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The Impala nameplate first burst into the automotive world at the 1956 Motorama, General Motors’ self-produced car show. It was named after the impala, a majestic antelope that could leap distances of over 30 feet. It is one of the most successful Chevrolet models in history.

Over the years, the Chevrolet Impala has gone from a Bel Air trim level to becoming a pop culture icon, thanks to a few stand-out models.

1958 chevy impala bel air on display
The original 1958 Impala is a holy grail among American car collectibles, with the convertible version being in demand because there were only 56,000 ever produced.

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala – The First-Generation Impala

1958 was a bad year for most because of a recession. Most manufacturers cut down on production costs, but Chevrolet braved the storm and brought out the Impala as a special trim level for the 1958 Bel Air.

The Impala was available as a convertible or a hardtop sport coupe. It was so successful Chevrolet separated it from the Bel Air altogether. It had the same quad-headlights and A-pillars as the Bel Air but also featured a shorter greenhouse and a longer rear deck. It had deeply sculptured rear fenders, three tail lights, and an upgraded radio system inside the cabin.

Today, the original 1958 Impala is a holy grail among American car collectibles. The convertible version is especially in demand because there were only 56,000 ever produced. If you’re looking to score one of them, you’ll find a few popping up at auctions for over $100,000.

  • Engine Specs: 3.9L I6
  • Power: 147 horsepower @ 4,200 RPM
  • Torque: 215 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 14.4 seconds
  • Top Speed: 97 mph
parked 1964 chevy impala- under a tree
The 1964 Impala rolled off the assembly line with an x-frame chassis and long, flat paneling, making it ideal for adding hydraulic systems and other modifications required for lowriding.

1964 Chevrolet Impala – The Sleek Lowrider

During the 1960s, riding low was all the rage. It didn’t matter how fast your car went. If it was cruising low, you were the king among men, and Chevrolet understood that. The 1964 Impala rolled off the assembly line with an x-frame chassis and long, flat paneling, making it ideal for adding hydraulic systems and other modifications required for lowriding.

With six versions on the market, there was a 1964 Impala for everybody. Customers could choose a convertible, sedan, hardtop sport sedan, hardtop sport coupe, and two station wagons. A Super Sport (SS) edition for the convertible and hardtops was also available, and it came with interior and exterior upgrades like vinyl upholstery and wider upper-body molding. It also boasted a powerful 409 V8 engine that could produce 425 horsepower.

This third-generation Impala wasn’t just a lowrider favorite, it’s a pop culture icon too. The ‘64 Impala was featured in the music videos of several rap songs in the 1990s, including Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” and “Let Me Ride.”

  • Engine Specs: 6.7L V8
  • Power: 425 brake horsepower @ 6,000 RPM
  • Torque: 425 lb-ft @ 4,200 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 6.3 seconds
  • Top Speed: 140 mph
image of a 1965 chevy impala
The fourth-generation Impala broke records with over a million sold, the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US since World War 2.

1965 Chevrolet Impala – The Record-Breaking Bestseller

Chevrolet’s roaring success didn’t stop with the 1964 Impala. When the 1965 Impala rolled off the assembly line, people flocked to showrooms across the country. Customers had a bunch of different engine options to choose from, including small-block and big-block V8s.

On the outside, it featured a rounder look with four headlights and blinkers positioned in the bumper. The coupe version had a faux-cabriolet design with frameless side windows and six round tail lights. Inside, a center console separated two bucket front seats with a wide bench in the back that could comfortably seat three people.

This fourth-generation Impala broke records with over a million sold, the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US since World War 2.

  • Engine Specs: 6.7L V8
  • Power: 400 horsepower @ 5,800 RPM
  • Torque: 425 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 6.5 seconds
  • Quarter-Mile Time: 15 seconds
  • Top Speed: 139 mph
1971 chevy impala in a car show
The fifth-generation Impala was 18 feet long and nearly seven feet wide, making it Chevrolet’s largest car to date.

