Whoever special-ordered this Impala Sport Coupe placed a lot more importance on outward appearances than inner qualities. They not only picked a top-tier model, but also splurged on the full wheel covers and white-wall tires (presumably). But that’s as far as it went in terms of indulging themselves, given the very long list of options available. Unlike the overwhelming majority of Impala Sport Coupes that came with V8s of various sizes, they insisted on the 230 cubic inch six, which made all of 120 net hp (140 gross), as well as the three-speed manual transmission with column shift. Given that it doesn’t even have a radio, I can almost guarantee that it also lacks power steering or power brakes.
This was a rather unusually-equipped Impala Sport Coupe back in 1964. In 2016, it’s practically a unicorn, given the scarcity of any original ’64 Impala coupes, never mind a six. And to think I almost didn’t stop for it.
Why wouldn’t I have stopped? Well, other than the fact that I was in a bit of a hurry, the ’64 Impala long ago became an icon, and not exactly the kind that has a lot of appeal to me.
But it certainly does to others.
Original ’64 Impala Sport Coupes are just not that common anymore, as most of them sacrificed their originality on one kind of altar,
They’ve been attracting undue attention (and molestation) to themselves for a very long time, as a particularly desirable canvas upon which to express their owners’ automotive dreams and nightmares. Why?
Well, it was America’s apple-pie sweetheart, prior to the arrival of those usurpers like the ’65 Mustang. The 1964 and earlier big Chevys always had a more loyal and intense following than their more flamboyant and all-new ’65 successor. They represent a more innocent era, one that started to fade right about the time the ’65 appeared, along with Vietnam, psychedelics, and the Rolling Stones. And the resultant fragmentation.
For those that came of age before 1965, the ’64 Chevy represents a culmination of sorts, as well as a symbol of a time when just about everyone could agree on a number of commonly held values and ideals, including that a Chevy Impala Sport Coupe was pretty much the most desirable car in the affordable segment. One just couldn’t go wrong with one, in more ways than one.
Not only did it confer maximum social acceptability, but its high resale value made it a pragmatic economic proposition too, as long as one didn’t order an Impala like the owner of this one did. Resale did not factor into this one, which was clearly intended to be a long-term keeper. The Impala’s clean, innocuous styling, rather outdated by 1964 like the crew cut, oozed of squeaky-clean mainstream and Main Street acceptability.
The ’64 was really just a ’61 (above) with some tweaked skin, along with that convertible-style coupe roof that appeared in 1962. And the ’61 was really just a ’59, with a body tuck. And the ’59 sat on the ’58’s chassis. Which means that the ’64 was getting a mite long in tooth, especially for GM’s and America’s best-selling car.
But then between 1959 and 1964, Chevrolet had been busy developing and introducing no less than four lines of all-new cars, so the big Chevy had to be content with an annual facelift.
One suspects that Chevrolet was being a bit defensive in calling its X-Frame “Safety-Girder Frame”, given that the lack of side rails was specifically implicated in making this frame design more vulnerable in side impacts. 1964 would be the X Frame’s last outing, except for the Buick Riviera.
Yes, the Chevy had a smooth ride. But when it came to handling, an analogy with a tug boat rather than a jet would have been more apt. The Chevy’s steering was very slow, sloppy, and dull. And its handling, such as it was, was equally plodding. But for a lot of Americans, it was – good enough. Never mind the drum brakes and undersized tires (7.00 x 14, 2 ply rayon bias ply doughnuts). But the ride was smooth, which was of course the important thing.
I was running an errand at Home Depot in a bit of a rush when I spotted this Daytona Blue coupe from some distance in a nearby parking lot. And I was already well past it, not feeling inspired, when it called out to me: Hey; CC has never had a proper curbside ’64 Impala! True that, which is practically a crime, considering how common and popular they were, and still are. So I heeded its call, and turned back, hoping it wouldn’t disappoint me. It didn’t.
I was a bit suspicious when I noticed the distinct lack of a V8 emblem on its front fender, but then these cars are often not original. One look into its front seat area confirmed it though: this is not only a six, but it’s a three-on-the-tree Impala Sports Coupe. And look at what great shape the original upholstery is in. And no radio; just a blank expanse of polished aluminum, or whatever that blank plate is made of. Who would buy such a nice car equipped like this?
