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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33 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

    • Chris says:

      Do you still have the rest of the factory AC components? Nice option to have along with the Power steering and power brakes. What is the box mounted next to the washer jar on the fender skirt it looks like I can barely make out the Autronic Eye on the dashboard but the pictures make it hard to tell I am guessing that is what it is for. ?

      • pete says:

        Yes! That is the autronic eye. Did you also notice the power windows and seats as well as steering and brakes. Oh yea it also has a wonder bar radio. However it is missing the “vacum ash tray”.

  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.

  9. dick pease says:

    I owned a blue 58 Impala in 1964 348/250hp later put in a 365hp/327 crate engine with a four speed 4:56 gears was a screamer. I am now 69 years old and just bought a red 58 Impala for $42,500 had a 40k three year restoration the only change from stock was from factory reo red to corvette torch red 250hp/348 my car gets the most looks at car shows and waves and high fives, thumbs up doing down the road. 58’s are starting to get more attention in the resto world and body parts are hard to find.

  10. In my personal opinion, the 1958 Chevy was by far one of the more “Glamorous” Chevy’s of that era. Walt

  11. I ran into a 1958 Impala at a car show. This car had a 409 in it with chrome and numbers on the outside stating it. The owner said that 11 of these were made in 1958 and he had one of them. Is this a true statement that they were experimenting in 1958 and built 11 of these cars?


    • Hi Joe,
      I really don’t know for sure what the answer to your question is. The fact that you saw one carries some weight. What seems odd to me is that the 409 was not officially introduced into the Chevy line up until 1961. If GM put a 409 in a 1958 car, then it sure took them a long time to come to a conclusion about the 409. This long time gap is what makes me a little suspicious about the authenticity of the 1958 Impala with the factory installed 409.
      Hopefully someone with definitive information will be able to answer your question. Thanks for your interest and thanks for sharing that 1958 Impalas with the 409 engine might exist.
      Steve McKelvie

      • David Brooks says:

        The 409 was in fact a 348 “W” head block,later to become the 396 and 427.Same block but later with different”crank” making it a different stroke.

    • Chris says:

      Totally false. the 409 did not debut until 1961 and there were only 142 built in 1961.

      • I agree with you Chris. I think that the car that Joe saw had the 409 installed later.
        Steve McKelvie

      • Rich says:

        A stock 409? Wow. But doubtful. A 283 or a 6 cyl I would believe before a 409, although I have never seen either one in that car. I bought a 58 Impala in 1961 when I was going to high school. Blue over blue, 348, 4 bbl, Powerglide, and every non-functional stock accessory possible down to the fake knock offs. The only thing I added was a necker knob. Have had many cars since, but it is still my favorite. Been scouting around to buy one. Seems the ’58 Impala was underrated for many years, from the auction prices I am seeing it is finally getting the respect it deserves as an American classic.

  12. Leuter says:

    I’m 64 Y old and I loved Impalas all my life, since the first to the seventies.
    Thank you for this. Wonderful text, simple and exact.
    Glamorous and edificant site. Congratulations.

  13. Ron Boatright says:

    I owned a 58 Impala with the 348 250 hp from 1960 until 1962. Loved the car. It was white with the aqua interior, but it had the terrible turbo glide transmission. I destroyed two of them trying to drag race. I then had a three speed manual floor shift installed out of a Corvette, which was poorly done. This is why I traded for a 61 Corvair of all things. Wish I still had it though.

  14. Russ says:

    I own a ’58 Bel-Air Sport Coupe with a 3 on the tree. I wondered if adding overdrive would be to my advantage AND if they are even available. It’s a driver, not a trailer queen.

    • Hi Russ,
      My initial response is that adding overdrive, by itself, would not be of advantage. Overdrive will reduce the motor rpms at a given speed and it would, in theory, reduce gas consumption. Depending upon your engine power/torque curve the performance in third-overdrive could be very anemic. The overall drive ratios in both a three-speed and a four-speed will be the same, as the upper gears are 1.00. I think that you could improve the performance of the car with a three-speed plus an overdrive if you also lowered the rear end gearing (installing higher ratio numbers). This would give you better low speed acceleration and then use the overdrive to reduce the engine rpms at highway cruising speeds.
      I have no information on the availability of overdrives for your car.
      Perhaps other readers will provide you with additional input regarding the use of overdrive.
      Steve McKelvie

    • Darrell Palmer says:

      I had a 52 Chevy which I hot rodded in 67 with a 283 and a 58 overdrive trans out of a 58 delray.

  15. Tom McDermott says:

    Most beautiful Chevy ever built. Own one with orange details…wish I still owned it😑😑😑😑😚

  16. Alex Fardales says:

    Was the undercarriage of the 58 Impala red lead primer as was the 1957s? Or was it black? Also,on the 4bl 283/230 hp engine, did Chevrolet use the vacume hose vacume Advance first in 58, or was it still the metal line connection as was on the 57s? Thanks. Alex.

  17. Alex Fardales says:

    One more question on the 58 Impala. Can you have the accessory wheel spinners and still have fender skirts? I had spinners and skirts on my 57, no problem. 58s? Thanks. Alex.

  18. Pauly says:

    What is the rarity and available possibility of finding a1958body and chasey

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