1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala

The 1958 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air dashboard was a riot of 1950's style and color.
The 1958 Chevrolet Impala Bel Air dashboard was a riot of 1950's style and color.

The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala was the new top-of-the-line Bel Air model, lavishly equipped and soft-riding, and offered only as a Sport Coupe or convertible.

From the windshield pillar rearward, the 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala differed structurally from garden-variety Chevrolets. Hardtops had a slightly shorter greenhouse and longer rear deck, giving the impression of an extended body, plus bright rocker moldings and dummy rear-fender scoops.

Simulated extractor vents on the uniquely contoured roof were inspired by Mercedes-Benz. Three taillights sat on each side, whereas lesser models had two, and wagons just one. Special crossed-flag insignias sat above the side moldings.

With a six-cylinder engine, a Chevrolet Bel Air Impala started at $2,586, while $2,693 bought a V-8. Naturally, options pushed typical total prices far higher. In all, 55,989 ragtops and 125,480 Sport Coupes were built, 15 percent of production. Stunning interiors held a competition-inspired two-spoke steering wheel and color-keyed door panels with brushed aluminum trim. No other series included a convertible.

Introduced in a blaze of publicity, Impala signaled Chevrolet's entry into the mid-price field, even if the design was less radical than planned. In addition to style and vigorous performance, ads pushed its "quick, eager-to-please handling that lets you know you're the boss." As an exclusive model, the Impala name would soon become almost synonymous with Chevy.

Longer, lower, and wider--a recurrent theme--all Chevrolets had full-coil suspension, displacing the old rear leaf springs. A new "Safety Girder" X-type frame reduced height without headroom loss. A 283-cubic-inch engine was now the standard V-8, with ratings that ranged from 185 to 290 horsepower.

Drivers who yearned to be "boss" had a new option, though: a big-block 348-cubic-inch Turbo-Thrust V-8, descended from a truck engine and tossing out 250, 280, or 315 horsepower.

The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala helped Chevrolet regained the number one production spot by a wide margin in this recession year that saw nearly all makes lose sales.

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Bel Air Impala
3,458-3,523
$2,586-$2,841
60,000 (approx.)