(Note: A while back the editors at CC discussed publishing email chains to offer a multi-faceted presentation. This first endeavor in doing so has proven to be an enlightening experience. JS)
August 12, 2017
By gummy, you are on a real roll. After your captivating article a few weeks ago on the truly superb 1973 Ford LTD, I see you are now working harder than a rented pack mule in writing an article about a 1975 Impala. Good for you! We’ve seen entirely too many 1977 and up GM B-bodies around here, but bring on those pre-1977 sweethearts with all their bootyliciousness.
Just be careful about writing up too many of these big-boned beauties in a short time period. You don’t want everyone thinking you have some sort of weird affinity for these. You should shuffle it up, maybe write an automotive history about how and why Ford has had the same texture on the pads of their brake pedals since about 1953. Just saying.
August 12, 2017
Yes, I pondered quite a while on the affinity thing before starting my Impala article. I try to play my cards close to the chest so as not to divulge everything I think. However, this bare-bones Impala deserves a moment in the sun. Besides, it’s only big Fords and Mercurys (pre-Panther) for which I possess any indescribable fondness. Well, add Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler, too. But not GM. So I suppose we’re good. Dissing GM is healthy and cathartic, is it not?
Periodic contributor Eric703 was recently in Jefferson City visiting family and dropped by my house for a few hours. We were sitting on my deck drinking screwdrivers and swatting at mosquitos when he told me about this Impala he found in New York. Hang the appearances – this near swan song of the biggest of the big Chevrolets was simply too good to let linger. Eric’s price was wonderfully cheap as he just wanted to bask in the aroma my old Ford has given the garage. Not a bad trade.
As you know, the trick with any article is finding the right angle. For this Impala, it struck me how it’s a dead man walking heavily seasoned with the known elements of Julius Caesar’s assassination – there were several things conspiring against Caesar at the same time and similar goes for this Impala. I’m thinking that would be a good angle.
August 13, 2017
You really aren’t that good at playing your cards, especially the Ford one, close to the chest. Take for example your day job; you’ve never said what you do or where you work but it doesn’t take a whole lot to figure it out.
I’ve simply got more experience in playing my cards close to the chest. Since I know you have better sense than to ever show this to anybody, I’ll tell you something – I love these big Chevrolets. The 1971 to 1976 full-sized Chevrolet was simply the pinnacle of Chevrolet. They had correctly sized tires and that damnable Powerglide was gone except for a few weird holdouts. For a current driver, these are great; old enough for a person to appreciate the experience but new enough to easily keep up with traffic and still have built in safety features, such as disc brakes, and there’s room for the whole family. It’s a win-win-win.
This one is just the ticket for me, too. Sadly I can’t ever admit to that as it would ruin my virtual, online persona quicker than a fart ruins a romantic encounter.
Look at that amazing roofline. What don’t you see? That’s right, there’s no vinyl. Steel roofs are like V8 engines, rear-wheel drive, and four-barrel carburetors – it’s the way things are supposed to be. Frankly, I was almost as giddy as a hog knee-deep in slop when I saw these pictures. I’m sure whatever you create will be finer than a frog’s hair split three ways.
The Caesar angle is a catchy one. You can combine discussion about size, political events, and lower powered engines all into one piece. It’ll be niftier than a shirt pocket and a lot of people love a good conspiracy theory. Even better, Caesar will be globally known, unlike that time you compared a Mercedes 450 SE to Conway Twitty. I still think you should have gone for a higher pantheon of singer such as Waylon Jennings.
This Impala looks reasonably well preserved, especially for being in New York where they sling salt like it’s confetti at a New Year’s Eve party.
August 14, 2017
Huh? You like these big Chevrolets? After the way you’ve talked about them for years? You don’t play your cards close so much as you throw a great fake. You perplex me; aren’t you a devout Peugeot aficionado? You sure your influenza from the CC Meet-up in June didn’t reappear? How’s your temperature?
Tell Stephanie that Mrs. Jason has found locally grown free-range chickens work much better in chicken soup as they yield a more robust broth, making them quicker to soothe those under the weather.
August 14, 2017
You sure are naive. There’s a reason all the cabs I drove back in the 1970s were Chevrolets. Comfort and durability were their forte.
Notice I didn’t offer any empty platitudes about it being attractive. This Impala is decent but, as much as I hate to admit it, that LTD you wrote up does look much better than this Impala in an Armani suit vs. bib-overalls kind of way. Ford did have a better idea, as much as it vexes my soul to say that. You better not show this email to anyone.
That Peugeot thing is just so much click-bait. You’ve seen that picture of me wrenching on one. That’s a subliminal message I’m sending. Think about it – only in North America was a big Chevrolet sold alongside a Peugeot. Which car fell on its face with a big, fat, wet smack and which is still going 42 years later?
