Curbside Musings: 1978 Chevrolet Impala – Very Wrigley

1978 Chevrolet Impala. Skokie, Illinois. May 2023.

I hadn’t originally set out to write two, consecutive weekly essays about B-body Chevrolet Impalas, examples from polar opposite ends of this platform’s twenty-year production run.  Last Tuesday’s piece was already scheduled when my friend, Kelly, who was also responsible for finding and photographing a 1977 (or ’78) Ford Pinto I had written about a couple of summers ago, had sent me pictures of our featured car.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that I do not believe in things being merely coincidental.  I was already in a very “Chicago” state of mind after writing last week’s entry, especially with summer being just days away.  When I had first looked at Kelly’s pictures of this beautiful ’78 Impala, with its gorgeous, factory Light Green Metallic paint and white vinyl interior, the car’s overall vibe reminded me of… Wrigley’s Doublemint gum, with the Wrigley Company being very much a Chicago institution.

Wrigley's Doublemint Gum.

Since I’ve already mentioned the green-and-white color scheme common to both car and gum, I’ll move on to other comparisons, including the one-time ubiquity of both.  Sticks of Doublemint (and Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit) were among my very first chewing gum experiences, if not the first.  For years and at pretty much every checkout counter of the local grocery or convenience store, one could purchase a five-stick pack of any Wrigley’s flavor of gum for just a quarter.  More than a few packs of Wrigley’s would also end up in my trick-or-treat bag during Halloween.

1978 Chevrolet Impala print ad, as sourced from

Similarly, the downsized Chevrolets of ’77 were a huge success with both critics and customers, with over 657,000 examples finding happy buyers.  Another 612,000 were sold for ’78, of which 183,000 were Impala four-door sedans like the example Kelly found.  Only the four-door Caprice Classic was more popular for ’78 with almost 204,000 sold.  Another 589,000 full-sized Chevys were bought in ’79 before they would be restyled for 1980.  These cars were common sights for years, such that their slow disappearance as everyday transportation had caught me off guard until I started noticing more of them being customized maybe twenty years ago, and perhaps before.

1978 Chevrolet Impala. Skokie, Illinois. May 2023.

There’s one important contrast between Wrigley’s gum and the downsized Chevrolets of the late ’70s.  The ’77 B-bodies became more popular by taking something away, losing five and a half inches in wheelbase, and between 600 and 800 pounds, depending on body style.  Sales improved by about 55% over the ’76 total of 424,00, to 657,000 for ’77.  Conversely, Wrigley’s gum was original included as an extra (no pun intended) with sales of Wrigley soap and baking powder.  Eventually, the popularity of the gum eclipsed that of the other products it was tied to, after which it was then sold as a standalone product.  It was its popularity as a freebie that led to Wrigley gum being everywhere, as it remains today.  The Wrigley company goes all the way back to April 1, 1891, just over twenty years before the first Chevrolet left the factory on November 3, 1911.

1978 Chevrolet Impala. Skokie, Illinois. May 2023.

This particular Impala features just a few embellishments, including an aftermarket, finely ribbed horizontal grille insert, and that wicked steering wheel.  Otherwise, it looks bone-stock, including those wheel covers, which are even on the ’78 Impala in the above print ad.  Regardless of whether or not this one has air conditioning, that white interior and its entire spearminty essence make it seem like inside would be a cool place, both actually and colloquially, to spend time.  It would undoubtedly be much nicer inside this Impala than in the faded, stale-Big Red cinnamon color of the non-air-conditioned ’84 Ford Tempo used as the main Dennis family car for years.

Wrigley's Doublemint Gum.

The shade of green on this Impala may not be an exact match for what’s on my new pack of Doublemint (a fifteen-stick pack now costs two dollars at the local convenience market at my Red Line CTA station), but I didn’t realize this until I looked at both the gum and pictures of the car.  Maybe the color of this Impala is closer to that of a wrapper of spearmint Certs breath mints, but I had already used that metaphor here at CC almost eight years ago.  This green was a popular ’70s color, and one I still find very palatable.

The Wrigley Building at 400-410 North Michigan Avenue, constructed between 1920 & 1924. Chicago, Illinois. Saturday, May 16, 2019.

The stunning Wrigley Building towers were constructed between 1920 & 1924.  Saturday, March 16, 2019.

A favorable, period review from Consumer Guide described the downsized ’77 Chevrolets as being “boxier” and “utilitarian”, but in a good way.  Similarly, when you want just a basic stick of gum without any exotic flavors or gimmicks, a piece of Doublemint can be just the trick for freshening your mouth when you’re out and about.  In the case of both Doublemint and a classic B-body of this generation, nothing beats the classics.

Skokie, Illinois.
May 2023.

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