(welcome our new Wednesday COALer) General Motors’ 1977-96 B-bodies have been thoroughly celebrated over the years on the pages of Curbside Classic. As my first COAL, my intent is not just to add to the praise, but to describe why one nascent middle-aged car collector decided to plunk his money down on a car that sold in the hundreds of thousands over forty years ago.
Meet my current classic ride – a gloriously retro buckskin gold/tan 1977 Chevrolet Impala sedan. With slightly more than 100,000 miles, the Impala appears to have survived years in the upper Midwest without completely succumbing to the tin worm that made mincemeat of most of its contemporaries. Originally delivered to Larsen Chevrolet in Superior, Wisconsin (as can be seen on the rear), the car lived most of its life in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota and only made its way down to the Twin Cities under the auspices of a granddaughter who didn’t really want to inherit grandma’s car.
One of the most amazing aspects of this car is its complete basic nature – no A/C (not uncommon in the upper Midwest of its era), no rear defroster (ditto), manual windows and locks, and a simple mono AM radio for entertainment. It’s the kind of car someone bought who wanted just the barebones to drive to church and run errands. The bench seat is covered in cloth, but other than sliding back and forth, offers no other adjustments. Like every Impala/Caprice of its vintage, it did come with power steering and brakes, as well as a three speed automatic. But other than springing for the “upgraded” engine – a 305 V8 – and some chrome moldings, grandma kept it light on the options sheet.
And that is part of the appeal of this car – it’s not only a time machine because of surviving four decades. It’s a time machine because it is the kind of car impossible to find these days – an honest, low option family driver. Millions of people bought cars like this, especially from the post-World War II era through the 80’s. Simple, basic machines that did the job for families – room enough to carry people, hold groceries, store luggage on the family vacation, shuttle to work or school. It’s a car that reminds me that a car, for many, was a just basic necessity, not a fashion or personal statement. You can’t get less flashy than the Impala’s boxy shape, generous space and simple controls. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the high tech, integrated touch screen driven cars of today.
Driving the Impala also reminds me of the inherent soundness of the car’s design. As the vanguard of domestic downsizing, the 1977 B’s represented the best distillation of GM’s engineering at the time. A comfortable, generally controlled ride. Predictable handling – no sports car, but even without the upgraded suspension, the Impala handles winding back roads better than you’d expect. Decent space utilization for its size and reasonable enough pick up and torque from the small block V8 to make the compromise for somewhat better mileage worth it. Compared to my other cars – a 2016 BMW 228i Xdrive and a 2016 Mazda CX-5 – the Impala is definitely out of another era, but it demands a different kind of driving. More deliberate, planful, relaxed.
This summer, my 17 year old son and I took the Impala on a road trip from the Twin Cities to Kansas City. While the A/C was definitely missed in the hot drive through the fields of Iowa and Missouri, the car more than held its own on the highway. Floating down I-35, the Impala was in its element. When we arrived at one BBQ joint in KC, we parked and ate our takeout next to the car. One of the men working the smoker remarked, “You drove that car all the way from Minnesota?” My son and I nodded. He responded, “That’s cool, man!” Over 900+ miles, the Impala never broke a sweat – and, as long as the windows were down, generally neither did we.
Which highlights another plus – everyone over the age of 35 drove, rode or knew someone who owned some version of this formerly ubiquitous “box” Chevy. There is something about owning a car that people can relate to – one that was essential in some way to their daily lives. Yes, it’s fun to see muscle cars and exotic supercars at a car show, but they don’t bring out the visceral memories that folks share when they stop me to talk about the Impala. I have been stopped at street lights by guys who wanted to tell me how much they loved their old Chevys and can’t believe I’m still driving one.
So, as I prep my Impala for its eventual winter slumber to avoid the season of salt and snow, I appreciate that, 43 years after its creation, it still fulfills its mission – basic, honest transportation. To me, that’s a car worth preserving.
First, let me welcome you to the COAL club! An astoundingly good first effort, and I will look forward to more installments.
Second, what a great car! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit envious.
Thank you, Evan!
Great write-up Steve. When I first saw these in the fall of 1976 while listening to “Disco Duck” on the radio, I thought what a change for the better after the overwrought ’71 to ’76’s. Two things come to mind about the ’77 B’s: the debut of color coded blade type fuses and the GM Diagnostic Connector, which allowed a dealership technician to run some basic checks on the cars health with dealership compatible equipment. This was a pin type connector under the hood which had an orange cap covering it when not in use and was state of the art for the time.
