In the sixties, unbridled consumerism began to wane. America turned away from the politics of prosperity and, in deference, Chevrolet toned down its finny Impala.
The ’59’s gothic cantilevered batwings went, replaced by a much blunter rear deck. WASP America was developing a social conscience and Fifties excess just wasn’t cool anymore. However, the ’60 Impala was no shrinking violet. Tired of gorging on gratuitous ornamentation, US drivers were offered a new theology—performance.
Freeways were one long concrete loop, premium gas was cheap, and safety and environmentalism were a nightmare still to come. For $333, the Sports Coupe could boast a 348cid, 335 bhp Special Super Turbo-Thrust V8. The ’59 Impala was riotous and the ’60 stylistically muddled, but within a year the unruliness would disappear altogether. These crossover Chevrolets are landmark cars—they ushered in a new decade that would change America and Americans forever.
The front of the Impala was meant to be quiet and calm and a million miles from the deranged dentistry of mid-Fifties grille treatments. The jet-fighter cockpit and quarterpanel missile ornaments were eerie portents of the coming decade of military intervention.
At $15 a set, wheel discs were a cheap accessory.
Chevy’s trump card was an option list normally found on luxury cars, like airconditioning, power steering and windows, and six-way power seat.
The Impala was America’s best-selling model in 1960.
The Impala debuted in ’58 as a limited edition but went on to become the most popular car in ’60s America.
The Sport Coupe is the prettiest Impala, with appealing proportions and a sleek dartlike symmetry.
Dumping all that lead were twin exhausts, a bargain $19 option.
CLASSY REAR END
Triple taillights and a vertically ribbed aluminum rear beauty panel helped to sober up the Impala’s rear end. It was still a class act and a lot glitzier than the Bel Air’s plainer tail.
The Impala’s coil spring suspension was superior to the leaf-spring rear system found on rival cars.
Chevy’s ad men sold the ’60 Impala on “Space-Spirit-Splendor.”
Inside, the Impala was loaded with performance metaphor: central speedo, four gauges, and a mock sports steering wheel with crossed flags. This car incorporates power windows and dual Polaroid sun visors.
The sporty steering wheel was inspired by the Corvette.
The triple taillights had disappeared in ’59 but returned for the ’60 model; they went on to become a classic Impala styling cue.
The ’60 Impala sported much tamer Spread Wing fins that copied a seagull in flight. They were an answer to charges that the ’59’s uproarious rear end was downright dangerous.
The Impala impressed on circuits all over the world. In 1961, some models were deemed hot enough to run with European track stars like the Jaguar Mark II, as driven by Graham Hill.
Impalas were big, riding on a 119-in (302-cm) wheelbase.
Body styles were four-door sports sedan, pillarless sport coupe, stock four-door sedan, and convertible.
Two V8 engine options offered consumers seven heady levels of power, from 170 to 335 horses. Cheapskates could still specify the ancient Blue Flame Six, which wheezed out a miserly 135 bhp. Seen here is the 185 bhp, 283cid V8. Impalas could be invigorated with optional Positraction, heavy-duty springs, and power brakes.
Impalas could be warmed up considerably with some very special engines.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Chevrolet Impala Sports Coupe (1960)
PRODUCTION Not available.
BODY STYLE Two-door coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body, separate chassis.
ENGINES 235cid straight six, 283cid, 348cid V8s.
POWER OUTPUT 135–335 bhp (348cid turbo V8).
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual, two-speed Powerglide automatic, Turboglide automatic.
SUSPENSION Front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs; Rear: coil springs with live axle.
BRAKES Four-wheel disc.
MAXIMUM SPEED 90–135 mph (145–217 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 9–18 sec
A.F.C. 12–16 mpg (4.2–5.7 km/l)