The End of the Chevy Impala

The last Chevrolet Impala rolled off the assembly line February 27, 2020. It was a Premier model dressed in Cajun Red. News of the end of the line for the Impala was first announced in 2018. And the last gen-Impala is far from what comes to mind when one thinks of a “full-size Chevy”. The end of the Chevy Impala symbolizes the official end of the traditional full-size sedan in America. A typical body on frame, low revving V8, four doors and column automatic Dad-mobile. A dent collecting tank that could hold decades of memories in-between its sofa bench seats.  The Dodge Charger doesn’t count because of its unibody construction and the fact that Charger did not start out as a sedan when introduced in the 1966.  The end of the Chevy Impala made me feel nostalgic for an era that is now officially over.

I, like so many millennials, can remember a time when a restaurant hostess would greet you with the phrase “smoking or non-smoking.” We remember having cell phones with numerical buttons and provider plans that charged PER text message. The cars we grew up with. Velour interiors seats on top of butter cream suspension allowing us to float over road imperfections like Jell-O in a bowl. Hub caps seemed to be everywhere, either for sale or just laying on the ground. Single cab pickup trucks and wood paneled mini vans filled with kids doing the Macarena. Street gutters littered with half-eaten cassette tapes that were thrown out in a fit of frustration. Purple tint draped across the windows of every other Monte Carlo. Anyone remember when people used to hang CD’s from the rearview mirror? I digress.

There used to be a time when full-size Chevys were the stable of parking lots. Impalas, Caprice, Caprice Classic, they were everywhere. Cops drove them, low riders bounced them, and stunt drivers hooned them. If you grew up in the last century then you grew up seeing a Caprice Classic being destroyed in action movies – usually dressed as police cars.

Modern mid-size sedans are better than these now classic body-on-frame dinosaurs. Faster, stronger, more bells and whistles, seats that hold you in place, and pack more power using half the cylinders. Most of these cars are designed to look aggressive, try to include a sense of sporty performance, and provide an increasing array of driving-aids to protect its passengers like an overbearing mother.

Things change, and that’s ok. But nostalgia is one of the greatest drugs our minds can produce. The death of the Chevrolet Impala made me reminisce about the plain-Jane sedans of the last century. Cars with horizontal dashboards, steel bumpers, and one finger power steering pumps matched with a 5 drink minimum suspension sway. The full-size cars of yesteryear that I grew up spotting on the streets, on TV, and in my own driveway.

Farewell Chevrolet Impala. The full-size Chevy that multiple generations grew up with has reached the end of its era. Thankfully, these cars will continue to live on. Impalas will survive the test of time with 28 inch wheels, hydraulics, and LS beating hearts.

A Fitting Tribute

Below is a video, created by YouTube account Meeting Bark, paying tribute to these great Chevys that co-starred in so many movies over the decades. Set to the tune of Burning Bridges by Mike Curbside Congregation – composed by the great Lalo Schifrin. If that songs sounds familiar that’s because it was the theme song used for the Clint Eastwood war-movie Kelly’s Heroes (1970).