day: an Impala with a conti spare kit. I’m shocked that there’s no fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. Those two additions are apparently mandatory these days.