Peugeot screwing the pooch in the U.S. was a perfect storm of events, not unlike those experienced by this bodacious Impala. Emission standards along with market and regulatory expectations killed Peugeot as dead as a hammer and it was certainly strangling the Impala. Horsepower for the standard 350 (5.7 liter) V8 was down twenty net horsepower from 1973.
When you write this up, take whatever angle you want but the Caesar angle is a good one. However, you might consider including some type of exposé about the profound drop in sales year-to-year for these cars. Be sure to poke fun at either the fuel mileage or the miserable power ratings that were lower than a snake’s belly in a rut. 145 horsepower from a 350 is simply pitiful; 235 horsepower from the available 454 (7.4 liter) V8 is laughable. You can turn that lack of output into a real barn-burner.
I know you’ll do a good job throwing words at a car that is the embodiment of durable but where there isn’t much original to say. You’ve done so before on another big Chevrolet.
August 16, 2017
That’s an intriguing perspective about Peugeot. You got me thinking; the last Peugeot I saw outside a museum was in 1992 and it had just been rear-ended. No doubt its next stop was the scrap yard.
Your suggestions are good ones. Finding old fuel economy ratings for 1975 is pretty easy despite the EPA’s website only providing information back to 1984. Interestingly, this Impala is rated at 18 mpg highway if equipped with the base 350 (5.7 liter) V8.
For comparison, a compact Ford Granada with a 302 (5.0 liter) V8 was rated even worse at 16 mpg highway; with a 250 cubic inch (4.1 liter) straight-six the Granada was projected as being the equal of the 350 Impala in fuel usage. I guess efficient size doesn’t include fuel efficiency.
Stepping up to the 454 (7.4 liter) V8 only dropped an Impala’s estimated fuel economy to 15 mpg on the highway. And, would you believe the 400 (6.6 liter) Impala was rated the same as that eight-cylinder Granada? We all know these early fuel economy ratings were highly optimistic, but I do have a real world comparison.
What’s that, you ask? I had a 1975 Ford Thunderbird with the 460 (7.5 liter) V8. It’s rated at 10 mpg city and 15 mpg on the highway. In highly mixed driving, mine got 12 to 14 mpg, so maybe some of these ratings weren’t completely off-base.
I’m working on sales number right now.
August 16, 2017
Be careful touting those fuel economy ratings too much. So many are of the impression any car from the ’70s was lucky to break into double-digit fuel mileage. Your well-researched and thoroughly remarkable argument may go over as well as playing Tocatta and Fugue at a wedding.
Those fuel economy ratings are a hoot and just go to show where each automaker shined. Chevrolet had homely cars and decent economy while Ford had good looking cars and a bunch of wheezing lumps trying to pull them. Ford’s straight sixes really suffered. The worst of the lot was the 300 straight-six in their pickups. That engine was as embarrassing as having your grandmother walk in while you’re sitting on the shitter.
Before you say it, yes, I’ve professed love for these. Didn’t you say something about throwing a fake?
Another one to think about was gearing as the rear axles had ratios as crazy as 2.56:1 on the 400 and a slightly more sane 2.73:1 on the 350. With a curb weight of 4,200 pounds (comparable to a 2017 Dodge Charger R/T), that lower powered engine for 1975 had to work even harder to move that weight and the tall gearing required a lot more cowbell to get it all moving. Two steps in the wrong direction.
Sales of these big darlings pretty much tanked when the Arab Oil Embargo hit in 1973. That’s too bad, too, because everybody went and bought those Granadas. Well, at least that’s what those in the Midwest bought. I lived in California then. Everybody there bought something else.
Where’s the sales numbers? You’ve got me sitting on the edge of my seat here. I bet somewhere around 1974 their sales dropped quicker than a groom’s pants on his wedding night.
August 17, 2017
Here you go – hot from the Standard Catalog:
Sorry, but this is just a screenshot of a spreadsheet. I’ve gotten pretty stale on graphing anything and that’s a task I always delegate at work – wherever that is. But there are several pretty telling things here.
First, other than sales going downhill quicker than an Olympic bobsledder with his ass on fire (you’ve inspired me here), there was a mild recovery for 1976. Maybe it was fueled by rumors of the downsized cars and the general uncertainty that contains. The CAFE standard for inaugural 1978 was 18.0 mpg but it was set to be 20.0 mpg for 1980. Chevrolet downsized just in time.
Second, it raises the question – has GM ever seen any model sell over one million units in a single model year since 1972? Yeah, I know this included Impala, Caprice, Biscayne, and Bel-Air, but it’s all the same basic car. Not even their pickups are selling at that volume in our pickup-centric times. There’s a lot to think about here.
Did Stephanie ever make you any chicken soup?
August 18, 2017
Everything you said tells me this Impala is indeed a lot like Caesar. So many things were conspiring to eliminate it from the picture and things have been vastly different ever since. Caesar was assassinated by many; this Impala was also. A sad end for a terrific car.
Or not; maybe I faked you out again. Or not.