Credit where credit is due, Volkswagen offered an under-hood diagnostic connector in the early seventies. I’ve never used one, but recall reading about them back in the day-
Thank you for enlightening me. I had no idea VW had such an advanced system in 1972. I think GM kept their system through the 1980 models and replaced it with the first ALDL when Computer Command Control debuted on the 1981 models.
I had to do a double take when I saw this, other than the no A/C my grandmother’s last car was identical. She bought it new here in Illinois in the fall of 1978 and it mostly stayed around town, only going on a few longer trips. When she passed away in 1990 my mom got it with 24k miles on it, she kept it for another 6 years and then traded it for a Ford Tempo (Big mistake). This is the only picture I have of it.
Lol 1st thing I thought of upon seeing your car were the tail lights of a ’67 Impala or Belair.
You are right about how almost everyone over a certain age has one of these somewhere in the background. My law school roommate bought a used 77 Impala coupe around 1984. He replaced a rusty 75 Mustang II not-Ghia not-fastback. The Impala felt like the most luxurious thing he had ever owned. It was equipped much like your car, only with a/c.
These were nicely turned-out cars, unpretentious and solid. My only gripe is that they were of an era where the 305 was so much more common than the 350, which would have made the package almost perfect.
Don’t gripe JP, I’d been thinking “Whew, at least Grandma sprung for the 305, what an upgrade!” because of my own experience with a brown 4 door Impala:
Well done STEVEMAR for preserving a plain car, which is now rather special. I must ask, how are the seats? If our Impala felt like sitting on potatoes in 1990 are your seats fabric bags of foam rubber dust in 2020?
I somehow get the feeling that grandma didn’t spring for the 305, but the dealer ordered it (and every other B-body on the lot) that way, figuring the car would be an easier sale. When grandma showed up, she probably picked between a couple of equally equipped cars by which color she liked the best.
Thanks, Doug, and thanks for sharing your experience with the Impala. The seats are actually decent still – seriously, it seems like grandma must have hovered over them because there is no wear. She must have been a little lady.
My sense is that GM sort of cheaped out on these cars as the 80’s wore on. The multiple efforts to get more seemingly efficient engines like the one in your car didn’t help. Also, GM began cheapening the interior even more. Less durable plastic. Different, less reliable mechanisms for the window lifters and switch gear. The 77-79 versions (pre restyle) seem to have it more together.
The condition of Grandma’s cloth seats brings to mind the clear plastic seat coverings with the raised bumps pressed into them. Apparently no one under 50 was allowed to buy them because no one under 50 ever had them. They allowed you to preserve your cloth seats for the afterlife while you enjoyed sitting on clear plastic. The second owner usually got rid of them.
“My sense is that GM sort of cheaped out on these cars as the 80’s wore on”
I almost added this to my comment. The Ford Panthers started off really weak but got better and better through the entire run, certainly through the last of the square ones in 1991. The B body had the opposite trajectory with a steady diminishment of powertrains and cost cutting inside. Their trend lines always seemed to me to cross around 1985.
I somewhat disagree. Yes, there was some cost cutting in the 1980s and GM definitely let these cars wither on the vine, but the drivetrains didn’t get worse. They were certainly on par with the Ford 302/AOD. Yes the loss of the 350s wasn’t good, but the 305s were fine for the times. In the Chevrolets, the 305 improved with high compression brought in for 1985, followed by the TBI EFI in 1989. The OD transmission was introduced in 1982, and was steady improved through the 1980s become more durable. They were certainly much better than the TH200s 3-speeds commonly used in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Overall, the performance and fuel economy improved significantly through the decade.
As for the interiors, GM failed to update them, but I didn’t see any massive cost cutting between the 1977 and 1990 models. In fact , for the Chevrolet, I always found the late 70s interiors exceedingly plain in comparison to the later models.
Having also owned Ford Panthers, I also agree the Ford drastically improved, but only to the point of being competitive with GM. It definitely had some advantages over the GMs by the late 80s, but IMO they were on pretty equal ground, with personal preference being the real dictator of choice
In all my years around multitudes of B Body cars, I have never seen a Chevrolet with a straight six. Theoretically, it was available as a base engine but I doubt many were ever built.
Superb write-up on an excellent, iconic car, thank you Steve!
I remember Consumer Reports rating the 1977 Caprice as the best car overall, “Disadvantages: None important enough to mention”
While my family never owned one, I rode in several of these back in the 70s/80s.
