The 1974 Chevrolet Impala got some bad news: overall Chevrolet production skidded 15 percent this year, due in large measure to the energy crisis that resulted from the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-74. Practically overnight, it seemed, Americans said "no" to big cars like the Impala, Caprice and Bel Air, and turned to thriftier, smaller vehicles. Jacking up prices by 10 percent surely didn't help, either.
Dramatic new Custom Coupe rooflines continued the "Colonnade" styling that debuted on the previous year's Chevelles, with long fixed quarter windows -- larger in size this season -- instead of roll-down glass. True pillarless hardtop coupes remained, including the Impala Sport Coupe that continued the roofline introduced in 1973 -- rather reminiscent of the original '66 Caprice's roof treatment. A restyled grille had distinctive, bright-accented vertical bars. Caprice Classics could have a 50/50 reclining passenger seat.
Sales brochures promoted the Caprice Classic's "enviable luxury," aimed at "people who think driving is something the car should do." Oddly, the Caprice Classic four-door sedan was outsold by coupe and hardtop sedan counterparts, both of which cost more. Not many convertibles remained in the American market, but Chevrolet continued to offer the open Caprice Classic. Full-size cars rode a new radial-tuned suspension and steel-belted radial tires.
A limited-edition "Spirit of America" series debuted in the Impala, Nova, and Vega lines, bearing a patriotic theme. Each car was painted white with red and blue accent striping and special identification. Impalas also got distinctive wheels.
Full-size wagons again had the Glide-Away tailgate. With the optional 454-cubic-inch V-8 and its 235 horsepower, a full-size station wagon could tow as much as 7,000 pounds. Station wagons had a standard 400-cubic-inch V-8, rated at 180 horsepower, whereas other full-size models started with a choice of 350-cubic-inch V-8s. Caprices got a 150-horsepower rendition of the 400-cubic-inch powerplant.
1974 Chevrolet Bel Air, Impala, and Caprice Facts
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