CC For Sale: 2003 Chevy Impala: Slowly Being Forgotten

OK, so I shouldn’t be writing this post because I really don’t care about this car (well, I care about it a little bit).  It turned up on the local Craigslist [listing now removed], and it exemplifies an eternal truth–in the Latin, Tempus Fugit (Time Flies).

I remember when these came out in 2000.  I said to myself, “Oh, look!  They’re bringing back the 1962 Chevy design!”

It was easy for me to see the resemblance, however . . .

The 2000 “Impala” more closely resembled the classical Bel Air or Biscayne–two round lights per side, not the traditional Impala’s three:


Twenty-one years ago, I just assumed that everyone knew that this new Chevy sedan was echoing the ’62–but now I’m wondering if most people actually saw the connection, or even knew what a ’62 Chevy was!

The advertising gushes over “The sheer joy” of driving this car. It is a car to “fall in love with.” Is there anyone today who feels that way about it now?


During the first decade of the 21st century, these were a common sight amidst the “carscape”.  But when I found this CL ad, it reminded me that it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen one on the road.  Now, on occasion, one will pop up for sale, not as a collectable or even a desirable car, but a “transportation special”– to be sold to drivers seeking cheap wheels to get from “A” to “B”:

From the Craigslist ad:

2003 Chevy Impala! 110k miles.

Runs very well 3.8L v6 automatic has good a/c (was just serviced) body is clean (normal wear and tear) has good suspension no vibrations passes inspection without issue. Priced to sell!! The interior is in good shape everything is working. The body is straight, clean transportation.

(They were asking $3000.)

Nothing adds distinction to a car like painting the grille lipstick red!


A few scuffs here and there–hey, it’s a used car!


The dashboard–a big plastic frown, with stains.


APPLY BRAKE TO SHIFT FROM PARK. Shades of the Audi “sudden acceleration” drama. I guess they felt that they had to spell it out because people weren’t used to doing that yet. Once the government mandates something in the name of safety, things can never be like they were before.


Not a bad looking interior, but one that says “appliance”, not “fine car”.  Seats with two-toned pleated fabric do add a mild sense of lavishness and comfort.


The venerable GM 3800 engine. From what I have read, this is a smooth-running, durable motor.


When these “like a ’62” Impalas came out, I hoped that future models might revive some other classic Chevrolet styling cues (maybe even a new version of the “gullwing” ’59–now that would be wild!)  But no–when the next generation 2006 came out, it adopted a rather generic rear end/taillight design.  Thus the only thing that gave this car any real distinction was taken away.

It may seem like I’m ragging on this Chevy, but I don’t think it’s a bad car.  In fact, it is an early 21st century version of what Chevrolet has always been about–low cost, smooth and competent transportation, with a few luxury touches here and there, and utterly practical.

The problem (if you want to call it that) is that it is a product of its era, long past GM’s “Golden Age”.  Functionality, efficiency, and government standards now rule.  Art and Colour, Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell are long gone.  A little hint of the early ’60s magic was temporarily grafted on, but few people remembered or cared.  Now this car and the predecessors it was named after are receding from the public consciousness.   Things that are familiar to us, loved or unloved, are fading away.  Will anyone want to preserve or restore this car–this true exemplar of the transportation of the lumpen proletariat?   To paraphrase Wolfman Jack in the trailer for American Graffiti, “Where were you–in 2002?”