And how did it come to be so well preserved?
Seeing that long gearshift lever hanging there and that rather sparse instrument panel brought back memories of a ’64 Bel Air sedan that one of my high school girlfriends had; a hand-me-down, and a bit tired and saggy by 1970. It too was a six, three-speed, with manual steering and brakes. That wasn’t really all that unusual at the time, except for Impalas. Yes, one would occasionally see one without the V8 emblem, but rarely so.
This Bel Air had the sloppiest steering I’d yet ever encountered, except perhaps for the Farmall tractors I used to drive in Iowa. Going down the highway, one could swing the steering wheel almost a quarter of a turn without any noticeable response from those distant little tires out front. Not very sporty. It was the polar opposite of the steering in my brother’s MGA; now that was sporty. Of course my ’66 F100’s steering isn’t really any better, and I still do that sometimes at speed, just to prove it to myself. But then it’s a truck, not a Sports Coupe.
I always drove every GF’s car; it was essentially a condition of any possible relationship. Well, there was one exception, but it didn’t last, obviously; control issues. Actually, this one didn’t last very long either; maybe it was the Chevy. Anyway, there were often a half dozen or more of us kids in it when we would head off somewhere after school or on weekends, usually out to the Gunpowder River or such, in North Baltimore County. The drive there involved the kind of winding, hilly narrow country roads sports cars were designed for, not the Chevy.
The wheezy moan of its tired 230 inch six, the balky shifter, and the bobbing, wallowing Bel Air on tired shocks with six or more) kids inside are all coming back to me; not in a really good way, although it did afford us some good times. And it never let us down. But remembering its ways makes me wonder again: why would someone order such a lovely Impala Sports Coupe equipped this way?
There were so many better alternatives. Never mind the brawny 409s (full story here). How about just a 327 backed up by the four-speed floor-shifted manual? And throw in the HD suspension and oversize tires, for good measure. Doesn’t one deserve a wee bit of fun with their new sweet-looking Impala Sport Coupe? Ok; at the very least the 283 V8, even if it wasn’t exactly a rocket in these bigger Chevys.
Was its buyer a cheapskate, or just a lover of sixes? They might have at least ordered it with overdrive, which also came with a lower 3.70:1 rear axle, for somewhat brisker take offs as well as a slow-turning engine on the highway. But no…good thing these cars weren’t all that heavy yet; the Impala six had a listed curb weight of just 3265 lbs. Without seven teenagers aboard.
The debate over which ’61-’65 Chevy is the most appealing is an old one, going right back to 1964. Frankly, as much as I was a Chevy man at the time, I did think that the new ’64 was a bit of a modest effort, especially its front end. Unlike its predecessors, it was flat as a board, and rather dull and cheap looking. This came from Bill Mitchell’s vaunted studios? The same place that gave us the ’63 Corvette? It looks like it belongs on a Dodge; like the ’63 Dodge 880, actually. The designers must just have run out of ideas. Or they were too tied up with the all-new ’65, which had a very daring front end. Actually, my theory is that they purposely gave the ’64 a dull and boring face to set folks up for the ’65.
One of the highlights of my childhood was going to the 1964 NY World’s Fair. At the GM Futurama exhibit, I ogled the various concept cars on display. But there was also a large sampling of current GM production cars, and I remember thinking that the disparity between the far-out concepts and the ’64 Impala was getting to be mighty big; a genuine leap of faith even for a true acolyte of the Church of St. Mark of Excellence. Only a month or so later, when the ’65s were unveiled at our hometown Chevy-Buick-Cadillac dealer, did my niggling doubt evaporate.
I had just spent too much time obsessing on the ’61-’64 Impalas, feeding my endless internal debate about their stylistic strengths and weaknesses. Truth is, none of the ’61-’64 Chevys had a very compelling front end; it was their rear ends that much more caught my attention at the time.
In these debates, the 1961 won most often, thanks to its originality, ‘lightness’, and of course the bubble top on the Sports Coupe. Its Corvair-inspired rear end though, was a wee bit off in some regards; its wrap-around effect was starting to look a bit dated by 1964.
