The roots of the 1958 Impala extend to the mid-1950s, when Chevrolet's chief engineer, Ed Cole, developed the company's first modern V-8 engine, an impressive 265 small-block. Before 1955, Ford had dominated the market—the best Chevy could offer prospective customers was a low-powered six-cylinder engine. But in 1955, Chevrolet introduced its high-performance V-8, which it installed in completely restyled models, available in a wide array of colors, with beautiful lines and lots of attention to detail.
Quickly, Chevy became synonymous with quality, and the first model to get the V-8, the Bel Air, became a hot item. Taking cues from Cadillac, the exterior of the Bel Air, available in hard-top and convertible, was updated again in 1956 and '57, and this evolution led to the even more deluxe Chevrolet Impala, which was positioned as a prestige high-end full-size car when it was launched in 1958. The Impala represented Chevy’s effort to appeal to the luxury market with its bigger, heavier body, a 348-cid V-8 engine, and a new-fangled innovation called fuel injection.
For its 1959 model year, Chevy offered both a pillared and pillarless Impala sedan to create a new top-of-the-line series. Today, the two-door hardtops and the convertibles are the most sought-after models by car collectors. One of the most distinguishing features of '50s Impalas are their dramatic bat-wing tail fins, which were tamed and trimmed down for the 1960 model year, and done away with by 1961. Throughout the rest of the early 1960s, Chevy had huge success moving upmarket, and by 1965, the Impala was the best-selling car of the year.
Thanks to the popularity of sports cars, though, in 1962 Chevrolet added the zippy Impala SS (Super Sport) to the line, a model offered until 1967. The high-powered full-size Impalas, redesigned again in 1971, remained Chevy’s top sellers well into the 1970s, but went out of production in 1985. The Impala SS imprint was revived in 1994, and remains in production today.