The wheelbase of the 1971 Chevrolet Impala grew by half an inch, as it did on Chevy's other full-size cars, and overall lengths reached 220 inches. Dimensions of that magnitude made Chevrolets the biggest of the "Big Three" makes. Station wagons stuck with their former 125-inch wheelbase but were stretched a bit to an immense 226 inches overall.
All-new front ends built around a vee-shaped grille gave the Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala, and prestigious Caprice a fresh and unique face, unrelated to other models. Said the Caprice sales brochure: "You'll like driving behind a stately grille that could be on cars priced hundreds of dollars more." Brookwood, Townsman, Kingswood, and Kingswood Estate wagons rounded out the full-size picture.
Full-size Chevrolet production (including station wagons) topped the million mark this season. Only 6,456 Impala convertibles were built, but the Impala series as a whole continued to sell strongly -- a true American favorite, and the most popular model nameplate in automotive history. In fact, the ten-millionth Impala was sold this year. Caprices were no slouches in the sales race, either, with 178,455 rolling out the factory door.
Engine choices reached as far as a 270-horsepower version of the 454-cubic-inch V-8. Also available: a 210-horsepower 402-cubic-inch V-8 and a 170-horsepower 400, along with 165- and 200-horsepower 350s. Fewer than 3,900 full-size Chevrolets had a six-cylinder engine.
Three luxurious Caprice models now were available, including a new pillared four-door sedan. Caprices had nothing less than a Turbo-Fire 400 V-8, with variable-ratio power steering and Turbo Hydra-Matic. Top-of-the-line wagon, as before, was the Kingswood Estate with simulated wood along the bodysides. Ventilation louvers disappeared from the tailgates of full-size station wagons.
Chevrolet's general manager, John Z. DeLorean, left GM this year to begin his ill-fated venture with the stainless-steel sports car that bore his own name.
1972 Chevrolet Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala, and Caprice Facts
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