General Motors has plans to discontinue the Chevy Impala, a car that has been around since the 1950s. The company announced restructuring plans involving plant closures, resulting in it doing away with an automobile icon.
Called one of the country’s most iconic nameplates, the Impala began as a comfortable and large automobile. Early on, the car earned a reputation for offering car buyers value. As Chevrolet continued producing the car, the company did what auto manufacturers do, which is make changes and modifications to interest new buyers and equip the vehicle model with advanced technology. In some circles, the Impala is considered to have started the muscle car movement in the U.S.
The Impala has been around for 10 generations, but the most current model bears little resemblance to its predecessors. Today, the vehicle is a popular rental car, and it’s a long way away from the ones being sold 50 or so years ago. One of the analysts for the Hagerty Price Guide, John Wiley, shared his opinion on why the vehicle model has fallen out of favor among car enthusiasts. He said, “In 2000, the Chevrolet Impala switched to a front-wheel-drive platform, and while some were available with a V8, the model did not stay as close to its roots as cars like the Pontiac G8.”
He believes that the decision by General Motors to discontinue the Impala is unlikely to affect the collectability of the current models or older ones.
The Impala with the Most Value
According to the Hagerty Price Guide, the Impala that’s worth the most right now is the 1963 Z11 Lightweight Sport Coupe that comes with a 427 V-8 engine that produces 430 horsepower. One in good condition would be worth around $200,000 while a 1963 Impala in the best possible shape is valued at around $445,000.
A fun fact is that Chevy named the Impala after an especially quick antelope. As recently as 2013, the vehicle model was catching the attention of car buyers. In fact, many in the industry pointed to the vehicle as a statement of Detroit’s revival following the tough days of the Great Recession. In 2014, Consumer Reports lauded the redesign, describing it as a “phoenix-like rise.” The magazine awarded it the top-rated sedan for that year. However, just last year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article stating that the Chevy Impala was “a solid vehicle that deserves an update.”
The problem is that people want their SUVs and trucks, so automakers have been halting production of their passenger cars to revamp these larger vehicles, leaving models like the Impala out in the cold.
A Promising Start
Chevrolet released the first Impala in 1958. The vehicle was the Chevy Bel Air’s top trim level, one that featured:
• Vigorous styling
• Plenty of space
The model’s success was so great that Chevy decided to split it off from the Bel Air and make it its own model. When the company did that, the vehicle soon became the best-selling full-size car in the U.S.
Throughout the years, the Impala impacted auto styling in general with its notable rear ends and famous grilles. Car buyers gravitated toward the car model. It was popular because the vehicle has long been a complete package. Not only did it always have the space for families, but Chevy equipped it with a V8, turning it into a muscle car. It was also available as a convertible.
The Entertainment Industry
Over the years, Impalas have been remarkable enough for Hollywood to take notice. The vehicle model appeared in “Saturday Night Fever” and “Raising Arizona.” The Impalas of the 1970s had a tough look that made them perfect for gritty cop dramas while the 1989 Batmobile was based on the platform of a 1967 Chevy Impala that the movie’s prop designers found in London. More recently, a 1967 Impala is the vehicle driven by brothers Sam and Dean Winchester in the CW television show “Supernatural.”
The car maker lost its footing with the Impala in the 2000s before it completed the major model redesign in 2014. Some vehicle reviewers even considered the car bland and uninspiring. The boring design is reflected in the number of Impalas that people are holding on to. Collectors just aren’t keeping the more recent models.
General Motors is also discontinuing the Volt, the Cadillac XTS and the Cruz, so the Impala isn’t the only casualty of the big vehicle trend.
The End of an Icon
With General Motors stopping production of the Impala, it really is the end of icon. But, if we’ve learned anything from the auto industry, it’s that discontinued models don’t always stay that way. This year, Chevy is relaunching the Blazer, so you never know. Ten years from now, we could see the Impala return to dealership showrooms.