Cars We Love: 1965 Chevrolet Impala

1965 Chevy Impala

If you put all of the Impalas that Chevrolet sold in 1965 end-to-end, you would have one heckuva traffic jam. Chevy sold over one million Impalas (1,046,514 to be precise) and if you add in all of their other models, they sold a total of 1,764,760 full-sized cars in 1965, a record that still stands. Impalas accounted for just over 11% of all new car sales in 1965. For comparison, the Toyota Camry was the top U.S. seller in 2008 and accounted for only about 3% of the total car sales. In today’s fragmented market, Chevrolet’s sales record probably will never be topped.

The name Impala has been in General Motors’ big book of car names since it was first used in 1956 on a four-passenger Motorama show car, the Corvette Impala. The name returned as an upscale Chevrolet model in 1958, where it lasted until 1985. After a brief return between 1994 and 1996, it is now once again a part of Chevrolet’s model lineup.

In typical ‘60s fashion, Impalas could be ordered in basic trim with the standard six-cylinder engine, or could be turned into a luxury machine with a fire-breathing V8 by ticking off many of Chevy’s options. Base prices ran from $2,779 for the Impala four-door sedan up to $3,212 for the Impala Super Sport convertible.

1965 Chevy Impala

If anyone ever told you how much simpler life was back in the ‘60s, they never went through the process of buying an Impala. In addition to a lengthy list of comfort and convenience options to choose from, there were no less than seven engine choices to make. One could get a bigger six-cylinder engine, a 283 cubic inch V8 with either 195 or 220 horsepower, a 327 cu. in. engine with either 250 or 300 horsepower, or a 396 cu. in. engine with either 325 or 425 hp.

What was the Impala’s sales secret? It was a pleasantly styled car, big enough for a family, as reliable as American cars got, and had a good resale value. It had basic engineering so that if it ever broke down, regardless of where you were, any nearby mechanic could fix it and have you back on the road in a jiffy. It was a car that could be equipped any way that anyone could want—a car for “everyman.” And for Chevrolet in 1965, ‘everyman’ was everywhere.




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Photos by Jack Snell and Greg Gjerdingen

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