This one appears carefully optioned. In addition to the chrome trim, it features full Impala wheel covers, vs hub caps (the Caprice had different wheel covers, and you could not get an Impala from the factory with Caprice covers and vice versa).
As to JP’s 305 comment, from my teen perspective, in 1977, the horsepower difference between the 305 and 350 didn’t seem that much. In CR’s road test, the 305 was pretty quick by 1977 standards, and also pretty good on gas. If it was MY money, I would have gotten the 305 too (though I wasn’t old enough to drive).
Car and Driver tested a Caprice coupe in summer 1977 with the 350 and, it broke the 17 second quarter mile barrier, at 16.9, which was impressive. But had they tested a 305, the 305 would probably best 18 seconds, which would also (by 1977 standards) make it quick.
Thanks, Tom! I remember the CR report and actually found a copy of it in my local library.
The 305 V8 is a funny engine – it often gets a bad rap vs. the 350 for reasons having to do more with myth than reality. This is my first actual experience with it – and it will never win a drag race. Off the line though, it has plenty of torque which is what these cars needed and what folks expected in the 70’s. It does run out of grunt at high speeds when horsepower is more important, but, frankly, that isn’t the car’s main function. The 2 barrel carburetor does it no real favors, but again, that was standard issue for the time. If it was a station wagon, I would want the 350 for load carrying and trailer pulling. Otherwise, I haven’t found the 305 to be lacking otherwise.
The 305 might not have been a rocket but when you flipped the air cleaner lid that 2 barrel sounded pretty mean lol.
Lordy, that comment about the air cleaner flipped a switch. My across the street neighbor had a chocolate turd brown Chevy sedan (1973 I think), and I loved the sound from under the hood and it made a really boss sound, particularly on acceleration. (I did yard work for him at his rental so occasionally rode with him.) His son had a Trans-Am with the screaming chicken that was always making sound later in the decade.
The 305 was fine in the B-body sedan, especially the lighter low option cars like this one. The performance of a 305 B-body was more than adequate for the day and even today would have no issue keeping up with traffic. My Uncle had a ’79 Catalina with a 305 2-bbl (Canadian market car) and it was a great driver. And in 1979, the 305 was choked by the smaller but cleaner dual-jet carb which replaced the ancient 2-Jet (2GC) used in 1977-78. During the 80s, the 305-4bbls were fine performers too, especially with the OD transmissions. Anything less than a 305 though, forget about it. The sixes and the 267 V8s were not adequate. Actually, the 4.3L EFI sixes were good performers too, not far off a 305
That’s an awesome car and an awesome sounding trip you took with your son! This is the exact type of “classic” car I’d be interested myself, with this exact type of use in mind: relaxed road trips across the US, eating at local spots, chatting with locals.
There’s actually a similarly optioned (even more basic, actually), Impala down in Bedford Indiana listed on facebook marketplace right now for $1500. A bit worse for the wear and in need of a few repairs but supposedly only 61k miles (perhaps 161k?), and it’s got that short lived 229 V6…
This was a rare type of car in my childhood even though I was born in ’74; people in my family who had B-bodies (and they were plenty, mostly childless empty nesters) optioned them as luxury cars with AC, PW and plush velour seats while most of the rest of us, and my schoolmates’ parents, all had much smaller cars without any of those features and were early adopters of FWD. I always assumed – by personal experience – that parental rejection of the boulevard ride had something to do with its’ carsickness-inducing qualities.
The base model big car was increasingly the province of cops and cabbies as the ’80s wore on. You could still order one as a personal car but I’m not sure if the dealers even regularly stocked them.
Welcome; nice first writeup about a very important car to GM! I’ve never owned or driven one of these, despite all the cars I’ve owned. Therefore it is very interesting to read a modern perspective on one. The Impala certainly is different from the MONSTER, achromatic, tall belchmobiles that dominate todays’ roads……sadly.
One of my dad’s later cars was a 1967 version: basic 4 door, automatic, 283 Impala….AM radio. Both versions did do as you mentioned: good, reliable transportation; not fashion statements. DFO
Thanks, Dennis. Seeing the Impala next to a new Tahoe is interesting. For all the talk of how it was such a big car, the Tahoe dwarfs it in pretty much all dimensions.
My dad once had had a ’68 Biscayne spec’d similar to your dad’s ’67. I think it had been a former police or government car (as many Biscayne were as the bottom trim).
Maybe a bit like this?
Dean, you interested in selling the BelAir?
Nope…Still driving the old girl until my knees give out!