1971 Chevrolet Impala – Bigger and Better

The 1970s saw the rise of the small-car trend, making the release of the 1971 Chevrolet Impala so unexpected. This fifth-generation Impala was bigger than previous models, with a longer wheelbase measuring 121.5 inches. The car was 18 feet long and nearly seven feet wide, making it Chevrolet’s largest car to date.

Like older models, the 1971 Impala was offered in several versions with several impressive turbo engines to choose from. The most powerful engine option was a big block Turbo-Jet 454 V8 that could produce a whopping 365 horsepower, but this power output wasn’t exactly the reason behind the 1971’s popularity.

The 71’ Impala became quite popular in the 1990s by being used as Donks, which are a unique group of custom cars with bold paint jobs, flashy interiors, and huge shiny rims. Hydraulic suspensions and chrome plating were also popular modifications. These custom upgrades didn’t come cheap, but it was a popular form of expression in the hip-hop community.

  • Engine Specs: 7.4L V8
  • Power: 365 horsepower @ 4,800 RPM
  • Torque: 465 lb-ft @ 3,200 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 8.3 seconds
  • Quarter-Mile Time: 16.1 seconds
  • Top Speed: 132 mph
1996 chevy impala ss on the side of the road
To this day, the 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS continues to be one of Chevrolet’s most iconic performance cars ever. Image source: harry_nl | Flickr

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS – The Return of the Super Sport

Gone for over 20 years, the SS finally made its long-awaited return in 1994. However, it was the 1996 Impala SS that was truly iconic. To this day, it continues to be one of Chevrolet’s most iconic performance cars ever.

At first glance, the 1996 Impala SS looked just like any other regular midsize car. However, a closer look under the hood revealed that it’s so much more than that. Its long exterior gave it that classic ‘90s luxury sedan look, and it came with a powerful 5.7-liter V8 engine.

All SS Impalas had the 9C1 Police Package, which included a better exhaust, a stiffer suspension, quicker steering, and a lot of other upgrades. The ‘96 Impala had all that and more. Some models with the Preferred Equipment Package also came with upgraded power seats, automatic headlamps, and an auto-dimming mirror.

  • Engine Specs: 5.7L V8
  • Power: 260 horsepower @ 5,000 RPM
  • Torque: 330 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 7.1 seconds
  • Quarter-Mile Time: 15.2 seconds
  • Top Speed: 142 mph

Honorable Mention

2014 chevy impala on display
Along with a spacious interior and a bold new style, the 2014 Impala was chock full of features such as active noise cancellation, lane departure warning, and collision warning.

2014 Chevrolet Impala – The Last-Generation Impala

Along with a spacious interior and a bold new style, the 2014 Impala was chock full of features. It had active noise cancellation, lane departure warning, and collision warning. For the first time ever, Chevrolet also installed a full-speed-range adaptive cruise control and a crash-imminent braking system.

It came with three engine options, including a hybrid combo that featured an eAssist system. The most popular choice was the 3.6-liter V6 engine that could produce around 305 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque, which were considered impressive figures for non-turbo sixes.

The 2014 Impala started strong with high sales during its first few years, but its success slowly dwindled as more and more customers set their eyes on SUVs instead of sedans. While they aren’t the priciest Impalas on the market, they still sell for higher than a few older models.

  • Engine Specs: 3.6L V6
  • Power: 305 horsepower @ 6,800 RPM
  • Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5,300 RPM
  • 0 to 60 time: 6.1 seconds
  • Quarter-Mile Time: 14.6 seconds
  • Top Speed: 156 mph
  • Fuel Economy: 19 city, 29 highway

Chevrolet might have stopped production of the Impala in February 2020, but the iconic car is far from forgotten. Throughout the years, the Impala didn’t shy away from change, earning its name as one of Chevrolet’s most successful models in history. It’s clear that the Impala’s legacy lives on through fans and gearheads all over the world to this day.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

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Stacy Earp

1963 the man.the best built and best style.

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