CC Outtakes: 1963 Chevrolet Impala – Lost In The Boondocks, With Other Curbside Finds

There’s something to be said for old American iron; you can never mistake it for anything else. Unlike the vehicles from the last 30 years or so, you can look at a quarter-mile distance, see a familiar shape, and say: That’s an old Chevrolet! What’s it doing over there?

This unexpected encounter occurred on the rural outskirts of San Salvador, near the sugar mill where my father used to work. I was originally on my way out of the city, heading to spend the day in the touristy enclave of Suchitoto. However, a good deal of gridlock on the main highway got me looking for some shortcuts. So, how about the old rural roads near my dad’s sugar mill?

As I navigated slowly through the subpar streets, I spotted the old Chevy from the distance, sitting quietly on a narrow side street.

Not being familiar with the area anymore, I decided to stay in the car as I drove closer. But before I reached the Impala, a second gen. Tercel appeared by the curbside. Not quite as exciting, mind you, as these are still fairly common in this nation. That said, I’m told they rarely exist elsewhere, so I might as well document this lonely sample.

Curiously, seeing both the Impala and the Toyota nearby, I suddenly noticed that the Tercel’s rear fender’s sculpting extending the rear wheel well has an Impala-esque feel. Not that I’m suggesting Toyota’s designers were looking at ’63 Impalas for inspiration, or anything like that. Just funny to see how design ideas trickle down and about in the most unsuspecting of ways.

Driving a bit further down the road I finally reached the Impala. This find reminded me that full-size Chevrolets were kind of a thing over here, long ago. What’s curious is that this Impala has survived away from the hands of upper-class collectors, where most remaining ones are found nowadays.

Instead, it sits here, almost hidden in this low-class neighborhood. Some stubborn individual is holding on to this Impala, much against his financial possibilities.

Yes, the car has a thick layer of dust showing it’s far from a daily driver. But it also sports a thick layer of recent red paint, showing that resources may be limited but will isn’t.

Now, I won’t deny that I have a soft spot for Impalas of the 1960s. But without its proper trim in place, doesn’t the large car look rather sad and drab?

Of course it does! But who doesn’t leave a poor impression with a disheveled tuxedo and messy hair?

This is what our Impala Sport Sedan would have looked like back in the day, if properly attired. Quite a sharp statement. And as the brochure promised, with a Jet Smooth ride! (Essential around this city, I may add.) No idea if our find comes with a 6-cyl. or a V-8, but either one would have been a mighty performer in the San Salvador of yore.

Parked across the Impala was this rather rare Fiat City pickup. At least, I think that’s what it is, though the cover doesn’t help in that regard. Now, as glad as I was to find an Impala away from the car show circuits, this Fiat City pickup was just as much of a surprise. Perhaps even more so. But such are the logics of curbside hunting; endless roads filled with modern Korean hardware, and suddenly one short rural road with three relevant finds. Go figure.

There’s not much information online about this little utilitarian Fiat model. Basically, it’s an update of the 147 pickup, itself a spinoff of the Fiat 147 built by Fiat of Brazil; all heavily based on the original 127. As far as I can tell, the City was built from ’84 to ’89 and still made use of the 147’s FWD platform and hardware.

As the Salvadorian ad above shows, the model came with a 1.3L engine of 58HP and had a half-ton loading capacity. Not huge sellers outside of Brazil, it’s a rather rare vehicle. Its Brazilian Fiat Panorama sibling was recently covered at CC.

Let’s bid adieu to the Impala, which for all purposes is the star of this post. I doubt this find will ever look again as good as it did during its glory days. But for the time being, it makes for a nice and eye-grabbing curbside presence.


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 – Giddyup, Giddyup 409

Curbside Classic: 1963 Chevrolet Bel Air – A Time Capsule, But Not From The Showroom

Curbside Classic: 1963 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon – Currently Inert