1958 Chevrolet Impala: A One-Year Wonder

The 1958 Chevrolet Impala was a notable car for several reasons.   For one thing, this was the first time that Chevrolet used the model name “Impala”.  This also was the first Chevrolet to use the “quad” headlight design.

A 1958 Chevrolet Impala

The 1958 Chevrolet was an unusual one-year only design.  In the past and for many years after Chevrolet would use the same body style for two or three years with only trim changes on a particular body style.  However, the 1958 Chevrolet neither resembles the 1957 nor the 1959 Chevrolets.

The Design of the Back of the 1958 Impala Hints of the Large Wings That Will Fully Emerge in 1959

The Impala model can be distinguished from the remainder of the Bel Air models by the chrome trim mounted in front of the rear wheels and the “Impala” insignia mounted higher up on the rear fender.  The Impala model was available as a 2-door “hardtop” coupe or as a 2-door convertible.  No particular engine package came with the Impala option and they could even be fitted with the base inline 6-cylinder engine.

I have included an advertisement for the Impala from 1958.  It is curious that this image includes a small glimpse of the rear fender from a 1958 Corvette in the lower right corner.

This 1958 Advertisement Refers to “Turbo-Thrust V8 Engines” Which Really Meant More Cubic Inches As None of the Engines Were Turbocharged

In 1958 Chevrolet first used the 348-cubic inch V8 engine as an option.  Previously, (from 1955 to 1957) the available V8 engines in Chevrolet cars was the 265 or 283 cubic inch “small block” V8 engine.

The 348 cubic inch V8 Can Be Identified By the “Scooped Out” Valve Covers

This particular 1958 Chevrolet Impala had the 250 horsepower V8 engine.  In 1958 Chevrolet had a wide option list of available engines:

  • Standard 235 cubic inch inline 6-cylinder: 145 hp
  • 283 cubic inch 2-barrel V8: 185 hp
  • 283 cubic inch 4-barrel V8: 230 hp
  • 283 cubic inch fuel injected V8: 250 hp
  • 348 cubic inch 4 barrel V8: 250 hp
  • 348 cubic inch three two-barrel  V8: 280 hp
  • 348 cubic inch high compression 4 barrel V8: 300 hp
  • 348 cubic inch three two-barrel V8: 315 hp

The 348 cubic inch V8 engine originally was only available in the General Motors truck products.  I think that for this reason, the 348 cubic inch engine is the “Rodney Dangerfield” engine of the Chevrolet V8 engines.  It never really got the respect that it deserved, as it was often referred to as a “truck” engine with some distain.

The Transmission Shifter Has Been Re-Located To The Floor

This particular Chevrolet was fitted with the 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, but somewhere over its life, the transmission shifter has been moved to the floor from the column.  If you look closely, you can see the Powerglide transmission display still on the column.  Other available transmissions for the 1958 Chevrolet Impala were the standard 3-speed manual transmission and the continuously variable Turboglide transmission.

This Impala Has A Very Colorful Interior

Note the presence of seat belts in this car.  I think that seat belts were available as an option or perhaps these are an aftermarket addition.

Interest in the 1958 Chevrolet pales in comparison to the 1955 to 1957 Chevrolets, but it is still a fine car.

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11 Responses to 1958 Chevrolet Impala: A One-Year Wonder

  1. volkswind says:

    Your blog is always very impressive and informative. I love it!

  2. sro65 says:

    I just discovered your blog and I really enjoy the time I spend here. Really, really interesting comments and nice pictures ! Thanks for this superb work.

  3. Enjoying reading your blog. This is one beautiful Chevy!

  4. Looks really good on the outside. It’s too bad it wasn’t kept original on the inside. It really spoils the overall package.

  5. Poor Manz Maher says:

    Great post, but I concur, too bad it wazn’t kept original inside. The wheel & re-config of the shifter iz a drag (pardon the pun). Otherwize a fantastic piece of what made America great, unlike now when every car built iz yet another silver soap bubble floating off the assembly line. If you look at US car companies and start at 1958, it seemz their mission waz to start with a fantastic futuristic unique machine & then about 7 yearz in they had taken an ice cube attitude, that iz to start melting & watering down the design of it till it was an inferior shell of it glorious former self. So sad, where iz the fork? Stick it in… America iz done.

  6. Pete and Sandy Massicotte says:

    That’s our(my Wife Sandy and me) car, we have had it for 37 years and it is all original as nothing has been done to it that can’t be undone in about an hour! It is set up the way we like it and is meant to be driven not just looked at! I like to call it personalized.

    Pete and Sandy Massicotte, proud owner’s

    • Pete & Sandy,
      Your car is great and I was very impressed by it. I like that you drive the car and not just trailer it around. Wow! Same car for 37 years!

      Good to hear from you,
      Steve McKelvie

  7. Curt Radestock says:

    My first car, enjoyed it for many years! Curt

  8. Rod says:

    I owned a 58″ BelAir with the early version of the 348. The early version used longer spark plugs than the later version and was also the best version of the two. By the time I completed work on it, I had added the tri-power, a 3 speed on the floor with the linkage reversed so 1st was in the upper left of the pattern, dual exhaust with dumps located just behind the front tires and painted it metallic forest green. It was a hot car and I never lost a race to any 327. Loved that car.

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