Car: Chevrolet Impala Hardtop
What makes it special: The 1958 Chevrolet models were longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors. The 1958 model year was the first with dual headlamps. The tailfins of the 1957 were replaced by deeply sculptured rear fenders. Impalas had three taillights each side, while lesser models had two and wagons just one. The Impalas included crossed-flag insignias above the side moldings, as well as bright rocker moldings and dummy rear-fender scoops.
What made it famous: The standard perimeter-type frame was abandoned, replaced by a unit with rails laid out in the form of an elongated “X.” Chevrolet claimed that the new frame offered increased torsional rigidity, and allowed for a lower placement of the passenger compartment. This was a transitional step between traditional construction and the later fully unitized body/chassis, the body structure was strengthened in the rocker panels and firewall. A coil spring suspension replaced the previous year’s rear leaf springs, and an air ride system was optional. A 283 cu in engine was the standard V8, with ratings that ranged from 185 to 290 horsepower. A “W” block, not to be confused with the big-block 348 cu in Turbo-Thrust V8 was optional, producing 250 hp, 280 hp, or 315 hp. The Ramjet fuel injection was available as an option for the Turbo-Fire 283 V8, not popular in 1958.
Why I would want one: This one-year only body style was a refreshing and updated change from the Tri-Five Chevrolets. Love the bodylines as well as the low stance created by the X-frame.
Fun fact: A 1958 Chevrolet Impala was driven by actor Ron Howard in the 1973 George Lucas’ movie “American Graffiti.”