Speaking of ’61s, I had a special obsession on the Impala 2-door sedan, the only year one was ever offered. They were incredibly rare too; seeing one was cause for a celebration.
The ’62 ushered in that close-coupled convertible-style roof. And its rear end was now more self-contained, with a contrasting bright panel on the Impalas, to really draw attention to itself. Which it did. It’s actually very nice, and although sparser than the ’63, it’s less contrived too, and as such, the best of the bunch. For the moment…
The ’62 Ford’s rear end looked heavy in comparison, as if the tail lights were melting into the bumper.
The ’63 refresh brought a more chiseled look all over, including at the rear end. It has more depth, but it’s also a bit self-conscious; trying a bit too hard to be different from the ’62.
The ’64 reflected the change to the front end: flatter. And trying to look a bit different than the ’62 and ’63. And succeeding in that, if not in overall appeal. But no matter; it still caught my eye, and in particular it was of course the Impala that caught it the most, what with its three tail lights per side and the inevitable bright/white accent.
Of course, the Impala Super Sport, which was now a distinct series of its own, always one-upped the mere Impala in that department, with this machine-turned-effect accent band. Not that it was actually any sportier in the true meaning of the word, since the SS was strictly an appearance package, except for the 1961 original. Super Sportless. Now if this Impala six coupe had been an SS, it really would have been a find.
But I’m quite happy enough with this one. The ’64 Impala Sports Coupe was a car that was bound to make it to CC eventually. It was just a little slow getting here, thanks to its six cylinder engine.
Postscript: This is almost identical to a post published in 2016. I’m running it as a “new” post as an experiment, as it relates to our friend Google, which apparently doesn’t like to suggest reruns to users of the Android Reader app.
Related CC Chevy Love:
CC 1963 Impala SS 409 – Giddyup, Giddyup 409 PN
CC 1965 Impala Super Sports – The Peak Chevrolet Experience PN
COAL: Gary Dulude’s 1964 Impala – Updated and Still Driven Regularly
I don’t think it was that unusual back in 1964, to find a conservative person that wanted a good looking car to drive for years, but didn’t want all the frills, When we ordered the brand new 1965 Barracuda for my mother, my dad said no V8, no power steering or power brakes and no radio. We did get an automatic transmission though. Mother drove that car happily for 22 years without complaint.
I had a 64 Impala for my first car. British Green with white racing stripes. Bought it from my auto tech teacher for $250 . I got to rebuild it school with other class mates. 327 4 speed. I miss that car.
According to NADA, a base Bel Air 6 had an MSRP of $2626, and the Impala 6 was $2786. While $160 wasn’t exactly pocket change in 1963/4, it seems like the person who ordered this was a person who wanted to *be* cheap without *looking* cheap.
I had a relative who ordered his Bel Air without A/C because it was cheaper. In the summer, he drove around with the windows up (probably sweating to death) because he didn’t want people to *think* he was too cheap to get the A/C.
Absurd as it may seem to most, it’s the one I’d have ordered. Unless they’d have let me pair a 4spd on for floor with the 6.
Love my Inline 6/manual steering/brakes/transmission pickup and I’d love a snazzy Impala next to it.
Truth be told, my heart lies with a ’64 Galaxy, but had I been alive and able and at a Chevy dealer, I’d have proudly driven this one home.
I spent a lot of time looking at the rear of one of these – a light silver-blue convertible that neighbors bought as a second car for their high school kids. I agree that the 64 was kind of dull, and it is my least favorite of the 4 years too.
It is interesting that Chevy recycled the side trim from the 63 Galaxie on these. This is one of the few times I can recall something like that happening. Also, I remember being mystified by the taillights on the station wagons – no multiple small round lights like on the cars but a single small rectangle outboard of the tailgate. It was probably a lot cheaper than wiring lights in the tailgate.
Was Chevy still using that power-assisted manual steering gear as late as 1964? I know they still used it in 62 when my college roommate’s Bel Air 2 door sedan was built. 6 turns lock to lock was a lot.
Since you ran this as a new post, I’ll chime in. I loved this article when I first read it back then, being a long time Impala fan.
But my first new car, a Ford is why I’m posting this comment, as the comparison it too compelling to ignore, right down to the color of the subject car.
