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In the Garage: 1958 Chevrolet Impala
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1958 Chevrolet Impala sport coupe owned by Paul Dooling
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Chevrolet has produced an Impala for most of the last 54 years and this is the car that started it all. Designed as an ultra-luxurious version of the top-of-the-line Bel Air, the 1958 Impala attracted so much interest that it became a separate model the following year. The car’s exterior and interior were all new. It lost the fins of 1957 and gained more rounded, sculpted lines. It featured four headlights, six taillights, brightly colored upholstery with aluminum trim, plenty of fake louvers and scoops, and the crossed flag insignia borrowed from the Corvette sports car.
More than 181,000 coupes and convertibles were sold that first year, with prices starting at just under $2,600 for a six-cylinder version. As Dooling notes, 1958 was General Motors’ “year of ‘more chrome the better’ across all models” and the Impala was no exception. The numerous bright bits and pieces can be a major restoration expense when they need replating. Dooling’s choice of the sport coupe is no accident. He owned a similar Impala as his first new car after high school.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“It was advertised in Newsday by a seller in Oakdale,” he says. “The car started life in California and was sold to a guy in Denver, Colorado, who sold it to the guy in Oakdale. He found that he had more interest in Corvettes, so he sold it to me.”
“It was all there, but it needed a paint job,” Dooling says. “It was light blue and I painted it white, like my original one.” He rebuilt the brakes and rear suspension, patched holes in the trunk, installed new seat upholstery and fitted a “small block” V-8 engine with automatic transmission for better gas mileage.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Be sure you have the time to enjoy the car,” he advises.
Dooling estimates the value at approximately $25,000. The NADA Guides places an “average retail” value of $41,300 on a 1958 Impala sport coupe without options.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“It was a great car for me,” he says. “The first one lasted to 110,000 miles. I got married and sold it to a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas. I bought a new VW Beetle in 1964 for gas mileage, but I always missed my Impala. My wife was my girlfriend with the first car, so it was OK to buy this one.”