Monday, April 4, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Chevrolet Impala Custom

I don't know of very many cars that embody the early 1970s in America better than this light metallic green 1971 Chevy Impala Custom. Depending on whose numbers you look at, GM sold some 668,000 full-sized, mostly V8-powered Chevy boats in '71 - and that's including a two-month production halt due to a United Auto Workers strike. It was an amazing time, before anyone cared much about emissions or fuel economy or what was going on in the Middle East. Airbags and the OPEC oil embargo were two years away. Life was good, sales were strong, and you could still buy one of these babies with about as much power as a brand new 2011 Camaro SS. And if you crashed this car you probably never realized it. It either happened so far away it didn't effect you, or you weren't alive to find out. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but this is a truly huge car.

This Impala Custom hardtop coupe with vinyl top and full wheel covers was about the nicest mid-range big Chevy you could buy without upgrading to a Caprice. With a 400 cubic inch V8 underhood, the driver had up to 300 horsepower on tap. Nowadays, though, nobody buys these kinds of cars. The 'large personal luxury coupe' market today is pretty much limited to the Dodge Challenger. It's rare to find a clean, original Chevy full-size coupe of this era because they're so high in demand among the "Donk" crowd. Thankfully this example, while a little scuffed up and with grille and front bumper damage common to the breed, has been spared from molestation. It's apparently a daily driver (I saw it cruising by a couple of weeks ago while walking from class), sounds great and moves around enough that I can find only one picture of it on Flickr.

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