My first “new” car was a 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura (2 door sport coupe, if you pardon me here). It was Midnight Blue with a Light Blue (really lame cloth) interior.
The car had every appearance package group in the brochure except for the optional road wheels. Full wheel covers, though. From the outside, the car looked like a million bucks.
But open up the doors, and climb inside, and it was a huge letdown. Bench seats, column shifter, minimalist gauges, and no radio. Under the hood? Yeah, the severely underpowered 200 cubic inch straight six.
It had sat on the back of Al Packer Ford’s lot for months, after being driven down from Pennsylvania. Someone in PA ordered it that way (presumably like the guy who ordered the subject car), but never came back to get the car.
Al Packer had it in their inventory until I came along looking for my first new car.
My requirements: Blue (check). Blue interior (check). Cheap (I was 19… check). Who needs AC anyway? I can roll the windows down. YES! – that was until I got home with the car and realized it was gonna suck to be a back seat passenger. There would not be any rolling down of the back windows.
This was DEFINITELY not as nice of a car as my hand me down LTD.
But I loved it just the same, and had to have it. That would be the last (and only) car I would ever own without AC. Baltimore humidity is just unbearable in July and August to put up without it.
I knew people whose family would get a more loaded family car for the Dad, and that was used to cart the family around on weekends, etc. That would be the one that would get the radio. The Mom would get the no option car, no radio is needed for a trip to the grocery store, and just a three on the tree, no automatic transmission for the Mrs. At least they got the full wheel covers, if that was the case.
That ’61 Chevy’s back end still looks to me like it was inspired heavily by that of the ’59. They just toned down the batwings.
I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just the way things were done back then.
The perfect car for a minister’s wife or a retired small-town doctor. A status conscious but conservative buyer would select the fanciest model of the lowest-price brand. But an older buyer in 1964 might consider automatic transmission and power accessories to be new fangled and trouble-prone. And when you’re only driving to church or lodge meetings once a week, who need more than a 6?
My favorite is the 1961, but I am also a fan of the near-perfect 1964 design. That front end is as beautiful and Chevy as it came. The proportions are perfect, the simplicity is perfect, and the ability of the 1964 to disappear in a crowd is endearing to me. I’m just bummed that it rode and drove like a parade float. Sad. Such a beautiful series of cars!
I laughed out loud the moment I saw the photo of the Galaxie – sorry Ford, you guys had a nice looking car – but it was not as flawless as the Impala. My memories are over a decade off from yours, so these years weren’t ones I remember beyond kid rides, but I do admire them very much.
Here in Canada it was not uncommon to see a big Chevy (or Pontiac) with a 6 cyl 3 speed,
but not usually on the top trim cars like Impalas. This one is in remarkable condition and it’s nice to see it escaped the low rider/hot rod/409 tribute.
I’m betting this car was ordered by a dealer as “showroom bait”. Advertise the base price, get ’em in for a look and a test drive then upsell the options like PS/PB/Auto etc. At the end of the year blow it out to a bargain hunter.
And yes, J P Cavanaugh, the ’64 did still use linkage power steering. You needed about the same turns lock to lock as a dump truck, but you could do it with a finger.
One great thing about a powertrain like this with no power steering or brakes, they made great winter cars. Great heaters, and nothing happened fast enough to get you into trouble. All you needed was a couple of sand bags and some retread winter tires!
Thanks for a very informative article. I was always disappointed that the Impala Super Sport badging program was not coordinated with any performance rating.
It came out in 1965 1/2 with the change from the 409 to the 396 with an SS options package at the same time Chevy introduced the Caprice luxury upgrade model with performance drive train and reinforced frame to compete with the 65 Ford Galaxie 500 LTD. It seemed to be in line with Chevy’s plethora of individual options that could be ordered singly to customize any Chevy base model car. I understood also that Chevy dealers could order base model convertibles with glitzy body options and low power drive trains for showroom window sales and marketing programs. My 65 Impala convertible was one of these with the 230 Turbo Thrift Six (produced from 1963-1965) and powerglide transmission. I am told that this is a rare Impala set up and few exist today.
