Car: Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe
What makes it special: The second-generation 1959 Chevrolet Impala was redesigned and shared bodyshells with lower-end Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs as part of a GM economy move. Using a new X-frame chassis, the roof line was three inches lower, bodies were two inches wider, and curb weight increased. Impala’s tailfins now protruded outward, rather than upward. The taillights were a large “teardrop” design at each side, and two slim-wide nonfunctional front air intake scoops were added just above the grille.
What made it famous: Impala became a separate series, adding a four-door Hardtop and four-door Sedan to the two-door Sport Coupe and Convertible. Sport Coupes featured a shortened roof line and wrap-over back window. The standard engine was an Inline-6, while the carryover 185hp, 283 cu in engine as the base V8. Optional were a 283 cu in with 290 hp and 348 cu in V8 up to 335 hp. Standard were front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows. A contoured hooded instrument panel held deep-set gauges. A six-way power seat was a new option, as was “Speedminder”, for the driver to set a needle at a specific speed and a buzzer would sound if the pre-set was exceeded.
Why I would want one: The second-generation Impalas were so very “Space Race” with their styling, created to give the image of space flight, right down to their futuristic, rocket-ship tailfins.
Fun fact: The Impala continued as Chevrolet’s most popular full-size model through the mid-1980s.