I love it.
Sometimes in moments of delirium, when I daydream about buying an older car, I find myself inexplicably drawn to cars exactly like this. Simple, honest cars – cars that wouldn’t have drawn a second glance when they were new, or even 10-20 years later, but now are time capsules of a simpler era.
Yours is equipped near perfectly – a wonderful car to enjoy. And I love the pictures of your roadtrip to Kansas City.
Great story about a really nice car, and welcome.
I have the same specs in my’ 78 Bel Air, but had to repaint it this last year as the original paint was getting too ragged. These are great drivers, and can be a cheap and reliable introduction into driving an older car.
Bel Air! So GM Canada had a trim line below the Impala? Or was it Bel Air, Impala, Caprice?
It looks great! I like the color–both yours and Steve’s, very 1970s!
Those wheel covers are factory–but I associate them with the 1980 (restyled) US Impala.
I was a teen in Long Island when these came out. They were everywhere–but more Caprices than Impalas.
And both cars are free of the vinyl roof! Very nice car Dean.
Bel Air was the bottom of the heap in Canada only. The remaining chrome was taken off and some sound deadening removed. This one has the 305 instead of the 250 six, but has close to 150k miles. I’ve had it since 2000, and put on about 30k of those miles.
The interior if my dad’s 1979 Impala was almost identical, with the blue dash. The seats have been recovered in this car. It’s paper think when stock and doesn’t last very long.
Nope. Those are the original seats and material after 250k clicks. The material resembles a sackcloth, with the Impala being a slightly finer material.
Wow Dean, that sure is a sharp Bel Air, and you keep it in good nick. What a period piece and even the Ford guy in me would love to have that in my garage!
Regardless the marque discussed, driving a plain ordinary, non aspirational vehicle from decades ago has seldom been better explained than in this post.
I have an 87 Ford Escort wagon that my cousin stopped driving 8 years ago. It had 5280 miles when we got it. Now serves us in similar summer duty clocking around 1000 miles driven per good weather season in upstate NY. Not being scruffy, it does not shout its presence. It was utterly bland in its day and other than appearing to be designed with a straightedge instead of a french curve (like the Chev), still blends with in town traffic. no leaks or blue clouds. Now notable for how tiny and low the thing is compared to current product. As each year goes by, more people come to chat with me about the vehicle. Yes, a Corvette or euro performance car were aspirational for young drivers. BUT they DROVE this car, and likely have not seen one in a decade or more. the recollections shared make keeping a Plain Jane oldie running all the more worthwhile. Nice writeup.
This comment reminds me of a mid-80’s Plymouth Horizon I frequently came across at my local convenience store just 2 or 3 years ago. It was in immaculate condition and driven by a middle aged guy who just ran for coffee and lottery tickets with it, and presumably other around town errands. Having driven many of them back in the day I was completely charmed by the car, and it just gave me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I saw it. There was nothing exceptional about it, but it was still serving its purpose unexceptionally, which is just what it was meant to do.
It’s always fascinating to me how different countries see products differently.
Here in Uruguay, cars are taxed so heavily that any full size has always been a luxury vehicle. Thus, a BelAir, Impala, or Caprice in the ’70s would always have AC and probable power windows, and as imports were very restricted (common cars were assembled here, and almost none was American). My father’s ’68 Chevy Nova, bought used in ’71, was imported originally by a Soviet diplomat (the embassy also had a Volga), and its only options were an AM radio, power brakes and tinted windows. And that car, 3 years old and barebones, was considered quite luxurious…
Nice car, I like that it’s so simply configured. But while I am way over 35 and remember exactly when these cars were launched, and how innovative they seemed, at least to the automotive press and those of us who devoured the car magazines, count me as one who has spent very little time in them or any of their GM stablemates. In fact, I think only once or twice, and only in Chevy versions that were equally plain and painted bright yellow, with a sign on the roof and a meter on the dash.
Having no A/C may be a blessing in disguise. The first Mrs. and I had a 77 that often corroded its condenser. And the fuel gauge failed. Kind of a pain since the Impala level had no trip odometer that I recall.
It was refreshingly pleasant to drive and handle compared to prior years bloated barges.
What a terrific car. One of GM’s Greatest Hits (maybe their last?). It’s the sort of car that would draw my attention at a car show, particularly in its pristine survivor condition. Most old cars from a different age, even the popular ones, would never sell in today’s market. But the classics (like this era B-body), updated with a modern drivetrain and control systems just for longevity and to make it more reliable, would sell just fine.
