When you view a 1958 Chevrolet Impala, the first thing you recognize is how much the design changed compared to the 1955 to 1957 Chevy models. The 1958 models were longer, wider lower and heavier than the 1955-57 models.
The 1958 Chevys used an all new one year only body shell with General Motors Pontiac Division. The overall design of the 58's were rounded as opposed to the straight lines of the 1957 models. The year 1958 was a model year where automobile tail fins were in vogue. In the case of the 1958 Impala, the tail fins were actually quite understated compared to what was being offered by several competitors. The tail fins were designed to be sculpted into the rear fenders.
The Chevy Impala
The Impala name came from the antelope of southern Africa. The very first Impala that was introduced in 1958 was meant to be a full size car of "prestige" that was affordable for the average American car buyer. It was part of the top of the line Bel Air coupes and convertibles. The model of course was a great success since the nameplate has been around ever since and is one the most recognized automobile brands.
From 1958 until 1965, the Impala was Chevrolet's most expensive car model. In 1966 the Chevy Caprice took over that title. The popularity of this Chevrolet model is emphasized by the fact that the 2013 model year cars are among the ninth generation of Impalas.
1958 Chevy Bel Air Impala Specs
One major change in 1958 had to do with the cars suspension. In place of the rear leaf springs were full coil or air ride suspension.
Engine options included a 235.5 cid V-6 delivering 185 HP. Two V-8's were offered, one a 283 cid and a 348 cid. The 348 cid was a new option in 1958 and was inspired from a truck engine. These two V-8 engines delivered between 185 to 315 horsepower.
The 1958 wheelbase was 117.5 inches, a weight of between 3,458 and 3, 523 pounds, a length of 209.1 inches, an overall width of 77.7 inches and a price tag that ranged between $2,580 and $2,840.
The 1958 Bel Air Impala came with a new chassis. The chassis was no longer the perimeter type frame. The new frame had rails laid out in the form of an elongated "X." The new frame allowed for a lower passenger compartment and while lowering the compartment the elongated X frame did not diminish head room. Chevrolet also claimed that the new frame increased torsional rigidity.
The Car came with Impala script, insignia and crossed flag emblems on the front of the hood. Ribbed body sill panels, large chrome air scoops ahead of rear wheels on the fenders made the 1958 Impala quite sporty looking.
Impala's first year also introduced the dual headlamp on each side of the cars front and three taillights on each rear fender. The three taillight design was only seen on the Impala models.
Exterior color combinations were offered in fifteen different two color combinations.
The gear shift lever was mounted on the steering column.
Options included air conditioning, power seats, a Turbo Glide transmission, a four barrel carburetor, a triple two barrel carburetor, dual exhausts and power windows.
Impala production figures during the 1958 introductory year were 55,989 convertibles and 125,480 Sport Coupes.
The 1958 Bel Air Impalas came with a two spoke steering wheel and color-keyed door panels with brushed aluminum trim. The sunshades were of leather grain vinyl. As mentioned above, interior options included air conditioning, power seats and power windows. Interior trim color combination was gunmetal and silver.
(Photos from author's collection)