1958 Chevrolet Impala
(Featured on 23rd June 2013)
Sellers original description:
Given the success of their '57 model, Chevrolet could have easily revised a few pieces and enjoyed another year of strong sales. Instead, they went back to the design studio and created another icon of the 1950s. The brand's '58 model not only introduced the Impala name but assured that it was the car capable of carrying buyers to the good life. Lower, longer and wider than its predecessor, the new model also offered an array of engine and interior options that made it a true crowd pleaser. By 1959, a new design was introduced, leaving these elegant single-year Impalas to begin their hike to collector car greatness. This sleek '58 Impala convertible captures the glamour of the era and wraps it around a stout Tri-Power 348 backed by a trusty Powerglide. Full of desirable options like power steering, Posi-traction, a continental kit and even the rare vacuum ashtray, all the right boxes are checked for a great long-term investment. Driven just one mile since the completion of its 2012 frame off restoration, this convertible is poised to collect trophies and carry you down the back roads with the grace of a Hollywood starlet.
The '58 redesign began by taking a step back from the crisp alert lines of the '57. While its new lines were actually more dramatic than those of its predecessor, the car had a much more refined presence befitting of a flagship model. Fisher Body was tasked with building the striking new bodies and this particular shell came to life in their Lansing, Michigan plant. From there, it was transported to Baltimore, where line workers mated it to one of GM's new X-frames. The GM sheet metal is remarkably straight and, given this car is nearly the size of a standard parking space, that's no small consideration. Panel fitment is significantly better than stock with measured gaps surrounding even the biggest pieces. A fresh coat of Rio Red paint coats those panels, offering a bright alternative to the more common black and white cars. The paintwork is beyond reproach with clean reflections visible from all angles.
As a single-year design, these Impalas can be particularly difficult to restore. Many of the small pieces are nearly obsolete and impossibly expensive when they are found. Taking a closer look at this convertible, the details are not only in place but mostly showroom quality. At the front, a bright new bumper offers a textured license plate recess centered beneath a distinctive grille. At the corners, dual parking lights mirror dual headlamps located directly above. Along the sides, unique upper and lower moldings combine with aluminum inserts and cross-flag emblems for a memorable profile. Down low, fender skirts neatly tuck the rear wheels and add a classic fifties touch. Around the cabin, fresh glass is outlined by clean stainless trim while a snug white convertible top keeps the elements out. At the back of the car, deeply sculpted rear fenders give way to a continental kit, surrounded by Impala-exclusive triple taillights. And no matter what angle the car is approached from, its identity is always clear.
Even today, power is important for a flagship car. Lift the hood on this sleek convertible and a date-code correct 348cid V8 comes into view. Dressed in a fresh coat of orange paint, the block wears a 3751872 casting number and July (G) 25th (25) 1958 (8) date code. At the top, three two-barrel carbs live under a gloss black two-snorkel air cleaner cover, topped off with proper GM decals. Atomized fuel travels down through a painted factory intake and out to the combustion chambers located within distinctively shaped stock heads. At the front of the engine, items such as the Delco generator and power steering pump spin off engine power while cooling comes courtesy of a factory-spec Harrison radiator aided by a belt-driven fan. Looking over the engine bay, the restoration stays true to factory form. Satin silver hinges contrast against a red firewall and gloss black inner fender wells for the perfect backdrop. In the corner, a large glass bottle feeds fluid to the automatic windshield washer. On the passenger side, a yellow-cap Delco battery provides amperage to help get things moving. Turn the key and engine comes to life with ease, settling into a quietly dignified rumble.
Underneath the car, the high-quality restoration extends to a freshly painted satin black X-frame and rock solid floors dressed in correct red oxide. From underneath, the deep floor pans make it easy to see what an advantage the X-frame provided in terms of interior space. A fresh OEM style dual exhaust system follows the unique lines of the frame before exiting at the rear corners of the body. All hardware is new and all lines are fresh, adding up to an ultra-clean presentation and some bonus show points. In the center, a two-speed Powerglide transmission handles shifting before transferring power to a GM corporate rear through a painted two-piece driveshaft. Around the drivetrain, the revised suspension rides on coil springs all around, aided by new shocks. As mentioned, the car has a factory power steering system which works well. Braking remains in stock form with manual drums all around. The chassis meets the road through 8.00-14 whitewall tires wrapped around steel wheels. Bright Chevrolet-badged centers complete the vintage look.
Slide into the driver seat and a beautifully appointed interior comes into view. Chevrolet had some of the best interiors of the late 50s and this '58 picks up just where its tri-five predecessors left off. Directly in front of the driver, a horizontal speedometer occupies most of the gauge cluster while temperature and fuel are monitored in smaller pod-like gauges below. Accessories like lights and wipers are controlled by chrome pulls that are every bit as stylish as they are functional. In the center, an original AM radio adds some functional vintage charm while an analog clock and '58-exclusive Posi-traction emblem fill the passenger end of the dashboard. Below the dash, a rare vacuum ashtray and chrome tissue box show some of GM's more thoughtful interior options. Seating is provided by bench seats wrapped in fresh red, silver and black tri-vinyl while, below, clean red carpet is capped off by tidy Fisher Body door sill plates. At the sides, elegant stock door panels round out the interior and house controls for the updated power windows. Behind the rear seat, a tidy trunk looks showroom new thanks to a correct rubber floor mat and roadside accessories.
It's hard to deny the presence of any '58 Impala convertible but the combination of a well-done restoration, Tri-Power 348, Powerglide automatic and thoughtful options makes this example stand out from the crowd. Regardless if you grew up during the fifties or simply feel drawn to the era, this iconic convertible is a time machine that you can feel comfortable investing in.