When so equipped, the big eight-cylinder put down 315 hp (319 PS) and 356 lb-ft (483 Nm), quite a lot for the era, especially for a full-size automobile. What more could America have asked for? A convertible – and Chevrolet promptly responded with the Impala. Correctly, the Bel Air Impala – as the African gazelle graced all droptops of the series, along with the two-door hardtop.
Around 180,000 units (55,989 ragtops) rolled off the assembly line – it may not sound like much, given how popular the Bel Air and later the Impala model were. But that particular year went down in history not just for the motoring achievements of Chevrolet but for something else, completely unrelated to but deeply affecting the motor industry: the Eisenhower recession, which hit Detroit like a jackhammer.
The first-year convertibles are the gems everyone hopes to get their hands on one day. When a 348-cubic-inch V8 is added, you can bet the seller has everyone’s undivided attention. Naturally, the unicorn survivors would easily steal any show, but restored examples won’t shy away from a high premium either. Take the following example as a yardstick – or, ideally, take it home and enjoy it with the top down.
In 1958, a long cruise would have almost unanimously been tackled with a road map in every car. Chevrolet took it one step further and planted a optional compass on the driver’s side of the dash of the Impala. A map is not very useful if you don’t know where you’re heading, right? The example featured in the gallery has the navigational aid installed, together with a tissue dispenser, power windows, seats, steering, brakes, and a continental kit with an extra spare tire.
The car was assembled for export to a metric region of Planet Piston. Hence, the readings are in kilometers, not miles, which means the gorgeous trim-clad Impala has 43,510 miles on it. We don’t have details about the car’s past other than it being an export example.
Still, we know something about its future: it’s searching for a new owner on the 9th of March at Glendale. With similar-condition examples fetching in six digits just because they lack a solid roof, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one claim a sale price north of $150,000.