GM got it right in the production of the 91-96 Buick, Cadillac, Chevy and Olds B Body cars. I never understood why there wasn’t a Pontiac Parisienne Sedan and Safari wagon in this series given that the 91-96 Roadmaster is a 1985-1986 Pontiac Parisienne styling derivative.
These 91-96 cars featured options packages tailored to the GM division identity and the same drive trains with 305 in 91 and TBI 5.7 in 92-93 and LT1 Fuel Injection with tow package upgrades in 94-96. Best GM marketing for best GM cars made.
I am still driving my 96 Roadmaster LTD wagon with 240K miles on the OD featured in your Curbside Classic titled “B There Til The Very End”! It will go another 100K miles.
That’s a nice example in the shopping center parking lot. Likely originally bought by a late middle-aged couple or single, for basic transportation to the store and to church on Sundays. So it is reprising its original mission in life. Think of how many bags of groceries can fit in that thing.
I think it is a fine example of the size and spec that was nearing the end of its tenure as the “standard” American car. The next size down, represented at Chevrolet by the new Chevelle, was ready to take over as some sort of standard-bearer, and could more easily get away with the low-spec mechanical configuration in the real world, and also more easily actually fit into garages and parking spaces.
Cars of a certain era and trim level really beg for whitewall tires, and this is one of them. I can also mentally conjure up that peculiar plasticky-vinyl GM car smell that was standard equipment in one of these.
Well I remembered one that beats this 64 ! A 64 convertible stick 6 dog caps black walls radio delete plate ! lol I towed it home with my 63 4dht with a 283 manual steer & manual brakes ! these cars had good brakes for that era I have the quicker ratio box that P/S had but converted the center link to manual ! as the slave cyl ram / leaky system is so sloppy !! and put a smaller steering wheel on ! even my mom drove if I had to do work on her 64 mustang ! also an all manual car with an 8 ! you kids need to work out ! as I still do at near 70 !! remember P/S that’s 15-20 HP & adds 30 lbs. ! that’s why performance cars from that era did not have them !
Rare in the US perhaps but in Israel back then such a spec was the norm. Bearing in mind our ridiculous customs duties and (even then) high fuel prices a 6 cylinder made perfect sense. It allowed the merely well-off (as opposed to the filthy rich) to ascend to American car ownership without having to remortgage the family villa. Speeds on our primitive roads were low anyway so high performance was no consideration. I remember more than one such car driving around (I mean from any of the big three). The same applied to US made pick ups and light trucks. Slow, steady but reliable was the name of the game…
Same thing in Iran in the ‘70s. At a gas station once I saw what appeared to be full-dress Pontiac Trans AM Firebird – scoops, flares, spoiler, vinyl top, premium wheels – with the hood up, showing off a mighty 250 straight six 🙂
Well some people stuffed a six into them when the 326 or 400 blew up, the one in the pic was owned by a friend of my uncle (it has since been restored with a proper 400).
it was not unusual to find full size coupes and sedans like this from all the big 3 in my neck of the wood when where I grew up in the 60’s. Conservative folks who lived through the depression and WWII, who were frugal, but enjoyed a good looking car. I saw many parked at church or at the shopping centers over during those years and into the 70’s
Being a European I’m not suprised that there’s a six under the Impala’s hood. I’ve had a few oddball American cars myself like a 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura coupe with a 4 on the floor 2.3 Lima and a 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Classic 250 6 cylinder with a 3 on the tree. It’s just the way we got them when they were new on our side of the Atlantic.
Fifty-plus years ago, I knew someone with a ’64 Impala convertible with what I recalled to be leather seats and all the high-end trim, etc. It had a 6 with a column shift 3 speed and no power anything (except the top!) Maroon with a beige top, I think. It really was a great car, although probably no one else would think so. I never knew what happened to it, but if it survived it likely doesn’t have the original power train, which would diminish its charm for folks like me. I was well acquainted with no-option, bare bones vehicles of that era (since it was all my family had ever had during my lifetime), but to see one with all the high-end appearance options, and a convertible no less, struck me as odd in a practical way–comfort and “luxury” and reasonable economy without all the nagging problems of the power accessories, and something easily repairable on the farm, because it looked just like a pickup truck under the hood. A package I wouldn’t mind having today!
