The 1958 Impala wore a sensational Harley Earl–era design, with ample chrome decoration over deeply sculpted fenders, Chevy’s first dual headlamps, and triple taillamps. The major chassis advancement was a move from semi-elliptic leaf springs to coils at the rear.
The Chevrolet Impala originated as a sports coupe and made its debut at the 1956 General Motors Motorama. The concept became a reality with Chevrolet launching the Impala in 1958. The Chevrolet Impala was launched as a Sport Coupe and Convertible variant of the 1958 Bel Air line, and named for an African antelope. Chevrolet had completely redesigned its product lineup for 1958 and the Impala had a number of unique features to separate it from the standard Bel Air. The three 1958 nameplates were Del Ray (6 models), Biscayne (4 models) and Bel Air (5 models) plus the two top price Impalas.
All 1958 Chevrolets were longer, lower and wider than 1957 and rode on a new X-frame, with coil springs front and rear. Designer Bill Mitchell had replaced the fins and simple straight lines of the ’57 models with baroque curves. Incidental aluminum brightwork was scattered everywhere. All models had full-width mesh grilles and four headlights. Station wagons had single taillights on each side and other models had twin taillights, while the Impalas had signature triple taillights.
The chassis was a new design — longer and wider — and the body had a reduced height of almost 127 millimetres (five inches).
It was very stylish with its quad headlights and dripping in chrome, almost as much as the automaker’s flagship Cadillac.
Impalas also had script and crossed flags in front of the side styling coves, ribbed rocker panels and faux air intakes ahead of the rear wheels. The name was repeated on the dash and the rear radio speaker. The sports wheel had a deep dish center and there were special “flipper” hubcaps. The center section on the roof of the Sport Coupe was raised and swooped towards a dummy air scoop at the rear. Impala offered the only convertible in the 1958 lineup.
Base engines were a 145 bhp, 235 cis six and a 185 bhp, 283 cid V-8, but options included the 230 bhp four-barrel Super Turbo-Fire V-8 ($27) and two dual four-barrel setups. One offered 245 bhp for $150 and the other 270 bhp for $183. The big-block 348 cid engine was available as a 250 bhp Turbo-Thrust V-8 ($59), and two Super Turbo-Thrust 348 V-8s. Both had three two-barrel carburetors but the first shared the 9.5:1 compression ratio of the other engines and generated 280 bhp ($70). The “M” maximum performance Special Turbo-Thrust 348 V-8 had an 11:1 compression ratio and solid lifters, and was good for 315 bhp. A Rochester mechanical fuel-injected small-block 283 V-8 engine generated 290 bhp but cost a hefty $484.
A number of different fuel-delivery options were available, including one four-barrel or three two-barrel carburetors or Ram-Jet fuel injection — the latter being the most expensive option, costing $488.
The convertible turned out to be the most expensive car in the Chevrolet model line for 1958.
The one-year-only 1958 Impala body style turned out to be a very bold move on GM’s behalf — it worked and lay the foundation for the risk-taking direction they were prepared to go in developing cars for the next decade. The 1958 Impala saved the day; GM was back on the map, competing head to head with Ford in sales for the first time since the early 1940s.
- Automatic Transmission
- Convertible Top, Black
- Dual Antennas
- Factory Clock
- Fuel Injection
- Power Seat
- Power Steering
- Power Top
- Power Windows
- Wheel Covers
- White Wall Tires
- Wonderbar Radio