Car: Chevrolet Impala Hardtop
What makes it special: Beginning in 1959, the second-generation Chevrolet Impala was redesigned. Sharing bodyshells with lower-end Buicks and Oldsmobiles as well as with Pontiac, part of a GM economy move, the Chevrolet’s wheelbase was 1-1/2 inches longer. Using a new X-frame chassis, the roof line was three inches lower, bodies were two inches wider, and curb weight increased. Its tailfins protruded outward, rather than upward. Impala became a separate series, adding a four-door hardtop and four-door sedan, to the two-door Sport Coupe and convertible.
What made it famous: The 1960 Impala models reinstated three round taillights on each side, and a white band running along the rear fenders. The available V8’s were reduced to seven, in 283 cu in or 348 cu in displacements. The carbureted Turbo-Fire 283 cu in V8 could have either 170 or 230 hp. The 348 cu in was available in 250 to 320 hp with a 350 hp Special Super Turbo-Thrust with triple 2-barrel carburetors, 11.25:1 compression ratio, and dual exhausts. Fuel injection was no longer an option on full-size Chevrolets. New to the options list was speed and cruise control. A contoured hooded instrument panel held deep-set gauges.
Why I would want one: I am in love with the low-riding, second-generation Impala model. It has that “Space Race” styling, love the outward-protruding tailfins, giving it the feel of a rocket ship.
Fun fact: The Impala name was first used for the full-sized 1956 General Motors Motorama show car that bore Corvette-like design cues, especially the grille.