Ok, I’m the son of the Chevy dealer, 13-14 years old during the 1964 model year, and at that point getting old enough and intelligent enough to start understanding what was really going on in the car business at the time. And this car is really an outlier.
First off, I don’t think dad EVER ordered an Impala with a six. That’s what Bel Air’s and Biscayne’s were for. And, at least in our area, the clientele pretty much thought the same thing. Your average Impala back then was whatever the base small block with a two barrel carburetor, coupled to Powerglide. No doubt a few 348’s and 409’s came thru, but our area was Small Block Heaven.
And that purchasing method extended to the other models. One that really sticks out in my mind was my Uncle Mike (mom’s brother) who, ever three years, drove from Lakewood, OH to Johnstown, PA for dad to order his new car. And it was one that dad usually had to keep up on, because invariably someone in the Chevrolet ordering department would get the idea that there were ‘errors’ in the order and try to correct them back to ‘normal’.
Uncle Mike’s car was invariably a Bel Air two door sedan (it was just the two of them and their one son, six years older than me) with: Six cylinder, Powerglide, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. Uncle Mike was a semi-disabled vet (Battle of the Bulge) who could not function 100%, so the power stuff was absolutely necessary.
Uncle Mike coming in for the weekend to order/pick up his car was a major part of my childhood . . . . . . . until 1963, when son George Michael talked him into buying a new Pontiac Catalina locally. After his car had been ordered.
That was a family rift that lasted for years. The Paczolt’s and Barillla’s weren’t exactly the forgiving types.
I’m a couple of years younger than you, so the ’64 Chevy was new when I was in the 6th grade (1963-64). I would draw the Impala 2-door hardtop endlessly, as it was my favorite…until the implications of the Sloan Ladder became part of my awareness.
Then I shifted my preference within the GM hierarchy to the big Oldsmobiles, but that didn’t last long. When the ’65s came out, I was blown away by the new Pontiac Bonneville, so that car (and its ’66 successor) became my favorite.
At the time, our family car was a 1961 Chevy Bel Air 2-door sedan, which had the same roofline as the pictured Impala 2-door sedan. Ours was a six with 3-on-the-tree, no power steering or brakes, blackwalls, dog dish hubcaps, and no radio. My mother did spring for a few options including outside rearview mirror (driver side only), backup lights, and deluxe heater — the latter had 4 sliders instead of the 2 of the base heater.
When this piece ran the first time I posted about my uncle’s factory-ordered red 1966 Impala four-door sedan with the six, three-speed on the column, dog dish caps, and blackwalls. My uncle preferred the plusher interior of the Impala. He did order a radio. The dealer insisted on a deposit because they said said no one would take the car if he changed his mind. It was his third full-sized Chevy of the decade so equipped, including a 1960 Biscayne and a 1963 Bel Air. The Bel Air also was a car he ordered. While not common, this practice was far from unknown in Indiana during that time. Plenty of thrifty folks who did not want a thirstier V-8, automatic, or power options (the second and third a bad memory of past reliability problems for some) but had the money and desire for a nicer looking car. I have my own family example that gave me great stress as a teen but more on that later.
I loved all these Impalas. I will say that Ford made up for the drab, awkward rear end on the 1962 with the much better rear styling on the 1963, a car that sold very well in our area when new.
When I started my illustrious career working for car dealers in the late 70s working as a lot lizard , we took a real clean 64 Impala SS 230 Power-slide, hardtop. It’s nice to see a survivor like the one Paul almost missed. I hope it remains stock rather than ending up as ” artwork” with tires that are way too big or too small!
Cheech couldn’t be wrong… What a classic, man!
Full size 1949 to 1968 Chevrolets, (particularly 1958 to 1968 models) have taken on very different roles over the past 60 plus years since most of them rolled off the GM assembly lines.
When first designed, GMs Chevrolet Division intended to satisfy the transport needs of typical American families and they were very much ‘working class cars’ being well below Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile and even Pontiac.
Then of course, there was the term “409 4-speed” reference and the sporting side to these cars which has been well documented over years. In more recent times these been the fascination will adding 20 inch wheels so that the cars resemble something that you might see in a circus arena with clowns driving.