Excellent COAL, Steve, thanks for sharing. This type of car isn’t really my cup of automotive tea, but you found a beauty and I share your admiration for the simplicity and functionality of it. The true character of a car shines through in its base trim. They may have been ubiquitous in the day, but no one makes them like this anymore and that makes your well preserved example interesting. I like the rest of your fleet as well. Between the 228, CX5, and Impala you have a lot of diversity and have covered the bases. A car for most any occasion.
Thank you. I’m enjoying my rides these days – which, of course, is why I decided to sign up for the COAL. Watch for more!
This is a great car. I believe these cars were important when new because they the first year of the downsized big cars, and people did notice them when they were new. Remember the two door versions with the bent glass rear windows?. I specifically remember standing in the checkout at the grocery store back in 1976 and seeing photos of these cars on the magazine stands, before they hit the dealers, and they sure caught my eye then, just as this beauty does today.’re
Great first COAL and great car. The colour and condition of your car certainly triggers memories of years past. There used to be so many of these cars on the roads but so few are left today. It sounds like you are really enjoying the old car, which is what they are all about. Over a 25 year period, between me and my immediate family we had 10 of these cars. Most of ours didn’t have A/C and only had wind-up windows with few other options. If I get another old car, there is a very good chance it will be 1977-90 GM B-body.
When I was 14 my parents realized that the back seat of a Vega Kammback was a bit tight, (plus it was starting to use oil again on the second engine). So they bought a new 77 Impala wagon.
I think it was the only reliable car they ever owned. The only issues were the A/C (twice, once when the compressor locked up on the Cross-Bronx Expressway back when vehicles on blocks were common there, and once when it dumped all of the freon into the passenger compartment), and the rear springs which got prematurely soft after a 4-week loaded camping road trip across the country and back).
I love this car! I’ve always had a soft spot in my head for stripper cars… and this one leaves all of the unnecessary boxes unchecked. Electric windows and FM radios are just silly fads anyway. Who needs that stuff when you have the roomy interior of one of these downsized full-sized GM cars?
Welcome here! Great writeup and pics, and I look forward to seeing more from you. The front-seat shot of your car is the first time in a very long time I’ve seen those p’ticular seatbelt buckles, black-painted textured metal with a blue GM-logo release button. Those were the basic belts, same as in my folks’ ’78 Caprice. Paying extra money for the “color keyed” rather than black belts also got the “deluxe” buckles, satin chrome with a dark grey GM-logo release button.
For that matter, your car is very much like that Caprice my folks owned: mono AM radio, no power locks or windows, no tilt, no cruise, bench seat that went back and forth and that’s it, etc. Theirs had A/C and the flossier trim that went with the Caprice, and the seats were vinyl rather than cloth, and the car was red, but otherwise very similar.
Y’seen this ’77 ad?
Welcome, thanks for the great write up on a fantastic car! I’ll be you don’t see many of those in Minnesota these days, but it would have been as common as corn back in its day. You are so right about this car being a star. I’m sure that it would be one of the most popular at any car show, just because it is so unusual to see one so nice and most everyone can relate to it. With that and its easy serviceability, it’s just about a perfect hobby car.
I love the interior, it’s in such good condition. Reminds me of my (late) grandparents’ 77 Catalina, same color with crank windows except the bench seat was vinyl.
A very nice car you have there and it is just the type of car I like. Namely the manual windows which only need the regulators lubed when needed. The 77-78 Impala was, in my opinion, the best of the bunch between the 70s and 80s. Good all around car with decent handling. To top it off it is totally original and not some butchered or modified version unlike most left. Still I have a soft spot for the 63 and 66. Again most of them suffer the same fate.
I bought a used 1979 Caprice Classic in 1985 with 58,000 miles from on it as my first car at 19 years old…..
Two tone black and silver…..it had the 305 engine and power brakes, steering, windows and A/C……I owned it for 5 years and traded it with 89,000 miles for an S10 Blazer.
In retrospect, I should have kept that Caprice longer.
In laws bought a new 84 305 Caprice and put 260,000 trouble free on it before it was rear ended. A wonderful car.
Great write-up and great car! These were quite the sensation when they were introduced, and I remember taking a look at them at the local dealership in the fall of ’76. I still think of the 1977-79 B-Body sedans that the Chevy is the nicest looking.