However, sadly few automotive historians / journalist ever write about or even bother to acknowledge the very different role that export right hand drive (RHD) versions of these cars had in foreign countries such as South Africa, New Zealand or Australia where I live.
In Australia, from 1949 until 1970. The former General Motors Holden (GMH) sold Chevrolet and Pontiac 4 door sedans and 4 door hardtops as their premium ‘top of the range’ passenger cars. These Chevrolets and Pontiacs sold for three times more than a garden variety GMH produced Holden.
Australians regarded Chevrolets of this period as high end luxury cars and they sold ‘very well’ against brands such as Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes Benz. Chevrolets were known for their super quiet V8 engines. Australian Commonwealth Governments used black Chevrolet Belair 4 door sedans to chauffer government heads of state, including our Prime Minister!
Typical Australian buyers were wealthy people, company directors, doctors etc. With this background it always looks strange to see a 1960s Impala with a noisy exhaust. A bit like seeing a Rolls Royce with a noisy exhaust.
In the late 1960s, my parents took a trip to the United States. They simply could not believe their eyes when they saw Chevrolets being used as taxis and police cars.
But much of this history is leaving us as the generation (my generation age).
Exactly as the case was in Israel. That was the reason why very few big Opels or British/German Fords sold over there. People preferred to stretch to the more prestigious US- (or Canadian) made six cylinder car.
I was there in New England when these were new and I agree that loads of Impalas and even more Biscaynes and Bel Airs came so equipped .
Most were family or company cars and so didn’t need a V8 .
I rather like the conservative lines of the 63’s & 64’s, you have to have lived then to understand things were *very* different then .
I’ll bet the
original owner had those clear plastic seat covers installed when the car was brand new, subjecting occupants to sweating and sliding so subsequent owners can enjoy comfy like new cloth seats. I realize the upholstery didn’t seem to hold up too long back then so owner’s wanted to protect their investment. Probably a big upsell for new car dealers .
My Uncle was the frugal type who always drove six cylinder Chevys. He bought a new ’62 Impala Super Sport coupe with the six and Powerglide. It was white and looked great from outside but it had the standard bench seat. I suppose that it had been a special order and the customer changed their mind. I’m sure that my Uncle got a good deal on it at the end of the year sale.
My older brother bought a twelve year old ’64 Impala SS coupe with buckets and console and a remanufactured “Automotive Engineering” V8. We lowered it, and he had it repainted metallic burnt orange, and reupholstered in Tijuana. He drove it like a new car taking it everywhere. In 1980 he bought a brand BMW 320I! Tastes change over time.
Impala Super Sports never came with bench seats. It was the bucket seats and console that made an Impala a Super Sport.
’63 was always my favorite, mainly due to the taillight surround. An Early ’62 bubbletop in Belair trim shows up at a local show and I do love that car as well. The ’64 style does look like they ran out of ideas.
Ford ran the same full-size chassis ’57-’64, one year longer than Chevy. Only Plymouth made significant changes in that time period.
In a classic CC moment, I recently found some old family photos showing dads ’62 Super Sport, I had forgotten about this one, It was a power glide and V8, don’t know if was a 283 or 327. Identical to the white and red striped ’62 pictured in this post. I’m the shirtless 7 year old, with mom, brother, sister and family friends. This was in Portland, south Mt. Tabor neighborhood.
But above, my favorite body style for any 1958 to 1968 Chevrolet Impala, will always be Chevrolets ‘Sport Sedan’ otherwise known as a 4 door pillarless hardtop.
No coupe can ever be pillar-less in the unique way that a 4 door pillarless hardtop is. Sadly my ‘62 right hand drive export Impala Sport Sedan (see attached photo) is one of few that survives today in original condition.
It doesn’t take much to improve how these cars drive without harming the ride one bit. I put 215/70R14 tires on my ’64, KYB gas shocks and most importantly, a rear stabilizer bar on my ’64 Sport Sedan. That made a huge difference in reducing body lean, and the damping on the shocks prevents float and wallow. Because the OEM power steering always leaked, I installed a CPP power steering box. Much less wheel twirling, which I kinda miss. But even the original power steering gave surprisingly good road feel, much better than 60s Mopars I’ve driven.