Like so many others, I had one of these that was very similar to yours (same engine, same year), except mine was white with a light blue interior and had a/c, tilt wheel, split-bench seat, and AM/FM radio. It was purchased from the original owner in 1985. It was a comfy, reliable car and served its purpose well as part of a 5-member carpool. The only headaches were water leaks around the windshield and backlite that were not disclosed by the seller and that I could never fix.
Of all the cars I have ever owned, I would say that this one was second-best in styling only to my 1990 Mercury Sable.
In my B body article, I mentioned a lightly optioned Impala in which my girlfriend and I had a 300 km road trip. I drove really well, probably because it was so light. It certainly felt more sprightly in the corners than my dad’s heavy a/c equipped Impala 350.
It was identical to the car featured here. The 305 is completely adequate in a lightly optioned car and uses 20% less fuel than a 350.
They were honest cars. They drove better than any of its competition, it was reasonably economical for the time and very easy to repair. I measured a 305 Chev taxi for a week and got 16.7 mpg Imperial. We were in the middle of a gas war, so I waited to convert it to LPG. My buddy was also driving a 305 Impala on LPG. After cutting out the cat, the LPG car had the same fuel consumption as the gasoline motor.
Great write up!
This car is worth it.
The parents of a friend of mine bought either a ’77 or a ’78 Impala.
They were absolutely stunned when they got new tires in ’80 or ’81; the car rode so much nicer on aftermarket rubber than on the original-equipment garbage tires. The new tires were nothing special, private-label mass-merchandiser stuff. It’s just that the originals were completely crap; even when new.
The “downsized” B was little more than a re-skinned prior-year “A” intermediate chassis with a more-formal body on top. GM spent a lot of money telling us it was “ALL NEW!”.
I still own the aftermarket electrical board that plugs into the orange “diagnostic” connector. Great idea, should have been on every car GM built. Easy to test for any number of basic electrical items–battery voltage, engine RPM, etc. It’s been so long since I’ve used that tool, I’d have to look at it to remember what all the test points connected to.
The “downsized” B was little more than a re-skinned prior-year “A” intermediate chassis with a more-formal body on top. GM spent a lot of money telling us it was “ALL NEW!”.
Not it’s not. This fallacy is constantly being repeated. The chassis is not the same and the bodies are completely different. The 1973-77 Chevelle chassis is considerably heavier and a different design. There are similarities, the front suspension in particular share very similar control arms, but there are still differences in these parts. Anyone who has worked under these cars can clearly see the frames are a different design – it is obvious. The body design of the 1977 B-cars was considerably more space efficient than the 73-77 A-bodies. Overall, the ’77 B-body was a more space efficient and lighter design than the ’73-77 A-body, which were actually pretty heavy cars for there size.
Steve, this car is an excellent find; thanks for keeping her on the road! Last year I had a unidentified coworker who drove a dented but otherwise solid late ’80s B-Body to work. Most of my colleagues rolled their eyes and chuckled when I described the worn workhorse as the coolest car in the parking lot.
Thanks for finding a preserving a time capsule. Your discussion of regional preferences reminds me of two of our rides. Whe we were first dating back in 1990 my wife’s car was an 88 Cavalier that had been a a fleet car so it was on the basic side. The oddity is that it was from Florida so it had an old fashioned fan in the parcel tray rear defroster rather than the electric one a car sold in New York would have had. On the opposite end of climate our 95 Escort was apparently an upper Midwest car because it had a factory block heater which was never needed in the mild winters of Beaverton.
I just absolutely love the downsized B and C bodies, and regret never considering buying one for fun as the prices on these rise. I like the Caprice looks a little better, and the accoutrment that often accompanied the range-topper (sometimes power windows and often air-conditioning!), but the less tarted-up Impala looks magnificent. Loved that the General did not stick wire hubcaps on every one of these like in the 1980s (it seemed). The plain or the snowflake type looked absolutely perfect. And yes, I can recount all the people in my life who had one of these or the Caprice, as well as the Catalina, Bonneville, Ninety-Eight, Electra / Estate Wagon, and LeSabre. I even remember riding in a 1979 Bel Air taxi!!! I was on a family vacation to Canada, and it was the Internet that confirmed that the Bel Air name was used in Canada, I believe through 1981, mainly for fleet use. That brown Bel Air was more exciting than the black and orange ’76 Plymouth Gran Fury which I only remember for its color! The Bel Air was like riding in style!!!! Thank God these things are bulletproof, because the remaining survivors that haven’t been abused may get the admiration they deserve for an interesting time and place in history. Cheers to the Impala, and your stewardship of this fine car!!!